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Donor Stories

Gifts from the Heart Support Research into the Mind

Photo of Emil, Kamel, and Bill Bahary

For brothers Kamel, Emil, and Bill Bahary, Columbia University is more than just their alma mater. It's their intellectual home—a place that laid the foundation for their careers and lives and that continues to inspire them.

Only a short time after arriving in America from Iran, a young Kamel Bahary ’54CC had to decide on a college. “I mentioned to my headmaster that I’d chosen to go to a college in Ohio," recalls Kamel. "He asked if I’d ever considered staying in New York City.”

Upon his headmaster’s suggestion, Kamel applied to Columbia and was accepted. “This was in August, by the way,”says Kamel, “so when I met with the director of admissions, he was quick to point out that school would be starting that next week!”

“By funding fellowships, we can provide support for
students and their research for generations to come.
What better way to show our appreciation to Columbia?”

Kamel’s younger brothers didn't follow him to Columbia, at least not right away. Emil ’57BUS, ’62SEAS, ’69SEAS completed his undergraduate studies at Cornell; and Bill ’61GSAS went to Harvard, yet both returned to the city for graduate school at Columbia.

All three brothers look back fondly on their Columbia days. “The arts, sciences, humanities, genetics—everything I studied helped make a frame for my life,” says Kamel, “and I was learning from the finest teachers in the world.”

Emil recalls the community of fellow scholars and the friendships he formed, many of which he still enjoys to this day. “Columbia was an outstanding environment for learning and personal growth,” he says.

Bill agrees. “It laid the groundwork for a life of learning, understanding, and adapting,” he says. “The preparation helped guide me through several different phases of my career.”

Today the brothers share an interest in understanding the connections among the mind, the brain, and the body. Inspired in part by the writings of Nobel laureate Dr. Eric Kandel, co-director of the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute at Columbia, and with the hope that research in this area could lead to treatments for the neurological diseases that affect our aging population, the brothers chose to endow scholarships and fellowships for neuroscience and biological chemistry undergraduate and graduate students.

They each established one or more charitable remainder unitrusts, a type of trust that makes lifetime payments to you (or other beneficiaries you designate) with the remainder going to Columbia for the use you specify.

Kamel’s gifts will establish the Kamel S. Bahary Scholarship Fund, funding scholarships for Columbia College students majoring in neuroscience, and the Kamel S. Bahary Fellowship Fund, funding fellowships for doctoral students studying neuroscience in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Emil’s gifts will create two Emil S. Bahary Fellowship Funds: one supporting fellowships for doctoral students studying neuroscience in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and one supporting fellowships for doctoral students in the department of biomedical engineering at The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Bill’s gift will establish the William and Susan Bahary Endowment Fund, funding fellowships for doctoral students in the chemistry department of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, with preference given to those studying biological chemistry and mind-brain chemistry.

“These gifts are something tangible,” says Bill. “When you leave money to an heir, anything can happen; but with a fellowship or other endowment, you know exactly what your gift will be used for and that the benefit lasts in perpetuity.”

Bill adds that he and his brothers are not making their gifts to Columbia with the intention of inspiring others to give. "If that happens, great,” he says, “but we give because it inspires us. It feels good doing it, and it motivates us to continue doing more of what we love.”



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