Natural Sciences

Pitt’s annual health sciences symposium is getting a new name

Written by Mamie M. Arndt

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The University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences has renamed its annual symposium at Naples, Florida, to the Vanscoy Winter Academy to honor a major commitment from Bethann and Gordon J. Vanscoy (PHARM ’84, BUS ’91G).

Gordon Vanscoy and his wife, Bethann, were on the host committee for the first Winter Academy in 2006 and have regularly attended and sponsored the annual day-long presentation of Pitt research advancements. Supported by this gift, the Vanscoy Winter Academy will be held annually in Naples, Florida, through 2042.

“Bethann and Gordon have long supported the University of Pittsburgh and our role in driving health sciences innovations,” said University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “Their investment in our winter academy series seems like a natural next step — and one that will elevate and celebrate our researchers and their successes over the next 20 years.”  

The annual winter event has become a visible and anticipated tradition for the University. Within the first few years of its inception, it consistently reached capacity, with approximately 400 attendees annually. Speakers at past events have presented breakthrough findings on cancer, vaccines, mental health issues, aging and opioid use.

In 2015 Vanscoy was a featured presenter and discussed the importance of delivering personalized medicine through specialty pharmacies.

“I’m extremely pleased to know the Vanscoy Winter Academy will be on our calendar for at least the next 20 years,” said Anantha Shekhar, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. “This event offers the University a unique opportunity to showcase some of the most novel, high-impact and interdisciplinary health care research with a wide group of alumni and friends.”

Vanscoy is the founding chair and CEO of Pittsburgh-based RareMed Solutions, LLC. He founded and held the same role with PANTHERx Rare. He has started and lead seven additional health care companies in the education, consulting, wellness, managed care, medical-legal, health technology and bio-agriculture fields.

For 35 years, he concurrently served as a Pitt faculty member and held multiple leadership roles at the University including associate dean for business innovation at the School of Pharmacy. Vanscoy led the development of Pitt’s Master’s in Pharmacy Business Administration degree program in 2015 and received the University’s highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Fellow Award, in 2017. In 2020, he won the Ernst & Young (EY) U.S. Entrepreneur of the Year Award and was a finalist in the 2021 EY World Entrepreneur of the Year competition held in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

“This was our opportunity to provide long-term foundational stability to Pitt’s Academy in Naples,” said Vanscoy. “It is a win-win situation, solidifying the continuing legacy of bringing Pitt’s health sciences talent and breakthroughs to our beloved town — shared by so many influential alumni and industry leaders. We hope that this gift is the inspiration for others to contribute to the Winter Academy and the broader mission of the University of Pittsburgh.”

The Vanscoys’ history of philanthropy to the University includes creation of a fund to support the Dr. Gordon J. Vanscoy School of Pharmacy White Coat ceremony, establishment of the Vanscoy Endowed Chair and support of a number of undergraduate and graduate scholarships.

This gift and the new name were formally announced at the 2022 event on March 18, with Chancellor Gallagher and Shekhar presenting a commemorative plaque to Gordon and Bethann to celebrate their commitment.

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Mamie M. Arndt