A remarkable woman with an impressive career and humanitarian journey, Mamdouha El-Sayed was born in 1925 in Tripoli, North Lebanon. She graduated from the American University of Beirut in 1947 and left Lebanon in pursuit of an M.A. in Sociology from the Birmingham University in the United Kingdom.
Mamdouha took her education even further, earning an M.A. in Public Health Education from UC Berkeley, USA. Shortly after, she went to lead a career at various United Nations' agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and then the U.N. Headquarters in New York, where she was appointed by former Lebanese Prime Minister Rashid Karami as a delegate to the United Nations' General Assembly.
While in New York, Mamdouha met her future husband whom she married in 1961: Elmer Holmes Bobst, Chairman and CEO of Hoffman Laroche and Warner-Lambert. At the time, Bobst was a philanthropist and a close friend of the White House, where he acted as an advisor on health-related issues.
Bobst was also a founder of the American Cancer Society and was rumored to have heavily influenced the signing of the National Cancer Act in 1971 by then-President Nixon.
In 1968, Elmer and Mamdouha established the Elmer and Mamdouha Bobst Foundation. The impact of their philanthropy has been wide-ranging. Among their beneficiaries: The America Cancer Society; Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and even Princeton University.
Ten years after the launching of the foundation, in 1978, Elmer died at the age of 93, and Mamdouha committed herself since then to complete their shared legacy, which also included Lebanon.
In fact, the Elmer and Mamdouha Bobst Foundation is one of AUB’s greatest supporters, with generous donations across all areas of academia and research.
At AUBMC, the foundation has made numerous fundamental contributions, among which: mammography and radiology equipment, the Linear Accelerator, the Mamdouha El-Sayed Bobst Breast Unit, the Mamdouha Bobst Mammography Fund, the Mamdouha El-Sayed Bobst Medical Student Fund, as well as gifts toward the AUB Medical Emergency Fund and the Displaced Needy Patient Fund.
The couple’s extraordinary legacy and support for education and medicine, and specifically cancer research and treatment, has improved the lives of thousands of individuals and will continue to do so in the future.
Mamdouha El-Sayed Bobst died on September 10, 2015, in New York City; she was 90 years old when she passed. Currently, her niece Randa El-Sayed Haffar serves as the Director of the Bobst Foundation.