WATERVILLE — Colby College has received a $5 million donation to support student biomedical research, marking the school’s third major financial commitment to the sciences in the past three years. Trustee and alumnus David Pulver and his wife, Carol, committed the money, which will be used to create the Pulver Science Scholars Program, according to a news release from the college Friday afternoon. The program aims to “help ensure future discovery, leading to treatments and cures in critical areas of human health.”

It is unclear how many students will be able to use the money each year and when applications for the program will open. Colby currently enrolls about 2,000 undergraduate students. It consistently has been ranked as one of the nation’s top liberal arts institutions.

The college noted that the biomedical science-focused program was designed in part to combat heightened competition for federal grants.

“Federal funding dipped to just 44 percent of the research dollars awarded in 2015, down from more than 70 percent in the 1960s and ’70s,” the release notes. “By training the most talented science students, the program will have a positive impact on potential life-saving discoveries and cures that could otherwise be delayed.”

Colby President David Greene stated that the decline in federal funding has constrained research opportunities for the college’s undergraduates, including by reducing the number of research assistants institutions are able to hire.

“The Pulvers’ vision allows us to create a private solution to this serious challenge while encouraging and educating the next generation of scientific leaders,” he wrote.


As part of the new program, selected students will work closely with members of the Colby science faculty and at local laboratories, including Jackson Laboratory, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory. The funds also will bring industry leaders to campus to collaborate with students.

Pulver noted that his personal battle against bladder cancer 10 years ago motivated him to support students who are interested in researching treatments and cures for a range of human diseases and conditions.

“Carol and I are thrilled to contribute to Colby in this way,” he said. “We know Colby will recruit remarkable students for this program and are fully confident in the College’s ability to create opportunities that will prepare them to become leaders in the scientific world.”

In 2018, Colby rolled out the Linde Packman Lab for Biosciences Innovation, which supports research, internship and travel opportunities in the summer or January term for students pursuing careers in biotechnology, biomedicine, biochemistry, ocean sciences, genomics and bioinformatics. In 2017, it introduced the Buck Lab for the Environment and Climate Change to finance similar opportunities in fields related to climate disruption.

“These initiatives, including the Pulver Science Scholars Program, support ongoing efforts by Colby to connect students’ academic pursuits to meaningful opportunities that are available to all regardless of their financial means,” Friday’s news release stated.

The college’s communications department could not be reached immediately for comment.

Meg Robbins — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @megrobbins

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