SNL Comedian Launches Stem Cell Research Fellowship at Duke Medical Center

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Will Forte, writer, producer and cast member of NBC's "Saturday Night Live," announced the establishment of a medical student research fellowship in the field of stem cell biology at the amphitheater at Duke Clinics at Duke University Medical Center on Monday, Nov. 21. Forte is the national spokesperson for the Stem Cell Initiative for Eyes (SCIfEyes), a Raleigh-based, non-profit organization created to support research, training and public education in stem cell biology and to further the field by recognizing and supporting its potential for creating new therapies for the treatment of blinding and debilitating eye diseases.

"We are thrilled to welcome Will to Duke and to have him here for the launch of this fellowship," said Dennis Rickman, Ph.D., a research scientist in ophthalmology and neurobiology at Duke Eye Center, and founder and chairman of SCIfEyes. "We're especially excited about this opportunity because it is an important step in fulfilling the overall mission of SCIfEyes."

The fellowship, which will be awarded to a promising medical student attending Duke University School of Medicine, is designed to be used during the third year of medical school. At Duke, the third year is entirely research-oriented -- something unique among medical schools in the U.S.

Following the announcement, Forte and Rickman toured the Duke Eye Center’s Pediatrics Service.

Forte and Rickman are alumni of the Groundlings Theater, an improvisational comedy theater in Los Angeles. Groundlings has produced many other Saturday Night Live cast members, including Laraine Newman, Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Julia Sweeney, Cheri Oteri, Ana Gasteyer, Chris Kattan, Will Ferrell, Chris Parnell and Maya Rudolph.

To learn more about SCIfEyes, visit its website at