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Graduate donates more than £6m to Glasgow University

John Shaw, who graduated from the university, and his wife Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, pledged the money.

Donation: Glasgow University.
Donation: Glasgow University. Pixabay by Michael Beckwith / Cropped

A graduate has pledged more than £6m to Glasgow University in what has been described as the institute's largest-ever donation.

John Shaw, who graduated from the university, and his wife Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw have donated £5m US dollars (just under £4m) to the new research hub being constructed on the site of the old Western Infirmary.

Space in the second level, dedicated to public engagement, will be named Shaw Plaza.

A total of 2.5m US dollars (just under £2m) has also been donated to create a new professorial chair in precision oncology, to be named the Mazumdar-Shaw Chair.

Mr Shaw said: "As a proud alumnus of the University of Glasgow, I have the good fortune of making a gift at a time when the university is embarking on a major expansion.

"Both Kiran and I have the proud privilege of being awarded honorary doctorates.

"The success of our company, Biocon, has allowed us to be philanthropic. Research at Glasgow resonates very closely with Biocon's principal interests in diabetes and cancer.

"Our gift therefore seeks to support research and precision oncology.

"The University of Glasgow has the potential to advance science to new levels and become a globally-recognised research hub."

'As a proud alumnus of the University of Glasgow, I have the good fortune of making a gift at a time when the university is embarking on a major expansion.'
John Shaw

Mr Shaw completed an MA in history/modern history in 1970 when he was also chairman of the Adam Smith Society, and received a commission from the Officer Training Corps.

The couple met in Bangalore while Mr Shaw was working with Paisley-based textile firm Coats and they married in 1998.

He took early retirement to help grow his wife's firm, Biocon, into a biotech giant and one of India's largest pharmaceutical companies - leading to their donation.

Mr Shaw added: "Building a business from scratch into a large enterprise takes courage, determination and endurance. Most importantly, it is a journey of risk management.

"Our message to young entrepreneurs and businessmen and women would be to pursue opportunities with a sense of purpose and a spirit of challenge.

"There are no guarantees or shortcuts to success."

University principal and vice-chancellor Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli said: "We are deeply grateful to John and Kiran for this act of extraordinary generosity.

"The research hub, currently under construction, will create a unique environment which will break down organisational silos to allow the collaboration across disciplines on which world-changing research breakthroughs now depend.

"It will allow us to impact on many of the most pressing issues of our time, including new treatments for chronic and infectious diseases and reducing poverty in the global south.

"John and Kiran have long been supporters of the university, also helping develop the university's strong scientific relationship with Biocon which includes joint PhDs.

"I am delighted that we are able to do such important work together."

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