University News

University of New Haven Dedicates State-of-the-Art Research Laboratory

The Colleen Sorbello Research Laboratory in Dodds Hall, dedicated in memory of former Chargers football player and University benefactor Sam Sorbello’s late wife, will provide students with hands-on experience in all facets of biomedical research.

October 22, 2018

ribbon-cutting ceremony
Sam Sorbello joined members of his family, his late wife Colleen’s family, and members of the University community for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially dedicate the Colleen Sorbello Research Laboratory in Dodds Hall.

Sam Sorbello visited the University of New Haven in 2015 with his wife, Colleen, to attend a Chargers football game. The visit was meaningful, and not just because it brought back memories of his time as a Charger. It was during their time on campus that Sam and Colleen decided that they wanted to support the University of New Haven.

Although Colleen died of breast cancer last September, Sam continued her fight against the devastating disease, supporting the development of a state-of-the-art research laboratory at the University of New Haven. Last week, as part of its commemoration of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the University dedicated the Colleen Sorbello Research Laboratory, honoring Colleen’s legacy.

"It means everything," said Sam, following the dedication.

"This was Colleen’s dream. When we were here in 2015, we knew this was something we wanted to do. This is a dream come true." Sam Sorbello

The 800-square-foot space on the third floor of Dodds Hall houses 16 working stations, cutting-edge equipment, and a space for lectures and discussions. The collaborative space will enable students and faculty members to engage in important research in areas such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.

"In this lab, we will teach students not only how to do research, but how to ask the questions that will lead to better ways to treat cancer and many other human diseases," said Tina Zito, assistant professor of biology and environmental science.

Sam Sorbello
Sam Sorbello with his mother, Rose.

In addition to the laboratory, Sorbello is supporting the Colleen Sorbello Memorial Breast Cancer Research Award, which supports a student pursuing breast cancer research. Thania Rivera ’20 M.S., the first recipient of the award, says her family has a history of cancer, and she now hopes to embark on a long career in biomedical research.

"It is an honor to be the first recipient of this award," Rivera said. "I hope my work will make an impact on cancer research, and honor the memory of Colleen."

Sam Sorbello cut the ribbon to mark the dedication of the new laboratory, along with several friends, family members, and representatives of Pink Clover, the Colleen Sorbello Breast Cancer Foundation, which he founded in 2017 in honor of Colleen. The foundation continues Colleen’s mission by providing research, education, and awareness in an effort to find a cure for the disease. Sam says the laboratory is another way to honor Colleen’s memory.

"I want to continue to partner with the University, to continue to work closely together." Sam Sorbello

Added President Steven Kaplan: "I’m confident that the next big breakthrough in cancer research could very well begin in this laboratory."

Show Support

To support breast cancer research at the University of New Haven, visit the following crowdfunding page.

Support Cancer Research