The Vagelos Effect

May 2, 2023

Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons launched an exhibit to celebrate P. Roy Vagelos ’54 and Diana Vagelos.

Entitled “The Vagelos Effect,” the exhibit highlights Roy and Diana’s legacy and their contributions to the future of science and medicine. The exhibit was designed for the Columbia community and can be viewed in the Vagelos Education Center. 

Tracing key steps in Roy and Diana’s development into the leaders we know and celebrate today, the exhibit covers a range of topics. It begins with Roy’s earliest days working in his family’s luncheonette, where many customers were scientists from nearby Merck, the top pharmaceutical company he would eventually go on to lead. The exhibit highlights when Roy and Diana first met, when he was a medical student at Columbia and she was an undergraduate at Barnard, and touches upon their many contributions to science, medicine, global health, and education at both institutions. The exhibit also provides detail about Roy’s career, especially his leadership at Merck and major initiatives he launched: the Mectizan Donation Program to eliminate river blindness, partnership to provide Merck’s hepatitis B vaccine to China, and the development of statins, which have transformed modern cardiovascular care.

To learn even more about Roy and Diana and their shared legacy at Columbia, please visit our website.