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Villanova University Student Brandon Wesley Named Gates Cambridge Scholar

Wesley was one of 35 U.S. students selected for the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship, awarded for outstanding academic ability and social leadership

Brandon Wesley

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University senior Brandon Wesley has been selected as a 2016 Gates Cambridge Scholar. Established by a donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Gates Cambridge Scholarship supports postgraduate studies at the University of Cambridge in England. Among the most prestigious and competitive scholarships, the program is unique in placing emphasis on both outstanding academic ability and social leadership in its admissions process. Wesley is the third Villanovan to receive the honor and the first since 2005.

“I am incredibly proud that another Villanovan has been named a Gates Cambridge scholar,” said the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, Villanova University President. “It is a prestigious honor and Brandon is a prime example of the type of student Villanova seeks to develop—one that is academically strong and shows a commitment to creating positive change in their chosen field.”

The 35 Gates Cambridge Scholars from the U.S., who will begin their academic coursework at Cambridge this fall, hail from 28 institutions. They were selected from an initial field of 826 applicants. Of the 35 scholars chosen, 22 will study for one-year master's degree courses, while 13 will pursue PhD degrees. The Gates Cambridge Trust receives more than 4,500 applications each year for 90 overall scholarships. The 35 U.S. Scholars will be joined by 55 scholars from other parts of the world, who will be announced in April.

“Thirty-five of the most academically brilliant and socially committed young people in the U.S. have been selected for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship at the University of Cambridge,” noted the Gates Cambridge Trust in announcing the recipients.

As a Gates Cambridge Scholar, Wesley will pursue a PhD in Surgery at the University of Cambridge, with a focus on using stem cell therapies to treat degenerative diseases. The Freehold, N.J. resident is a chemical engineering major in Villanova University’s College of Engineering. His interest in regenerative medicine developed while studying and conducting laboratory work at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Wesley also held a summer research position in pharmaceuticals at Merck & Co., Inc. He completed his undergraduate thesis in gene therapy, analyzing how different genetic elements affected the uptake and expression of a plasmid vector in cancer cells. Click here to read more about Wesley on the Gates Cambridge website.

“The 35 U.S. Scholars-elect are a highly accomplished and diverse group who have already achieved much in terms of their academic studies, leadership abilities and commitment to improving the lives of others,” said Professor Barry Everitt FRS, Provost of the Gates Cambridge Trust. “We are sure they will flourish at Cambridge and as Gates Cambridge Scholars—and have substantial impact across many areas in the future.”

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship is a prestigious postgraduate scholarship program established through a $210 million donation to the University of Cambridge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. To date, it remains the largest single donation to a UK university. Since the first class of Scholars were selected in 2001, more than 1,500 Gates Cambridge Scholarships have been awarded to Scholars from 103 countries and 600 universities—including more than 200 in the U.S. For more on the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, click here.

To learn more about fellowship opportunities for Villanova University students and alumni, please visit the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowship’s website at

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.