Photo of Robert Wyman
the latest

Robert Wyman: Paying it Forward

Mar 20, 2018

Robert Wyman, Professor of Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology at Yale University, has been an activist concerned with overpopulation for a long time. While he was on the Board of Planned Parenthood of Connecticut, he met PMC’s President, Bill Ryerson, and started serving on PMC’s Program Advisory Board. Bob said, “I knew right away that PMC had a fantastically effective program.” At the end of last year, Bob made an extraordinary gift to PMC, one that will help us shape the future.

“Bob’s magnificent contribution gave PMC a huge lift, allowing us to support some very high priority programs in Nigeria, Nepal, Haiti, and Guatemala,” says Bill Ryerson. “The good this gift will accomplish will be measured in dramatically improved lives for women and children in all of these countries.”

Many years ago, Bob and three other scientists started a biotech company. The first experiments were done in his basement. Eventually, that firm developed a modern, molecular biology method for making vaccines, replacing the method of growing live viruses in chicken eggs. Their flu vaccine, Flublok, is now widely available. Last year, the company was bought out and Bob’s founder’s shares became quite valuable.

“I donated the proceeds to PMC. Rather than buying some fancy toys, I get much more, and more lasting, pleasure knowing the wonderful progress for the world that PMC will achieve with the funds.”

Over the years, Bob and Bill’s mutual concern about global population growth have helped them maintain a strong friendship. In fact, Bill has regularly given guest lectures to Bob’s class on Population Growth at Yale. The course centers on the importance of addressing human population growth to alleviate both human and environmental misery.

“The world’s population has been growing at the amazingly constant rate of a BILLION people every dozen years since the 1960s. Each of these people needs to live somewhere, needs food from somewhere, their wastes have to go somewhere, they need a school, a job, some energy source, and maybe even some outdoors recreation somewhere. All these ‘somewheres’ are the environment,” says Bob.

“I ask my students to imagine the environmental footprint of an extra billion people every dozen years. Then, I ask them to compare this with the total achievements of the environmental movement in the same period. My reckoning is that population growth swamps the environmental efforts.  Environmentalism is a losing battle unless population growth is  moderated. That is why I think PMC’s work is so crucial. I’m a scientist. I cut right to the fundamental issues and deepest questions. We can’t have healthy environmental outcomes with ongoing rapid population growth, and PMC’s use of emotionally compelling stories to change attitudes, behaviors and social norms around the population issue are right at the cutting edge of innovation and effectiveness.”

Most gifts to nonprofits come as cash…someone writes a check or makes an online payment with a credit card. Bob’s gift was in the form of shares of stock. There are many vehicles for making gifts: charitable trusts, gift annuities, life insurance policies, real estate, and bequests to name a few. While we cannot give legal advice, the PMC Development Office is happy to discuss options and find what is right for you.