$5.25 Million Gift From Klara and Larry Silverstein Makes Difference in Medical Students’ Lives at NYU School of Medicine

Gift Helps to Alleviate Burden of Medical Education Costs and Attract the Best and Brightest Medical Students

Long-time New York University (NYU) supporter and prominent real estate developer Larry Silverstein and his wife Klara have donated $5.25 million to create the endowed Silverstein Scholarship Fund at NYU School of Medicine. This gift will provide, on an annual basis, full tuition and room and board costs for up to five Silverstein Scholars selected based on demonstrated academic merit. Today the Silversteins met the inaugural scholars for the first time in Mr. Silverstein’s office at Silverstein Properties on Greenwich Street in New York City.

“We thank Larry and Klara Silverstein for their continued leadership and commitment to NYU and the Medical Center,” said Robert I. Grossman, MD, dean and CEO at NYU Langone. “Their generous gift will profoundly impact the lives of our students.”

Scholarships, such as the Silverstein Scholarship, help attract the best and brightest medical students and help alleviate the stress caused by the accrual of medical school tuition loans over the typical educational term.

The Silversteins have generously given more than $10 million to NYU Langone, including gifts to children’s services and the NYU Child Study Center.

“It is with great pleasure that we created this fund to be used for merit scholarships,” said Mr. and Mrs. Silverstein. “It is our hope that this gift will allow talented and hard-working NYU School of Medicine students to realize their dreams of careers in medicine as well as foster advances in healthcare.”

Ivan de Kouchkovsky, 21, born in Nanterre, France, and raised in San Francisco, CA, is a first year medical student and one of this year’s scholarship recipients. According to de Kouchkovsky “I was very humbled and excited to receive the Silverstein Scholarship. I had attended NYU School of Medicine during a summer program in 2010, and already knew this school to be an extremely friendly and supportive environment. With this scholarship, I truly felt that the school valued my potential as a future doctor and was committed to supporting me in this endeavor. Being a Silverstein Scholar will also allow me to pursue a career in academic medicine, and possibly a masters in bioethics, without the pressure of student debt.”

In addition to Ivan de Kouchkovsky, this year’s scholarship recipients are first-year medical students Cherub Kim from Southern California, Gretl Lam from Arcadia, CA, Yijie Xu, born in Shanghai, China, where she lived until she moved to New Jersey at the age of nine, and Ken Zhou from Toronto, Canada.

Mr. Silverstein is president and CEO of Silverstein Properties, Inc., a Manhattan-based real estate development and investment firm that manages 35 million square feet of office, residential, and retail space. Many of the firm’s properties are renowned, and he is the driving force behind the redevelopment of the World Trade Center. Larry Silverstein graduated from NYU in 1952 and became a trustee of the university in 1976. In the late 1990s he became a trustee of NYU Langone Medical Center and the School of Medicine. Two of their children also graduated from NYU.

Mrs. Silverstein earned a BA in social work, with a minor in education, and an MA in special education, from Hunter College. She has combined her interests in children and education with board leadership and advisory roles. For the past 10 years, she has been chair of the board of trustees at the Hunter College Foundation. She is also an advisory board member of the NYU Child Study Center and board member of both the Food Allergy Initiative and The Museum of Arts and Design.

The Silversteins have been married for more than 56 years and are particularly dedicated to education and medical research as well as humanitarian causes and the arts. Mrs. Silverstein credits her mother, and Mr. Silverstein credits his father, for instilling philanthropic values in their lives.

Biographies on inaugural Silverstein Scholars

At 10 years-old, Ivan de Kouchkovsky moved from France with his family to the U.S. After graduating from a small French high school in San Francisco, CA, in 2007, he decided to remain in the U.S. to pursue at bachelor’s degree in Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. After he completed a research program at the University of California, San Francisco, Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center in the summer of his freshman year, he began considering a career in medicine. He joined the Suitcase Clinic, a student-run free clinic in Berkeley, as well as a neurobiology lab on campus, where he used photoisomerizable—light switch—molecules to restore light-sensitivity to blind mouse retinas. Ivan first came to NYU School Medicine in 2010 as a part of the selective Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) where he used sodium imaging to study neurodegeneration in adult multiple sclerosis. After graduating from UC Berkeley with a Certificate of Distinction in 2011, de Kouchkovsky taught MCAT courses in San Francisco and volunteered at a clinic in Costa Rica. Ivan has always been fascinated by the neurosciences and hopes to begin research in this area soon. He is also very interested in the moral foundations of medicine and looks forward to exploring the field of bioethics in the coming years.

Cherub Kim grew up in Southern California and his interests in technology and science drew him to engineering. He studied Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He continued on to graduate school at Berkeley, obtaining a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. After a personal experience that abruptly put him in the middle of the medical system, Cherub found medicine to be an amazing opportunity to touch lives. Because of this experience, he decided to become a physician. Cherub quest is to pursue a profession dedicated to serving others on a deeply personal level. Although he has not yet chosen a specialty, he hopes to unite his engineering training with medicine to advance medical technologies in order to improve health and quality of life for others.

Gretl Lam grew up in Arcadia, CA, a suburb of Los Angeles. At a young age, she became interested in studying medicine after watching her father put together traditional Chinese herbal tea remedies using bits of bark, roots, and dried grass. Gretl completed her undergraduate studies in Biochemistry, with a minor in Art, at Colgate University in Upstate New York. During this time, she conducted four years of biochemistry research on protein structures. She also studied healthcare and art history in Sweden and India in order to learn about healthcare systems and cultures that are quite different from those of the U.S. Gretl speaks Cantonese and Mandarin and is learning Spanish. She hopes to have the opportunity to practice and improve all of these language skills while caring for patients in the next few years. Learning languages is particularly important to Gretl as she hopes to practice medicine in underserved communities and developing countries. Her goal is to contribute to the global healthcare system in the field of surgery or emergency medicine. When she graduates from NYU School Medicine she will be the first member of her family to become a physician.

Yijie (Angela) Xu was born in Shanghai, China, where she lived until she moved to New Jersey at the age of nine. During high school, Angela volunteered as an EMT with her hometown’s ambulance corps. There, she discovered her interest in healthcare and in serving the local community. She further explored her interests in medicine as an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University studying Biomedical Engineering and Spanish. During her time at John Hopkins, Angela also researched a novel vaccine to treat women with cervical cancer. Here at NYU School of Medicine, she hopes to continue her research on the role of the immune system in cancer treatment. In addition, Angela wishes to utilize her understanding of Mandarin and Spanish in serving those who may be reluctant to obtain healthcare due to language barriers.

Kenneth Zhou spent the first 17 years of his life in Toronto, Canada, before moving to the San Francisco Bay area to study molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley. During his undergraduate studies, Kenneth had to pay international tuition rates and was ineligible for federal loans – causing much financial stress and difficulty. When Kenneth realized his dream of attending medical school in the U.S., this challenge became even more daunting. After gaining admission into several of his top choice medical schools, he and his mother prepared for the unenviable task of trying to make the numbers work. Kenneth was preparing to fly back to Canada to request funding from banks there when he received a life-changing phone call from Rafael Rivera, MD, at NYU School of Medicine, informing him that he was selected to be Silverstein Scholar. He was not aware that such an award existed, let alone that he, an international student who not even a year ago was still unsure of his career aspirations, could be bestowed with such an incredible gift. This scholarship has transformed the outlook for him and his family and has opened up avenues toward his future goals in medicine. At an early age, Kenneth discovered his passion for teaching, beginning as a French tutor during middle school. At Berkeley, he had the transformative experience of teaching two semesters of an upper-division human anatomy lab course. It was at this time when Kenneth realized this is where he wanted to be in life, teaching others about the body and how to care for it as a doctor of medicine. His ultimate goal in medicine is to provide the best possible care to the greatest number of people. He believes he can achieve this by using his teaching abilities to help educate skilled, knowledgeable, and compassionate future doctors.