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UC Irvine Receives $10-Million Pledge for Stem Cell Research

July 06, 2006|Kelly-Anne Suarez | Times Staff Writer

Newport Beach bond fund manager Bill Gross and his wife, Sue, have pledged $10 million toward UC Irvine's stem cell research center, hoping to boost research that offers potential cures for many debilitating diseases.

The Grosses will give $2 million immediately for staffing and equipment, with a second gift of $8 million when that donation is matched.

UCI hopes the match will come through a grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to help build an $80-million research facility, UCI spokeswoman Farnaz Khadem said. The institute is funded by Proposition 71, which California voters passed in 2004. The measure allocated $3 billion to circumvent federal restrictions against embryonic stem cell research. The money has since been tied up in legal challenges to the proposition.

The Grosses recognized UCI as a leader in stem cell research and wanted to support an area considered a "new medical frontier," a family spokesman said in an e-mail.

The gift is the fifth-largest the university has received, topped by Paul Merage's 2005 donation of $30 million to the graduate school of business.

Gross, the founder and chief investment officer of Pimco, one of the largest bond and money market managers, has a strong philanthropic history in Orange County.

His family has donated $53 million to health and education organizations over the last 18 months, $20 million of which went to Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach to build and furnish a seven-story women's health tower.

Embryonic stem cells hold promise for treatment of a number of diseases, including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and juvenile diabetes, in addition to spinal cord injuries.

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