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Gorman Scholars

Beyond Med School

The Gorman family helps students find unusual careers

Kevin Gorman understands that success is not a straight line. His company grew from a raw seed startup in a San Diego garage to a $2.6 billion enterprise. As founder and CEO of Neurocrine, Kevin navigated complex challenges. Today, Neurocrine is an $8 billion company with 650 employees and two FDA-approved drugs prescribed to thousands of patients. Before these achievements, Kevin was an undergraduate trying to find his path. By establishing the Gorman Scholars Program through UC Santa Barbara’s Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships, Kevin helps students experience careers beyond medical school and academia.

Venture capitalism. Wall Street. Medical writing. The FDA. Pharmaceutical companies. Technologies like CRISPR and stem cell therapy. Through his philanthropy, Kevin wants to show STEM majors that it’s an exciting time for the life sciences.

“Students are making career decisions before having any data,” said Kevin. The Gorman Scholars Program provides them with the experience to make informed choices.

Kevin’s family has spent their lives in UC schools. His wife Cynthia ’82, daughter Kara ’16, and son Alex ’20 are all Gauchos. As Kevin got to know UC Santa Barbara, he noticed how the school created opportunities for kids with fewer advantages, and he knew he could help.

A scientist by training, Kevin earned his B.A. and Ph.D. at UCLA with every intention of staying in academia. In 1987, the emerging field of biotechnology caught his imagination. Kevin left his postdoctoral fellowship at Rockefeller University and returned to UCLA for an MBA that led to a position funding biotechnology startups.

The Gorman Scholars Program gives undergraduates the confidence and experience to make their own bold moves. Students across all STEM majors receive invaluable mentorship while pursuing innovative research projects. Gorman Scholars embark on a year of scientific exploration, starting with a full-time, 10-week summer research experience. Faculty mentors design enrichment activities tailored to the interests and goals of each student.

“I not only learned how to troubleshoot and be independent, but also how to communicate with my mentors and work as a team,” said Gorman Scholar Neda Kajbaf ’19, who studies developmental biology. “I grew into a scientist who is ready to spend her life in a cell culture room searching for biomedical solutions to skin cancer.”

Neda Kajbaf ’19, Gorman Scholar
Neda Kajbaf ’19 (center), Gorman Scholar

Kevin’s vision isn’t limited to preparing students for STEM careers.

“One student said, ‘It was great, and it solidified that I want to go into music.’ That’s really good,” said Kevin. “You would have wasted a whole lot of time in life had you not learned that early on.”

That student, physics and trumpet performance double major David Nakazono ’18, then embarked on a master’s in music. He says the Gorman Scholars Program taught him networking and presenting skills that have proven invaluable in his life as a professional musician.

Kevin extends his philosophy to his company, where he offers internships to students who may not otherwise have the resources and connections to obtain them.

“People gave me chances and opportunities that, on paper, I shouldn’t have deserved,” said Kevin. “That’s what I do at UCSB and Neurocrine: give kids opportunities.”