Two couples and one individual have been selected to receive UC Irvine’s most prestigious honor, the UCI Medal, which confers lifelong recognition on those who have made exceptional contributions to the university’s mission of teaching, research and public service.

The annual Medal was first awarded in 1984 to UCI founding Chancellor Daniel G. Aldrich Jr. It was the beginning of a tradition – started by then-Chancellor Jack W. Peltason. Honorees have included Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners, authors, inventors, captains of industry, scientists and pioneers in virtually every field of endeavor.

“UCI has become a top-tier university because of exceptional people,” said Chancellor Michael Drake. “The Medal ceremony is a wonderful way to pay tribute to individuals who have helped pave the way to a brighter future for UCI and its positive impact in our community. We are proud to bestow these awards in recognition of their many contributions.”

Recipients of the 2012 UCI Medal are:

Sue and Bill Gross

Sue and Bill Gross developed a keen interest in healthcare and stem cell advances at UCI after seeing Hans Keirstead, UCI professor of anatomy & neurobiology and one of the nation’s pioneers in human embryonic stem cell research, on “60 Minutes.” The television news magazine described Keirstead’s use of a treatment derived from human embryonic stem cells to improve mobility in laboratory animals with spinal cord injuries.

The couple toured Keirstead’s lab and later made a $10 million gift to UCI supporting construction of the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, which recently celebrated its two-year anniversary.

Bill Gross is co-founder of the Newport Beach-based international investment firm PIMCO. He is one of the world’s most prominent investors, managing nearly $2 trillion, including the largest mutual fund. The author of several books who has appeared globally on television, Gross has 42 years of investment experience and an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. He received his undergraduate degree from Duke University.

Sue Gross, a twin, was born in Phoenix, attended high school in Chula Vista and graduated from Saddleback College. She married Bill Gross in 1985, and between them, they have three children. She’s president of the Gross Family Foundation, the largest such entity in Orange County.

The couple live in Laguna Beach and are devoted yoga students. Known for their generous gifts to educational and healthcare institutions, the Grosses also fund the annual Orange County Teachers of the Year awards and are the largest donors in history to Doctors Without Borders.

Elizabeth Loftus

Elizabeth Loftus is renowned for her groundbreaking work on the malleability of human memory. A UCI Distinguished Professor, she holds faculty positions in the schools of Social Ecology, Social Sciences and Law.

Since earning a doctorate in psychology at Stanford University, Loftus has published 22 books (including the award-winning Eyewitness Testimony) and 500 scientific articles. Her 30 years of research have focused on the misinformation effect, eyewitness fallibility, and the creation and nature of false memories. Loftus has contributed her expertise to hundreds of high-profile criminal cases, including those of Martha Stewart, the Hillside Strangler, Oliver North, Scooter Libby and Michael Jackson.

Past president of the Association for Psychological Science, she has received six honorary doctorates and been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. In a list of the 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century, the journal Review of General Psychology placed Loftus at No. 58 – making her the top-ranked woman.

Betty Tu and David Tsoong

Betty Tu, M.D., and David Tsoong, M.D., have supported UCI for more than a decade. The married couple owns Pinnacle Resources International Inc., a holding company focused on international real estate and senior living.

Tu established a private obstetrics-gynecology practice in Anaheim and, until retiring in 2005, was a clinical professor at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. She served as chair and is a member of several committees at the American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists. Tu earned an MBA in 1999 at UCI’s Paul Merage School of Business and in 2007 was honored with its Lauds & Laurels Distinguished Alumni Award.

Tsoong was a surgical intern at UC Irvine Medical Center and, after orthopedic surgical training in New York, returned to Orange County for private practice. He’s a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons. Tsoong founded and managed Gateway Medical Group, StarCare Medical Group and Pinnacle Health Resources. A former member of UC Irvine Medical Center’s Executive Council, he was on the UC Irvine Foundation’s Board of Ambassadors and is currently a trustee serving on the foundation’s Nomination & Board Development Committee.

Tu and Tsoong are on The Paul Merage School of Business’ Center for Health Care Management & Policy Advisory Board, the Humanities Dean’s Advisory Council, UC Irvine Medical Center’s CEO Advisory Board and the UCI Medal Steering Committee.

The couple made a major gift to help build UC Irvine Douglas Hospital and were honorary co-chairs of “Healing Under the Stars – The 2012 UCI Health Gala.”

“A Celebration of Stars – The 2012 UCI Medal Awards” will take place Oct. 27 at the Bren Events Center and will feature a reception and formal dinner, honoree tributes and entertainment. Past recipients also will be highlighted.

For information on tickets or sponsorships, call 949-824-9801.

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 second-largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4 billion. For more UCI news, visit

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