Carnegie Mellon University

Glen de Vries

November 12, 2021

CMU Mourns Glen de Vries

Trustee, alumnus and advocate was one of the university's most ardent supporters

By Brian Thornton

Shilpa Bakre
  • University Communications & Marketing
  • 512-705-1228

The Carnegie Mellon University community is mourning the loss of alumnus and Trustee Glen de Vries, who died tragically on Nov. 11 in an airplane crash in New Jersey.

A 1994 graduate of the Mellon College of Science with a degree in molecular biology and genetics, de Vries was a tireless advocate for his alma mater. He served as a member of the university's Board of Trustees, and recently was named the chair of the university's Make Possible campaign. He also was a member of the Mellon College of Science Dean's Council. Previously, de Vries served on the President's Global Advisory Council, was a speaker and host of numerous CMU events, and provided mentorship to students in the Mellon College of Science and the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship.

"The entire Carnegie Mellon University community is devastated by the loss of alumnus and trustee Glen de Vries," said CMU President Farnam Jahanian. "To be in Glen's presence was to be immersed in his exuberance and zest for life, and I am filled with tremendous sorrow that we will no longer be able to experience this gift or share it with others."

In 1999, de Vries co-founded Medidata Solutions with partners Tarek Sherif and Ed Ikeguchi, and served as its president. Through de Vries' leadership, Medidata became the most-used cloud platform in the world for life sciences research and clinical development. It was acquired by Dassault Systèmes in 2019, and de Vries became vice-chair of life sciences and healthcare.

Before Medidata, de Vries worked as a research scientist at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, a position that came about after de Vries connected with a CMU alumnus while working as a student for the university's Telefund, a story he was proud to tell. He also studied computer science at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematics.

In recognition of his global impact, the university in 2017 honored de Vries with its Alumni Achievement Award.

"Glen loved Carnegie Mellon, and believed with every fiber of his being in the important work being done here," said David Coulter, chair of the CMU Board of Trustees. "The loss of one of our greatest advocates, and a friend to so many in this community, is devastating."

In October, de Vries achieved one of his lifelong dreams of traveling to space when he was a passenger aboard New Shepard NS-18, the second Blue Origin flight to carry humans. He was joined on the flight, which was followed by audiences around the world, by actor William Shatner, Chris Boshuizen and Audrey Powers. Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos greeted the passengers upon their return.

"Playing a part in advancing the space industry and one day making those resources and that understanding available to everyone is an incredible opportunity," de Vries said before his flight. "I've been passionate about aviation and space for as long as I can remember, so this flight is truly a dream come true."

In 2017, de Vries endowed the deanship of the Mellon College of Science. His also provided generous support for graduate student fellowships and for the university's health and wellness initiative.

At the time of endowing the deanship, de Vries said: "CMU had a profound effect on me, personally and professionally. It is an incredible privilege to support the university, and to help perpetuate the dynamic learning environment in and around MCS."

"Glen de Vries was a champion for science. He shared Carnegie Mellon and the Mellon College of Science's vision for a technology-driven future of science and rallied support for this vision everywhere he went," said Rebecca Doerge, the inaugural Glen de Vries Dean of the Mellon College of Science. "What he has done for the university over the years has been truly transformational. Glen's legacy will live on through everything the Mellon College of Science accomplishes now and into the future."

In addition to his service at CMU, de Vries was a Columbia HITLAB Fellow, a member of the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association European Advisory Board, and served on the board of the Young Scientist Foundation, which prepares high school students for success at the university level through training and mentorship.