UCI’s Marian Waterman, professor of microbiology & molecular genetics; John Lowengrub, Chancellor’s Professor of mathematics; and Arthur Lander, Donald Bren Professor of Developmental & Cell Biology, (from left) received a $10 million National Cancer Institute grant to establish the UCI Center for Cancer Systems Biology. Steve Zylius / UCI

Irvine, Calif., Sept. 13, 2018 — The University of California, Irvine raised about $500 million in philanthropic and research funding in 2017-18, notching big gains in federal and foundation support that add up to one of the strongest years in campus history.

UCI’s Office of Research received $362 million in grants and contracts, and University Advancement reported $160 million in philanthropic gifts and pledges last year. Over the past three years, the campus has garnered $1.1 billion for research and more than $610 million in private donations, record-high totals.

Increases were noted in a number of areas over 2016-17 amounts. Parent giving grew by 50 percent, funding from charitable foundations rose 38 percent, philanthropic support for student scholarships went up 33 percent, and federal research grants and contracts rose 15 percent.

These advances bring the campus closer to fulfilling the goals of its strategic plan, which established a bold road map for growth and innovation.

“Nearly three years ago, we charted an ambitious course to reach new heights of excellence and social impact,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman. “We are thrilled that our government and campus partners, alumni and friends recognize – and want to contribute to – our research and academic prowess. Their support expands our capacity to improve lives in our region and around the world.”

This year’s philanthropic support follows last year’s record gift from Susan and Henry Samueli, who gave UCI $200 million to support the health sciences. It is the largest gift in UCI history and one of the largest ever given to a U.S. public university.

“Generous supporters are making an impact on nearly every corner of campus and throughout UCI Health,” said Brian Hervey, vice chancellor for university advancement and alumni relations. “Philanthropic gifts continue to elevate UCI in significant ways in support of our mission of teaching, research and public service.”

On the research side, federal grants and contracts totaled $229 million, with National Institutes of Health funding up 18 percent, to $130 million, and Department of Defense awards rising 50 percent, to $21 million.

“Grant funding enables discovery, innovation and creative expression and, ultimately, saves lives, boosts economies, and leads to prosperous and thriving societies,” said Pramod Khargonekar, vice chancellor for research. “These wonderful increases in support will allow UCI’s world-class faculty and students to make a greater impact nationally and globally.”

Noteworthy grants and gifts include:

  • A $10 million National Cancer Institute grant will fund an effort by a geneticist, a mathematician, a systems biologist and others to develop improved treatments for colon cancer, melanoma and leukemia.
  • A $10 million award provided jointly by the National Science Foundation and the Simons Foundation will allow UCI mathematicians to study the fate of cells in bone, skin and muscle.
  • The effects of cannabis on adolescent brains will be investigated, thanks to a $9 million National Institute on Drug Abuse grant.
  • The National Science Foundation awarded $8 million to a consortium led by UCI to create a brain-computer interface permitting people with spinal cord injuries to walk again.
  • An exquisite, long-hidden collection of California art, valued in the tens of millions of dollars, was given to UCI through the trust of Newport Beach developer Gerald Buck. Along with a gift from The Irvine Museum, it will form the linchpin of the UCI Institute and Museum of Contemporary Art, for which funds are being actively raised.
  • UCI MIND received its largest gift ever, about $4 million, to establish the Grace C. Steele endowment to advance promising Alzheimer’s disease research.
  • The second annual online, social media-driven UCI Giving Day in April raised over $4 million – more than double the prior year’s $1.4 million. The campus garnered a record 2,600 gifts from donors in 40 states and eight countries.
  • UCI faculty gave generously: The School of Social Ecology received $1 million from the estate of founding faculty member Carol Kupers Whalen. And James Given, professor emeritus of history, and his wife, Ruth, created a $500,000 endowment for the department. Both will support student and faculty studies.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

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