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$2m gift aids HST

An MIT alumnus and his wife have endowed a $2 million fund to advance research, study and training in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST).

The John F. and Virginia B. Taplin Awards Fund, announced by HST co-director Martha Gray at the Division's annual forum in March, will recognize and support the work of HST faculty and students in biomedical engineering, physics and chemistry. By helping to build HST programs, the Taplins hope to contribute to an understanding of the causes, prevention, treatment and cure of disease. The family previously established the Edward Hood Taplin Professorship in Health Sciences and Technology in 1981.

Each year, four $50,000 Taplin Awards will be given to HST Taplin Faculty Fellows. The faculty awardees will be known as the John F. and Virginia B. Taplin Faculty Fellows in Health Sciences and Technology. Doctoral candidates training in their laboratories and receiving support directly or indirectly from the award will be called John F. and Virginia B. Taplin Student Fellows in Health Sciences and Technology. An annual HST-Taplin Symposium will be held to report on the work that has been accomplished with the support of the awards.

"This is a tremendous resource for the Division," Dr. Gray said. "Through these awards, we will be able to provide targeted discretionary funding directly to the HST community. We can make an important investment in the people who are building our programs in biomedical engineering and physics, medical imaging, medical informatics, and experimental pharmacology and therapeutics."

Mr. Taplin graduated from MIT in 1935 with a concentration in electrical engineering, communication theory and mathematics and later joined the Fenwal Co. to develop containers for transporting and handling blood. The original Fenwal plastic blood bag became the world standard and is still used by millions. A prolific inventor and entrepreneur, he has created products as diverse as rolling diaphragm seals used in automotives and automatic reading machines for check sorting.

Since his retirement, Mr. Taplin has assisted local hospitals and academic institutions in transferring scientific discovery to industry to improve public health. He and his wife, Virginia, a Wellesley College graduate, are also active philanthropists in Newton.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 30, 1997.

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