Skip to main content

Philanthropy News

Photo for Kellen press release


December 8, 2021—Rockefeller University president Richard P. Lifton announced today that the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation at the recommendation of Michael Kellen, president of the Foundation, and his wife, Denise, has made a $10 million gift to endow the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund at The Rockefeller University. In addition, the Denise and Michael Kellen Foundation has agreed to supplement this gift with annual spendable funds until sufficient endowment income is generated to support the grants awarded through this program.

The Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund was created by the university to encourage more women to translate their basic science discoveries into novel medications and diagnostics. Built on Rockefeller’s pioneering Women & Science initiative, the WEF—as it is known on campus—ensures that the university’s women scientists have the tools, infrastructure, and funding to explore the clinical applications of their research. The heart of the fund is a grants program that supports translational research projects from women scientists and collaborative ventures where a woman is one of the team leaders.

“By generously choosing to endow the WEF, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation is fulfilling a key facet of the university’s strategic plan and supporting game-changing translational research,” said President Lifton. “The Kellens’ gifts are especially meaningful this year, as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Women & Science Initiative and reflect on what we have accomplished so far and what more we aim to achieve.”

Since its launch in the fall of 2020, the Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund has awarded seven grants to women investigators and triggered an increase in translational grant applications from Rockefeller women. A new round of funding was recently announced.

Michael Kellen has been a Rockefeller trustee since 2017 and serves on the Technology Transfer Committee. Denise Kellen is a co-chair of the Women & Science Committee and a member of the Rockefeller University Council. “The more women who have an opportunity to take their scientific discoveries toward clinical application, the more groundbreaking therapeutics and medicines we will have to treat those in need. This new fund really resonated with the goals of both our family foundations,” said Mr. Kellen.

In addition to the grants program, the WEF provides project mentoring and entrepreneurship training to educate scientists about the translational pipeline. Scientists increasingly play a critical role in the successful navigation of scientific discoveries from the bench to the bedside.

In December 2020, the Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund launched a speaker series that features leaders in the biotech and pharma industries, as well as experts in technology transfer and the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The popular series is open to the entire campus community and has become an important resource for the university’s scientists.

“These magnificent gifts will help to equip a new generation of women scientists with the knowledge and skills needed to develop their innovative science into breakthrough therapies and diagnostics,” said Elaine Fuchs, Rockefeller’s Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor and head of the Robin Chemers Neustein Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development.

“The Kellen Family were among a core group of benefactors who launched the WEF two years ago. With this remarkable new support, the Kellens ensure that innovative translational research will be conducted by women scientists at Rockefeller in perpetuity,” said Marnie Imhoff, Senior Vice President for Development at Rockefeller. “We hope that these gifts will inspire others to support the mission and goals of this ambitious program.”