Stories

Clyde and Helen Wu

Donor / Clyde and Helen Wu

Married nearly 50 years, Clyde and Helen Wu have shared a life together marked by dual passions in music and medicine, which has manifested in philanthropic pursuits of the arts and sciences, both at Columbia University Medical Center and elsewhere. 

A renowned cardiopulmonary specialist, Dr. Clyde Wu has devoted his career to medical research in cardiology and medical education. Born in Hong Kong in 1933, he immigrated to the United States to study medicine. He received his bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1952 and his medical degree from Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1956. That same year he met his wife, a concert pianist. 

The Wu family has a long history of giving to Columbia University. In the 1980s, Clyde and Helen Wu presented a gift to construct a piano practice room in Bard Hall, a P&S student residence—outfitting it with a piano once owned by world-famous pianist and composer Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff. 

They later established an interest-free student loan endowment fund to ease the financial burden of education and training. The Wus have established five Clyde and Helen Wu Professorships in Medicine, Clinical Oncology, Immunology, Molecular Cardiology, and Chemical Biology. 

They also gave a gift to permanently endow the Clyde and Helen Wu Center for Molecular Cardiology at CUMC, supporting the Center’s efforts to aggressively search for a cure for diseases of the heart. Most recently, the Wus committed extraordinary support for the new Medical and Graduate Education Building, as part of CUMC's Campus Revitalization initiative.

A former Columbia University trustee, Dr. Wu served as chair of the Board’s Health Sciences Committee, and currently serves on CUMC’s Board of Visitors. 

Today, Clyde and Helen Wu remain inspirational benefactors of CUMC, believing in being an engaged part of its mission to educate future physicians and scientists, provide skilled patient care, and conduct innovative research.

“He has this tremendous love for P&S,” said Dr. P. Roy Vagelos, chair of CUMC’s Board of Visitors, of Dr. Wu in a video tribute to the couple that aired at the College of Physicians and Surgeons’ Crown Awards on Oct. 26.

“He is interested in research, our students, our faculty and our ability to recruit top people.”

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