Studying these cells could lead to new treatments for diseases ranging from gastrointestinal disease to diabetes.
Professor Mario J. Molina, who shared the Nobel Prize in chemistry last year for his work on the Earth's protective ozone layer, has donated $200,000 of his prize money to MIT to endow fellowships for scientists from developing countries doing environmental research.
The fellowship program is for graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and visiting scientists, particularly those from Latin America.
The surprise announcement of the gift was made by Professor Thomas H. Jordan, head of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, at a reception Thursday, Feb. 8, for Dr. Molina in Lobby 13 attended by a large number of faculty, administrators and students.
The MIT Community of Color, with the assistance of the office of the dean for graduate education, organized the reception to acknowledge and celebrate Dr. Molina's accomplishments.
Dr. Molina, Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Sciences, received the Nobel Prize with two other chemists for pioneering work showing that man-made chemicals were depleting the earth's ozone shield. He and his co-recipients-Dr. F. Sherwood Rowland of the University of California at Irvine and Dr. Paul Crutzen of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany-split the prize of approximately $1 million, each receiving about $330,000. Dr. Molina holds joint appointments in the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences and the Department of Chemistry,
Professor Molina contributed the fellowship money with his wife, Dr. Luisa Molina, a research scientist in EAPS. The Molinas said they regard the donation as seed money that they hope will stimulate the growth of a much larger endowment that will support at least one visiting scientist on a continuing basis.
"It's clear to me that one of the important needs for global environment issues is the participation of scientists from all over the world," Professor Molina said in explaining his gift. "We have some very big challenges ahead if we are to preserve the environment, and it's obvious that there are too few scientists from developing countries involved in the effort. This is one modest way to stimulate young people from developing countries to get involved in environmental issues."
He said he had tried to do something of this kind in the past, but did not have enough money in his own research account and was unable, at that time, to get a sufficient number of pledges from industry and foundations. He hopes they will now be more amenable to the idea.
Professor Molina said he has spoken directly with the president of Mexico, his native country, who pledged government support for young scientists working there on environmental issues and also promised to enlist the support of Mexican industrialists.