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Giving in Action: Tragedy begets generosity

Posted by on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 in Giving in Action, Vanderbilt Community, Winter 2018 .

Keith Nolop, MD’79, was a brilliant physician and researcher whose life was cut short in 2016 due to trauma from a bicycle accident.

To create something positive out of this tragedy and to commemorate his life as a physician-researcher, his brothers, Neil and Bruce, endowed the Keith Nolop, M.D. Scholarship at the School of Medicine through a $1 million estate gift.

“Even as a kid, Keith was interested in how things worked. He had the natural curiosity and brainpower to be a superb scientist. He had perfect grades all throughout school. His interest in science, and later biology, flourished when he attended the University of South Dakota where he earned his bachelor’s degree and then Vanderbilt where he earned his medical degree. Our family felt it would be perfectly appropriate for us to donate part of Keith’s estate to Vanderbilt to help support deserving MD or MD/PhD students at the School of Medicine,” said Neil Nolop.

Graduating first in his medical school class, Nolop had a distinguished 25-year career in drug development. His discoveries included the allergy drug Nasonex, a groundbreaking melanoma treatment and other innovative cancer therapies.

“We are enormously proud of what Keith accomplished while working on drug development and cancer research, and we are confident that he would have been proud to support Vanderbilt through a scholarship in his name,” Neil Nolop said.

Julian Genkins, class of 2018, is one of the recipients of the Nolop family’s generous gift and plans to pursue a career in critical care medicine.

“The scholarship to Vanderbilt made my decision about where to attend much easier. I am not accumulating debt which has alleviated a lot of stress for me. This has allowed me to focus on learning, taking care of patients and being the best student doctor I can be while still having a balanced life. Also, it has allowed me to pursue the type of medicine that interests me instead of thinking about future income and debt,” Genkins said.

Just like his benefactor, Genkins was always drawn to science.

“I have always loved science, so medicine appeals to me. I love teaching and helping others through science. Because I am an extrovert, I am drawn to a career with a lot of social interaction.”

While friends remember Keith as a brilliant scientist with a kind heart and a zest for life, his scholarship recipients will remember him as the one who made their dreams of medical school a reality.