In 1976, Don Harless, director of the Westinghouse Science Talent Search handed a first prize to Bronx High School of Science prodigy, George Yancopoulos. Fast forward three decades. George has become the co-founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, now the sponsor and namesake of the Science Talent Search. Harless, in his eighties by now, shows up at the latest Regeneron Talent Search Award ceremony to shake the hand of George Yancopoulos. Why? Because the year before, Harless was nearly blind, and a Regeneron drug called Eyelea® reversed his macular degeneration.
This year, George Yancopoulos was honored with Columbia University’s Hamilton Award, the most prestigious prize given to an alumnus. As George, in our short film, says: “Columbia changed my life… It’s the spirit of asking questions, it’s the challenging of the status quo, it’s the wondering about the science. If you ask questions to Professors — and they may not have even thought about the question before — and they say: that’s a great question — that is the basis of promoting new thought and creativity.”
What might the winners of the Regeneron Talent Search Award do for George down the road? Let’s see.