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Spring/Summer 2012

Snowballing to Success

Date: May 14, 2012

Class of ’85 Reunion co-chairs Arnold-Peter Weiss (left) and Ross Jaffe joined Dean Edward Miller in celebrating their class's highly successful fundraising effort.
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Class of ’85 Reunion co-chairs Arnold-Peter Weiss (left) and Ross Jaffe joined Dean Edward Miller in celebrating their class's highly successful fundraising effort.

When Ross Jaffe and Arnold-Peter Weiss, co-chairs of their Class of 1985 25th reunion, issued a generous challenge to their classmates, they launched more than a highly successful reunion gift effort. Their pledge—to match 1:1 new class gifts, up to $100,000—inspired a surge of support. The collective contribution of the class totaled more than $620,000 in commitments, including the creation of two endowed funds, the Drs. Beth and Warren Bromberg Scholarship Fund and the Solomon H. Snyder Laboratory Alumni Fund for Medical Education and Research Training.        

“Peter and I were very pleased with the response,” says Jaffe. “We felt that we had an exceptional class and we wanted our class to make an outstanding contribution to the school that helped launch all of our medical careers.”

The total not only illustrates the superb motivation offered by a challenge—which in this case doubled the value of the first $100,000 in individual gifts—but reflects how some gifts can promote many others.

A key example is that of Jeffrey Nye, MD/PhD ’88, Class of 1985, who saw this challenge as an opportunity not only to make a significant commitment but to honor an inspiring mentor in a way that would encourage gifts from others, as well.

Nye, a pharmaceuticals executive, earned his PhD at Hopkins under the guidance of Solomon H. Snyder, for whom the Department of Neuroscience is named. After discussions with the reunion committee and with Hopkins development officers, Nye made his substantial commitment to establish the Solomon H. Snyder Laboratory Alumni Fund.

The endowed fund, to benefit the MD/PhD program in the School of Medicine, accounts for more than $100,000 of the class total raised at reunion. Nye has since reached out  to other MD/PhD graduates, which has resulted in additional commitments bringing the fund  closer to the $1 million goal.

“Sol’s former students were enthusiastic about honoring him,” he says.  “I am thrilled to have been a catalyst in this way.”

Student aid was also bolstered by an additional $250,000 of the reunion total that supported three other endowed scholarship funds.

But the story doesn’t end there. Nye’s gift is also being matched 2:1 by Johnson & Johnson, where he is head of Neuroscience External Innovation at its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies in Titusville, New Jersey.

Nye explains that one purpose in setting up the endowment is to provide financial aid that will enable more physicians to consider PhD training. “The MD/PhD program allows physicians to dig deeply into basic science and equips them to make fundamental contributions to the advancement of medicine,” he says. “Its graduates are in leadership positions across the country.”

Many of those graduates trained under Snyder. “Sol is like a father to so many of his trainees who continue to rely on his advice,” Nye says. “He’s a good friend and wonderful colleague.” Snyder, Distinguished Service Professor of Neuroscience, Pharmacology and Psychiatry, won the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award in 1978 for his discovery of the nature of opiate receptors in the brain and the importance of this system in human physiology. To learn more about his career, neurosciences, and basic biomedical research, please visit

“We were delighted with Jeff’s pledge and the momentum gained from the establishment of the Snyder Fund,” says Jaffe, co-founder and managing director of Versant Ventures, a health care–focused venture capital firm in Menlo Park, California. “It was a pleasure to contribute to it.”

Weiss, who has led the Class of 1985 annual giving efforts for 20 years, says the class is cohesive and shared a great time at Hopkins. “For this 25th reunion, the committee wanted to push our classmates a little,” he adds. “A challenge gets people going. It’s something to hang their hats on. We are delighted with the results.” Weiss is professor of orthopedics and associate dean of medicine at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School, where he also is the R. Scot Sellers Scholar of Hand Surgery.

Before joining Johnson & Johnson, Nye was assistant professor at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and then a tenured associate professor of Molecular Pharmacology and Biological Chemistry and of Pediatrics (Neurology) before joining the pharmaceutical industry.

To learn more about making a gift to the Solomon H. Snyder Laboratory Alumni Fund for Medical Education and Research Training, or to any other area, please contact the School of Medicine Development and Alumni Relations Office at 410-516-0776 or, or visit  JF