A graduate and his wife have made the largest ever donation to the University of Glasgow in recognition of how his time there gave him the confidence to help transform his wife’s small pioneering firm into one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in India.
Glasgow-born John Shaw and his wife Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw have given more than £6m to the university.
Just under £4 million is going to the new research hub being constructed on the site of the old Western Infirmary as part of the £1bn campus development.
Space in the second level, dedicated to public engagement, will be named Shaw Plaza.
Around £2 million has also been donated for a new professorial chair in precision oncology, the Mazumdar-Shaw Chair.
Mr Shaw, who completed an MA in history/modern history in 1970, 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 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.
Mr Shaw said: “I was the chairman of the Adam Smith Society in my final year, 1970, and received a commission from the Officer Training Corps. I was awarded the Davidson Medal for Outstanding Cadet which I still deeply cherish. My time at the OTC was a very formative experience which taught me leadership and gave me the confidence to meet any challenge throughout my subsequent business career at Coats. It is this that binds me to my alma mater.”
The university’s principal and vice-chancellor, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, said: “We are deeply grateful to John and Kiran for this act of extraordinary generosity. “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.
They have long been supporters of the university, also helping develop the our strong scientific relationship with Biocon which includes joint PhDs at the university.”