When scientist George Yancopoulos speaks about his experience with the Science Talent Search, he uses words like “life-changing.” Named a finalist in the competition decades ago, he credits it with helping him launch a career in medical research. Now, Yancopoulos, chief scientific officer at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Tarrytown, N.Y., and his fellow STS alum Leonard Schleifer, Regeneron CEO and president, want to give back to the competition.
On May 26, Regeneron and Society for Science & the Public, which created the STS program in 1942 and publishes Science News, announced that the biotechnology company will take over as the third lead sponsor of the Science Talent Search. The competition was sponsored by Westinghouse for more than five decades; in 1998, Intel became the lead sponsor.
“We are honored to be the new sponsors of the Science Talent Search, a national treasure that highlights the critical role science plays in advancing society,” Yancopoulos said in a press release. “For me, participating in the Science Talent Search was a life-changing experience that inspired my future scientific career.”
The sponsorship will include $100 million in support over 10 years, increasing the value of the scholarships and other awards offered to winners of the competition to $3.1 million annually. Regeneron will also dedicate $30 million of the total to growing the Society’s efforts in outreach and equity, designed to encourage more young people to engage in original research as part of their explorations of science.
Regeneron, founded in 1988, developed the cholesterol-fighting drug Praulent that went on sale last year and Eylea, a treatment for the vision disease wet macular degeneration, among other products. It also has a $1.7 billion deal to develop new immunotherapies for cancer with Sanofi, the French pharmaceutical firm.
To Maya Ajmera, CEO and president of Society for Science & the Public and publisher of Science News, the expansion of the competition and related outreach efforts is particularly exciting. “Through the dedication of Regeneron not only to continue but to advance the Science Talent Search, we will be expanding the program’s reach like never before,” she said.