Irvine, Calif., July 5, 2006 -- Sue J. Gross and William H. Gross have made a $10 million gift to UC Irvine to support stem cell research. Two million dollars of the contribution will be immediately allocated to support the Stem Cell Research Center at UCI. The remaining $8 million will come to the university as a matching gift in support of the construction of a proposed Stem Cell Research Center building. UCI plans to apply to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine for a facilities grant to build the structure when funds from Proposition 71 become available.
"We are immensely grateful to Sue and Bill for their generosity and for their belief in the promise of stem cell research for addressing a variety of fundamental questions about human disease," said Chancellor Michael Drake. "This gift will allow UCI to build an outstanding facility in which scientists from around the world may collaborate and propel forward this critical area of research."
Over the last few years, Sue and Bill Gross have developed a keen interest in health care and advances in stem cell research. Aware of their interest, the couple was invited to tour UCI's Reeve-Irvine Research Center last fall by their friends Edward Thorp, a founding UCI faculty member and pioneer in the field of quantitative finance, and attorney Paul Marx and his wife, Monica. The Grosses later became aware of Hans S. Keirstead, an associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology at UCI and one of the nation's pioneers in human embryonic stem cell research, after his work was featured on "60 Minutes" in February. The television news magazine described his use of a treatment derived from human embryonic stem cells to improve mobility in laboratory animals with spinal cord injuries.
Bill Gross is founder and CIO of the Newport Beach-based international investment firm PIMCO. He is one of the world's most prominent bond investors, managing nearly $700 billion in assets. The Grosses are known for their generous gifts to educational and health care institutions; last year, they made sizable donations to Duke University and Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian. Additionally, the couple annually fund the Orange County Teachers of the Year awards.
"Stem cell research brings new hope for finding cures for debilitating diseases and conditions," said Sue Gross. "We are grateful for the opportunity to help facilitate research that will provide vast benefits for the citizens of Orange County and beyond."
"We feel it is important to face your convictions and do the right thing -- even if controversy follows a cause you support," Bill added. "Stem cell research will improve and save lives, and we want to do our part to help make that happen."
With this gift, UCI continues its development as one of the premier centers for stem cell research in Southern California. Earlier this year, the university recruited Peter Donovan, a developmental biologist renowned for pioneering research into the basic properties of stem cells. Donovan, who was previously at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, recently defined critical characteristics of stem cell survival that are expected to guide the next generation of stem cell therapies. In addition, Keirstead announced last month that he will generate up to five new human embryonic stem cell lines to be used for research into treatments for spinal cord injury and diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson's disease.
"This gift is immeasurably important for allowing our talented scientists to continue their work with stem cells, and to recruit more scientists to UCI," said Susan V. Bryant, dean of the School of Biological Sciences. "With current restrictions on federal funding for stem cell research, it is the support and generosity of people like the Grosses that will make treatments and cures based on stem cells a reality that much sooner."
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