SCIENCE TALENT SEARCH
"For many scientists, there's a critical experience, often involving a teacher or mentor who changes your life. I'm a product of an interest in science and the fact that I was presented with role models who were able to take that interest to the next level where I could imagine turning it into a career."
- George D. Yancopoulos, MD, PhD
President, Regeneron Laboratories,
and Chief Scientific Officer
OUR LEGACY WITH STS
We are proud to have several STS alumni among our employee base, including Len Schleifer, MD, PhD, our Founder, President and CEO, and George Yancopoulos, MD, PhD, our Founding Scientist, President of Regeneron Laboratories and Chief Scientific Officer.
Regeneron is led by two physician-scientists, who, remarkably, are both alumni of the STS competition.
Leonard S. Schleifer, MD, PhD, Founder, President, CEO and 1970 STS alumnus, founded the company in 1988 while serving as an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Weill Cornell Medical College.
He quickly approached George D. Yancopoulos, MD, PhD, a 28-year-old Professor of Biology at Columbia University, to join him in the new endeavor. The son of Greek immigrants, George had been driven to succeed in science his whole life and was, in fact, a top STS winner in 1976 while attending the Bronx High School of Science. Like Len, he grew up in Queens, New York, but the two had never met. In 1989, George joined the company as Founding Scientist and President of Regeneron Laboratories. He later became a member of the National Academy of Sciences, which is virtually unheard of for an industry scientist, and was the 11th most highly cited scientist in the world in the 1990s.
Leveraging a lifelong passion for science and an entrepreneurial spirit, Len and George were able to secure $1 million in venture funding from Merrill Lynch. Recognizing the critical value of scientific mentorship and expertise, they began recruiting top scientists to serve as company advisors, including multiple Nobel Prize winners to join the Board of Directors.
In 1995, Len and George approached one such scientific luminary, P. Roy Vagelos, MD, who was retiring as Merck CEO and Chairman, to join Regeneron as Chairman of the Board. One of the most respected leaders in science and business, Roy had built Merck into a scientific and drug development powerhouse, and just as importantly, set a new standard in corporate citizenship. During Roy's tenure, Merck was named the most trusted company in America.
The company benefits from one of the longest-standing and distinguished Board of Directors, including two Nobel Laureates and five members of the National Academy of Sciences. Demonstrating the company's commitment to scientific excellence, Regeneron was one of the first companies to form a Science and Technology Committee as an integral component of its Board, a practice which has since become industry standard.
"This is the Super Bowl of Science."
– Former President George H.W. Bush
Regarded as the most prestigious science research competition in the nation, STS serves as the national stage for the country's best and brightest young scientists to present original research to nationally recognized professional scientists.
Seven decades since its initial launch, the Science Talent Search has recognized over 8,500 young scientists with more than $25 million in awards. Alumni include holders of more than 100 of the world's most coveted science and math honors, including five National Medal of Science winners, three Breakthrough Prize awardees, twelve MacArthur Foundation Fellows, two Fields Medalists and eight Nobel Laureates.
LEONARD S. SCHLEIFER, MD, PhD
Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer, Regeneron
Chairman of the Board from 1990-1994
Len grew up in Queens, New York, in a middle-class family, with parents and teachers who inspired his passion for science and entrepreneurship. Len's high school math teacher encouraged him to submit a project to the Westinghouse Science Talent Search in 1970, helping to launch him on the path to his current position.
He earned his MD and PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Virginia and became a licensed physician certified in neurology. While working as a practicing neurologist and professor at Cornell Medical School, Len became frustrated with the lack of effective treatments for his patients with serious neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. He wondered if new "biotechnology" could be harnessed to potentially make an impact for these patients, and many others.
Len founded Regeneron in 1988, with the vision of creating a company built entirely on science, where scientists are the heroes and everyone works toward the common goal of helping patients. He knew he needed a top-notch team and immediately recruited three Nobel Laureates to the Board, as well as George Yancopoulos, MD, PhD, a top scientist from Columbia University, to serve as the company's Founding Scientist. Thirty years later, Len's dream is a reality, and the Regeneron team is using their scientific prowess to consistently and repeatedly bring new medicines to people in need.
Len has always aimed to "pay it forward" by creating a legacy of scientific mentorship and empowerment. Regeneron has a long-standing and deep commitment to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and fostering the future of biomedicine. Through immersive programs, Regeneron strives to support the next generation of groundbreaking minds that will continue to change the world through scientific discovery.
Len is so proud that the world's preeminent science competition for high school students will now be known as the Regeneron Science Talent Search.
GEORGE D. YANCOPOULOS, MD, PhD
Founding Scientist and Chief Scientific Officer, Regeneron
President, Regeneron Laboratories
George joined Regeneron as the company's Founding Scientist and now serves as the Chief Scientific Officer and President of Regeneron Laboratories. His interest in science started with the stars — specifically with the Russian American space race that was headlining the news during his childhood.
The son of Greek immigrants in New York City, George attended the Bronx High School of Science, where he wanted to be like the heroes at school and compete in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search. With the help of his teacher-mentor, Mrs. Strom, George would arrive to school at 5:30 each morning to work on his project, a top winner in the 1976 Science Talent Search. This was a life-changing experience that confirmed he would commit to a career in the sciences.
After graduating as valedictorian at Bronx High and at Columbia University, George received MD and PhD degrees from Columbia University's College of Physicians & Surgeons. At Columbia, he served as legendary geneticist Dr. Fred Alt's first postdoctoral student, working in molecular immunology. In 1989, Len Schleifer, MD, PhD, recruited George to Regeneron. Before taking the job, George's dad insisted on interviewing Len to ensure that his brilliant son was making the right decision in joining the then-fledgling biotech company. At the time, many of his academic peers counseled him against going to "the business side" of science — fearing his promising start in academia would be all for naught. George says he never forgets those well-intentioned words, and they are part of what's motivated him to work so hard to keep that from happening.
As it turned out, George has received more than 100 patents, including several relating to Regeneron's four FDA-approved drugs and its foundational technologies, including VelociGene® and VelocImmune®. In 2004, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, which is virtually unheard of for an industry scientist, and was the 11th most highly cited scientist in the world in the 1990s.
George wants to bring his success in the sciences full circle and is deeply committed to inspiring excitement about scientific careers through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education programs. George plays an active role in Regeneron's STEM commitments and lends his name to the George D. Yancopoulos Young Scientist Award given at the Westchester Science & Engineering Fair for student researchers whose passion for science may lead to the development of novel technologies or biological insights. He hopes that the Regeneron Science Talent Search will positively influence young scientists, just as it did for him when it was called the Westinghouse.