A $5 million gift from Julia and George Argyros to UC Irvine’s Gavin Herbert Eye Institute was announced Thursday, April 7, at “Science Under the Stars,” the second annual UCI School of Medicine gala.

The gift will establish the Julia & George Argyros Ambulatory Surgery Center in the newest and most state-of-the-art eye care and treatment facility to be built on the West Coast. The gala doubled as a groundbreaking ceremony for the 70,000-square-foot institute, which will house patient exam and waiting areas, the outpatient surgery center, an optical shop, and faculty office and conference space. The Argyros donation will go toward the nearly $31 million estimated cost of the building. Construction is expected to be completed in 2013.

“Julia and George Argyros’ histories – along with Gavin Herbert’s – as builders and leaders in Orange County run deep,” said UCI Chancellor Michael Drake, “and we are especially proud they have joined us in personal support of the institute. We cannot think of a more fitting way to acknowledge their support than by naming the ambulatory surgery center in their honor.”

The Gavin Herbert Eye Institute’s mission is to develop educational programs, technologies and clinical solutions that enhance visual health and performance for people in Orange County, the nation and the world through cooperation with medical professionals, industry and the community. Gavin Herbert, founder and former CEO of Allergan Inc. – an Irvine-based maker of eye care and other products, including Botox Cosmetic – along with his mother, Josephine Gleis, made the initial $10 million naming gift in 2007. Another $13 million in commitments also has been secured.

“We’re close to building something special,” Herbert said, “something we’ve dreamed about for more than 30 years. I’ve known and respected my good friends George and Julia Argyros for decades and have watched their substantial contributions to Orange County. I’m delighted that they’re joining me in helping provide these much-needed services to the community.”

Jim Mazzo, chairman and CEO of Abbott Medical Optics Inc., in Santa Ana, noted that bringing eye care services and top researchers to Orange County requires a top-notch facility. “By aligning ourselves with outstanding community leaders such as George and Julia Argyros and Gavin Herbert, we can create a facility that will keep the institute’s researchers, professors, physicians and fellows in the vanguard of innovation, training and care,” said Mazzo, chair of the institute campaign committee.

Dr. Roger Steinert, founding director of The Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, said: “We’re committed to meeting the community’s needs and elevating the level of eye care in Orange County to the best anywhere, nationally or internationally.”

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff. Orange County’s largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4.2 billion. For more UCI news, visit www.today.uci.edu.

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