The Promise of Niagara

The Family of the Late Dr. Lawrence Jacobs Gives $1 Million Gift

January 21, 2010

Niagara University announced today that it has received a $1 million gift from the family of the late Dr. Lawrence D. Jacobs, a member of the university’s class of 1961. The gift will be applied toward the construction of the university’s new science facility.

“Niagara was a very special place for Larry,” said his wife, Pamela R. Jacobs-Vogt. “It was where he discovered his dream of a career in medicine, and he thoroughly enjoyed being a student there. This gift is an endorsement of the vision that the university is pursuing related to a world-class science and research center.”

The Jacobs family’s gift will bring Niagara University closer to the construction of the B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences, a $33 million facility that will provide teaching laboratories and space to support cutting-edge integrated research collaborations among faculty and students in biology, biochemistry, chemistry and physics, and prepare students for leadership in the medical profession.

“We are grateful to the members of Dr. Larry Jacobs’ family for their generous support of our science program,” said the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., president of Niagara University. “In assisting Niagara to build our science center, this gift will enhance the educational experiences of countless students and enable them to follow the example of Dr. Jacobs by pursuing careers that improve the lives of others.”

“Niagara has always recognized and encouraged Larry’s work,” Jacobs-Vogt said. “It seemed most appropriate for our family to honor Larry and thank Niagara by making this gift to the science center. It will serve as a way for future generations of the Jacobs family, as well as Niagara University students, to know more about Larry’s research. We also hope it will serve as an inspiration for students to pursue careers in the science field.”

Jacobs, an internationally acclaimed researcher who developed the first treatment proven to slow the progress of multiple sclerosis, earned his medical degree from St. Louis University and served his residency at Mt. Sinai Hospital and School of Medicine in New York City. A specialist in the field of neurology, Jacobs dedicated his life to conquering MS and other illnesses. He served as a member of Niagara University’s board of trustees from 1993 to 1997.

“I am thrilled that Pam Jacobs-Vogt and her family have chosen Niagara University for this significant gift. This gift is a vote of confidence in our vision and it will allow us to recognize in a significant way Dr. Jacobs, one of Niagara’s outstanding science graduates,” said Dr. Nancy McGlen, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “His medical research on multiple sclerosis is a wonderful role model that we try to follow with our commitment to student/faculty research on coronary artery disease and cancer.”
In 2009, 85 percent of Niagara’s science students performed research with faculty, much of it leading to publication in peer-reviewed journals and presentations at regional and national conferences.

Founded by the Vincentian Community in 1856, Niagara University is a private liberal arts university with a strong, values-based Catholic tradition. Its four academic divisions include the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Education, and Hospitality and Tourism Management. The university also maintains an Academic Exploration Program that provides a learning community for students who are undecided about their major.

About Dr. Lawrence Jacobs

Lawrence D. Jacobs, M.D., was a lifelong Buffalo, N.Y., resident and internationally acclaimed researcher in the field of multiple sclerosis. Dr. Jacobs was chair of the Department of Neurology of the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and director of The Jacobs Neurological Institute and the Baird Multiple Sclerosis Research Center at Kaleida Health Buffalo General Hospital. World-renowned for his breakthroughs in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS), Dr. Jacobs was principal investigator for the National Institutes of Health-sponsored clinical trial, which led to FDA approval of interferon beta-1a (Avonex®), the most widely prescribed drug for patients suffering from relapsing MS. Avonex® was the first treatment shown to slow the progression of disability in MS, thus offering a better quality of life to the more than 350,000 individuals in North America who live with this form of the disease.

Dr. Jacobs was also an invited lecturer at medical institutions and professional meetings throughout the world, and brought to Buffalo physician preceptors from 38 countries. He authored more than 200 publications on neurology and was a member of the editorial boards of several journals. Dr. Jacobs served on the board of the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies, was a founding member and officer of the board of directors of the American Academy of Neurology Education and Research Foundation, and president of the American Society of Neuroimaging.

Dr. Jacobs was a graduate of St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute and Niagara University. He earned his medical degree from St. Louis University and served his residency at Mt. Sinai Hospital and School of Medicine in New York City. Upon completing his medical training, he returned to his hometown of Buffalo to become an attending physician at Millard Fillmore Hospital, where he was chief of research at The Dent Neurological Institute from 1985-1989. He passed away in 2001.