Entrepreneur with Donegal roots supports Medical Education Scholarships with $100,000 donation

1 December 2020

Entrepreneur with Donegal roots supports Medical Education Scholarships with $100,000 donation
Entrepreneur with Donegal roots supports Medical Education Scholarships with $100,000 donation

Ulster University is proud to launch new Medical Education Scholarships which will ensure equality of access for aspiring medical students in the North West.

Dr Susan K Whoriskey, a US-based research scientist and pioneering biotechnology entrepreneur with strong Donegal roots, has donated $100,000 through the Irish American Partnership. This generous donation will support three students through each year of their four-year degree at the School of Medicine.

Inspired by a family tradition of research in medicine, Dr Whoriskey became a research scientist and pioneering biotechnology entrepreneur. She has worked with Moderna since it was a start-up and has been involved in the founding of several top biotech companies, including Cubist, Momenta and Vera, all of which are working on a covid-19 vaccine.

She has also been Entrepreneur in Residence at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Speaking from her home in Massachusetts, Dr Whoriskey said:

“As human beings we are most vulnerable when we or a loved one is sick. Educating doctors is a moral value for caring for others. What better way for me to put my belief into practice than to step up myself to support these medical students. I hope that my gift inspires others to give to the Ulster University School of Medicine. As the first medical school in that area, it will provide doctors to serve in that community – truly a gift that keeps on giving.”

Foundation Dean of the School of Medicine, Professor Louise Dubras who will lead the School of Medicine said:

“We want the next generation of our healthcare workforce to truly represent the communities they will serve. Widening access to the opportunity to study medicine is something we are passionate about at Ulster University and our School of Medicine which will train community-focused, globally ambitious doctors. We have already seen our community come together, with local and global companies such as Optum Ireland coming on board, as well as individual donors.

We are immensely grateful to Dr Whoriskey for her transformative gift which demonstrates a deep commitment to medical students in the North West, an area close to her heart given her deep family roots here. We hope Susan’s visionary gift will inspire others to support the widening of access to study medicine at Ulster University”.

From there to here: an inspirational family legacy

Dr Whoriskey who is an Honorary Graduate of Ulster University, has rich ties to the North West and there is a strong family tradition of research in medicine:

  • Dr Whoriskey’s Great-Grandfather, John Whoriskey from Creeslough, Co. Donegal departed Derry in a boat during the Great Irish Famine.
  • His son, John J. Whoriskey, went on to study at Harvard Medical School. John J. (who was Susan’s Grandfather) ran smallpox vaccination clinics and cared for Tuberculosis patients and victims of the 1918 flu pandemic.
  • John J. Whoriskey passed down his love of medicine to his sons whom both attended Harvard and Tufts Medical School.
  • Susan’s father Frederick was the Medical Director of the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Memorial Hospital and Chief of Staff at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, where he vaccinated children against polio.

Today, Dr Whoriskey is keeping the family legacy alive through her pioneering work as a biotechnology entrepreneur.

The Ulster University Medical Education Scholarships

The Medical Education Scholarships at Ulster University are designed to offer financial assistance through a variety of scholarships to a limited number of eligible students who are successful in obtaining a place to study on the Graduate Entry Medicine programme, commencing August 2021.

The Scholarships are aimed at students who have, and/or continue to experience challenges, and where finances present as a barrier to accessing a medical education.

You can get further information about the Medical Education Scholarships including eligibility criteria and key milestones.

The Ulster University School of Medicine

The establishment of a School of Medicine in Ulster University’s Magee campus in Derry city is a significant development for the North West City region. Ulster University’s School of Medicine will offer a Graduate Entry Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) medical degree programme that is unique in Northern Ireland.

In 2018, The Department of Health commissioned a Review of Medical School Places which recommended that Northern Ireland needs 100 more medical students a year to meet the increasing demand for doctors. The new School of Medicine at Magee will address departmental recommendations by providing access to medical education in the North West, positioning the Derry~Londonderry City region as an attractive place to study and work.

The School of Medicine based at the Magee Campus further builds on Ulster University’s capacity to deliver life-changing education and research, supporting the health and well-being agenda in Northern Ireland. The School is one of four transformational projects planned by Ulster University as part of the Derry and Strabane City Deal which represents a £250m investment in the city and region.


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