Charles Vickers '47
The Charles J. Vickers '47 and Anne B. Vickers Tissue Culture Facility at Saint Peter's University has been a training ground for future scientists and medical professionals since it opened in 2008.
Research done by Leonard Sciorra, Ph.D., and his students in that facility has resulted in an innovative procedure involving non-embryonic stem cells, which may have medical implications far beyond Kennedy Boulevard.
"I could not have done any of the research without their generous support. We are fortunate to have Mr. and Mrs. Vickers helping us," Sciorra says. "Because we have this facility, the students get valuable experience that they can use in applying for jobs, as well as become part of a research team that often results in being able to make presentations to various national and international meetings."
Vickers says he is impressed with the groundbreaking work being done in the facility. "There is great progress being made regarding repairing and constructing human organs using tissue culture methods," he says. "With continued aggressive research, including the employment of the latest sophisticated instruments, it is expected that breakthroughs will be made in the not-too-distant future. This fascinating undertaking is an exciting challenge for science students."
The students' hands-on experience in the tissue culture facility is a great benefit for their graduate studies and future employment. Sciorra says many of his students have gone on to research positions at the NYU School of Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and have been accepted to Ph.D. and M.D. programs at Princeton University, New York University, MIT, Rutgers University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, UCLA and Oxford University.
Gift Supports Future Generations
Vickers, who earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University, supported the establishment of the tissue culture facility and the renovation of the organic chemistry laboratory in 1998 as a way to give back to his alma mater.
He worked in sales and marketing for companies such as Allied Chemical, Sheffield Chemical, Stauffer Chemical and Geigy, and wanted to procure his own business throughout his career. The idea of managing all aspects appealed to him, but the risk of going off independently while providing for his family was too great.
"At around age 63, I decided the time had come for me to fish or cut bait," he says. "I chose the former and started fulfilling my dream."
Vickers started a pharmaceutical chemical distribution company, Orbichem Inc. He sold it seven years later to Marcor Development Corporation and retired.
After decades of support and loyalty to his alma mater, it is no wonder Vickers has chosen to name Saint Peter's University as a beneficiary of his IRA. His legacy will benefit the tissue culture facility and enable future generations of students to fulfill their dreams.
Career Shaped at Saint Peter's
A native of Hoboken, Vickers' interest in the sciences was nurtured at Saint Peter's Prep. In 1943, his college years were interrupted by three years in the Navy as a lieutenant junior grade executive officer aboard Landing Craft Infantry 867 in the Pacific Theater.
While at the University, he was inspired by Fred Jacques Sr. '34, J. Kenneth Smith, Thomas Shea, Rev. Joseph Schuh, S.J., and Dr. Ireland in the sciences; Richard Nevin in English; and Rev. Thomas Chetwood, S.J., and Rev. R. Rush Rankin, S.J., in philosophy and ethics, respectively.
"All these disciplines raised my cultural level and confidence and enabled me to have an interesting and rewarding business career and private life," Vickers says.
His involvement in co-curricular activities at the University had been a particularly rewarding part of his college experience. He was a member of the Collins Chemistry Society, track team, Argus Eyes and Glee Club, and served as an assistant editor of the arts and culture section of the Pauw Wow.
Charlie and Anne live in Stamford, Conn. Married since 1977, they have five children and five grandchildren.