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Alum’s generosity will benefit cancer researchers and patients for years to come

When alumnus Paul Bigley discovered an opportunity at Ohio State to support two of his passions—engineering and cancer research—he didn’t hesitate to give back to the place that has meant so much to him over his lifetime.

The retired chemical engineer (BS ’61) recently made a generous donation to support cancer research conducted by Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Professor Jessica Winter. The gift will help purchase equipment and train the next generation of cancer researchers.

“I’m just grateful for everything Ohio State has done for me,” Bigley said simply.

Paul Bigley with his daughter, Terri.

The encouragement he received as a Buckeye engineering student was especially impactful. School was difficult for him at times, Bigley said, as he struggled to balance family obligations with his studies. But the support he felt from university administration, and one individual in particular, pushed him to succeed.

“Joe Koffolt is a champion to me,” Bigley said of the former chemical engineering department chair. “I did struggle a little bit getting through school, but he was on my side all the way.”

Even more than his education, Bigley would say the greatest gift Ohio State has given him is the health of his daughter, Terri, a cancer survivor who was treated at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James). Bigley was so impressed with the skill of Terri’s surgical oncologist, Jeffrey Fowler, MD, and the care she received, that he made an additional contribution to support robotic surgery at the OSUCCC – James. And when he realized there was a way to support both chemical engineering and cancer research simultaneously by contributing to Professor Winter, he jumped at the chance to show his gratitude.

“I’m just trying to give back to Ohio State what they gave Terri,” he said. “And I’m so impressed with all of the advancements happening at the university – how much people have progressed and what they’re learning now. It’s just unbelievable.”

Bigley said he was “in awe” of Winter’s work especially. A cancer survivor herself, Winter’s current research is focused on developing new diagnostics and therapies for one of the deadliest cancers, gliomas.

“I am confident that I would not be alive without the research of prior generations and the care that I received at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. This generous donation allows me to pay it forward and make whatever small impact I can to very simply: stop cancer,” said Winter.

by Meggie Biss, College of Engineering Communications |