Koskinas Chair in Neuroscience
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Koskinas family of Worcester establishes second endowed chair at UMass Medical School

Honors life and legacy of Arthur F. Koskinas by supporting scientific research

Longtime Worcester resident and philanthropist Helen P. Koskinas and her family broadened their generous support of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in late 2015 by establishing an endowed chair to support cutting-edge neuroscience research. The chair—the second established by the Koskinases—was named the Arthur F. Koskinas Chair in Neuroscience to celebrate the life and legacy of Mrs. Koskinas’ late husband Arthur. Joel D. Richter, PhD, professor of molecular medicine, was invested as the inaugural recipient in fall 2016.

“Throughout all our years in Worcester, Arthur and I saw the innovative work that was taking place at UMass Medical School and felt grateful for what it was doing for the region and the world,” said Mrs. Koskinas. “We wanted to support that work and felt blessed to be able to establish the Arthur F. and Helen P. Koskinas Professorship in Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology in 2002, which is held by C. Robert Matthews, PhD. That feeling has continued for me and for our family, and we were honored to expand our support with this gift in memory of Arthur.”

“This remarkable generosity, which serves as a compelling and inspiring example for others to follow, forever links, in a public and profound way, the Koskinas name to the commonwealth’s public medical school,” said Chancellor Michael F. Collins during the 2016 Investiture ceremony. “We are most proud of this association.”

Throughout their lives, the Koskinases amassed a notable record of civic engagement, community volunteerism, charitable work and philanthropic giving.

Born to Greek immigrants in Worcester, Mr. Koskinas was educated in its school system and went on to graduate from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and attend Harvard Business School. He served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II and was an attorney for more than 50 years and a partner at Koskinas & Langella in Worcester. Mr. Koskinas was a member of several local cultural organizations including Worcester Music Inc. and the Worcester Art Museum. In 1999, he joined the board of the UMass Memorial Foundation (UMMF), which raises philanthropic support for UMMS and its clinical partner UMass Memorial Health Care. Mr. Koskinas passed away in 2003.

“Their philanthropy is very forward-thinking and it exemplifies the importance of private and increasingly essential support for science.”

Mrs. Koskinas, a native of Ohio, is a graduate of Vassar College and remained in New York where she was the director of a pre-school primary program for blind children. Since coming to Worcester, she has served on numerous social agency boards. As a volunteer board member of McDonald's Children's Charities, she helped to bring to UMass the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, which serves underprivileged children in the Worcester schools. She joined the UMMF board in 2003 and is a member of the Hudson Hoagland Society. In addition to her and her husband’s support of the Emergency Care Campaign at UMass Memorial, Mrs. Koskinas has also supported the UMass Medicine Cancer Walk and various clinical and pediatric programs.

“The full extent of their generous spirit and spirited generosity is perhaps most poignantly felt here at our academic health sciences center,” said Chancellor Collins. “Their unparalleled generosity and unrivaled commitment have contributed mightily to our own success story.”

Dr. Richter has made ground-breaking discoveries into Fragile X syndrome, the most common form of inherited intellectual and developmental disability. His research focuses on the molecular biology of neuronal synaptic plasticity and learning and memory; the RNA regulation of neurologic disease, including Fragile X syndrome; translational control and RNA processing, as well as RNA-protein interactions. Richter has recently made foundational contributions to the understanding of the molecular pathology of Fragile X syndrome, identifying it as a fundamental disorder of the role of protein synthesis in neurons.

“Helen Koskinas and her daughters, Jocelyn and Ellen, have my utmost appreciation for establishing this endowed chair,” said Richter at the 2016 Investiture ceremony. “Their philanthropy is very forward-thinking and it exemplifies the importance of private and increasingly essential support for science.”

Photo

At the 2016 Investiture ceremony, Joel Richter, PhD (second from left), appears with Jocelyn Koskinas (far left), Helen Koskinas (center), Ellen Koskinas Hauck and Charles Hauck.