W.M. Keck Foundation gives USC $110 million

July 30, 1999

Largest Gift Ever Given to a Medical School

School to be Renamed in Honor of Gift and Expand Neurogenetic Research on Brain Function and Disease

Total Investment of $1.5 Billion in East Los Angeles Area Anticipated

The University of Southern California announced today that it has received a gift of $110 million from the W.M. Keck Foundation. This is the largest gift in history ever made to a medical school.

USC, which has committed to raising an additional $330 million in matching funds, will name its medical school the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California to recognize the generosity of the foundation. A large portion of the gift will be invested in neurogenetics, with a major focus on degenerative diseases of the brain.

USC President Steven B. Sample, observing that neurological and psychiatric illnesses currently afflict more than 50 million Americans and have a $600 billion per year impact on the economy, called the Keck gift "of inestimable importance to USC and the nation."

"The Keck Foundation has always been ahead of its time," Sample said. "For over four decades, the foundation has been a leader in funding bold scientific endeavors in medicine, engineering, higher education and of course, astronomy, with the W.M. Keck Observatory and its two magnificent telescopes that have deepened our understanding of the universe while firing our imaginations.

"Now the foundation has seized on the incredible opportunity to focus its resources and ours on improving the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases that afflict people of all ages, but particularly the elderly. This is a far-sighted ambition with potentially enormous benefits.

"This gift will enable us to enhance USC's entire health sciences program and the quality of health care throughout our community. We are pleased and proud that the foundation has recognized USC's growing strengths in the biomedical sciences and has chosen to invest here," Sample said.

"USC has established itself as one of the world's leading private research universities, a major intellectual contributor to Los Angeles and Southern California, a pioneer in the neurosciences, and an invaluable member of our community," said Robert A. Day, chairman and president of the W.M. Keck Foundation. "It is a great honor to be able to encourage and facilitate its continued growth and development with this grant.

"In particular, USC has proven itself a leader in the area of neurogenetic disorders. With its tremendous faculty, a focused, multidisciplinary approach and sufficient financial support, we believe USC and indeed the entire medical research community have an extraordinary opportunity to achieve major breakthroughs In the understanding and treatment of these painful, debilitating and economically crippling diseases through a new Neurogenetic Initiative."

Already, scores of USC scientists, clinicians, nurses, technicians and others are at work on the care, treatment and prevention of neurological diseases - at the Keck School of Medicine on USC's Health Sciences Campus, at the Andrus Gerontology Center and the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center on USC's University Park Campus; in the Geriatric Neurobehavior and Alzheimer Center at USC-affiliated Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center; and at other sites and clinics throughout Los Angeles County.

The gift and renaming of the School will be formally announced at a September 17 event on the Health Sciences Campus.

Economic Impact
Sample noted that the direct economic impact on the Southern California region and the East Los Angeles area would be substantial.

Sample said that this commitment from the Keck Foundation means that USC and its partners will be investing close to $1.5 billion dollars in medical research and health care facilities at and near the East Los Angeles USC Health Sciences Campus over the next few years.

In addition to the $440 million from Keck and other donors to USC, Tenet Healthcare is planning to invest $150 million in USC University Hospital, the County of Los Angeles will be spending $818 million on a replacement of the Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center, and developers will be investing $40 million in building the second phase of the USC Healthcare Consultation Center.

Board of Overseers
The renaming of the School is accompanied by the creation of a Board of Overseers to provide advice and counsel to the USC president and the Keck School dean on policies and operations, and to take the lead in raising the matching funds called for by the agreement with the W.M. Keck Foundation.

Sample announced that the founding chairs of the Board of Overseers will be Simon Ramo, a director of the W.M. Keck Foundation for 16 years, and his wife, Virginia Ramo, a trustee of long standing at the university.

A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, Simon Ramo is co-founder and the "R" of TRW Inc. He has received numerous other national awards including the National Medal of Science. He has served as advisor to many government, educational and scientific organizations, and is a founding member of the National Academy of Engineering and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

Virginia Ramo is a graduate of the University of Southern California from which she also was granted the Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. She was a co-founder of the Ramo Foundation whose philanthropy has included the Virginia Ramo Music Hall at USC, the Ramo Auditorium at Caltech and endowed chairs, awards and scholarship funds at several universities.

"Success in this exceptional task will require people of exceptional caliber," said Sample, "and that is why I am delighted and grateful that Si and Virginia have agreed to step into this role."

Founding members of the Board of Overseers will include Sample, Day, Malcolm Currie, chairman of the USC Board of Trustees, John Argue, chairman-elect of the USC Board of Trustees; and Stephen J. Ryan, M.D., dean of the Keck School of Medicine. Other founding members will be named at a later date.

Keck Family Gifts
The W.M. Keck Foundation is one of the nation's largest philanthropic organizations. Established in 1954 by the late William Myron Keck, founder of The Superior Oil Co., the foundation focuses its grantmaking primarily on medical research, science and engineering.

The Foundation also maintains a Southern California Grant Program that provides support in the areas of civic and community services with a special emphasis on children.

With this latest gift, grants and gifts since 1962 totalling more that $143 million from the W.M. Keck Foundation, from the estate of W.M. Keck and from trustee W.M. Keck have supported highly significant research and provided major facilities at USC, notably:

Five W.M. Keck chairs, one separately endowed in geological sciences, and four others administered by the Office of the USC Provost for the support of outstanding researchers.

A $3 million grant in 1991 to create an ambulatory care center at the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Gifts totaling $2.9 million in the years 1988-90 to establish a center for photonic technology in the School of Engineering.

A $5.6 million grant to the USC-based Southern California Earthquake Center in 1997, to establish a region-wide global positioning system monitoring network to observe movement in the earth's crust.

Other grants and gifts to USC entities, including radio station KUSC and the Marshall School of Business.

These gifts from the Keck family represent one of the two largest family investments in USC's history, second only to that of Ambassador Walter Annenberg and his family.

Neurogenetic Initiative
Keck School Dean Stephen J. Ryan said that some of the new Keck funds will increase the school's endowment and strengthen support for currently underfunded programs, particularly to provide educational support such as scholarships for medical students. The primary use of the Keck gift will be to support the school's Neurogenetic Initiative.

According to Ryan, the diseases that will be addressed by the Initiative include: Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and psychiatric diseases such as manic depression, schizophrenia and addiction disorders.

"The Initiative will bring together scores of USC scientists, physicians and physician-scientists to work on common problems," Ryan said. "The Initiative's goals include the construction of a new $40 million, 125,000-square-foot neurogenetic research facility on the USC Health Sciences Campus, and the recruitment of approximately 30 faculty scientists in the next five years."

This initiative will also draw heavily from the faculty and scientists in the Department of Neurological Surgery, lead by Martin Weiss, holder of the Martin H. Weiss Chair in Neurosurgery. Further, it will draw from the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry, now under the leadership of interim chair George Simpson. A permanent chair, to be named, will lead faculty engaged in neuroscience research.

According to Ryan, the Neurogenetic Initiative will focus its efforts on bringing together basic and clinical neuroscientists to concentrate on questions underlying a range of disorders that affect individuals ? from infants to senior citizens.

"USC has long embraced the concept of interdisciplinary research," Ryan explained. "The USC/Norris is a leader in 'translational medicine,' the process of bringing laboratory research closer and more quickly to the beds of patients; and our Institute of Genetic Medicine includes a wide array of scientific and medical disciplines, from molecular biology to pediatrics."

The director of the Neurogenetic Initiative is Brian E. Henderson, M.D., professor of preventive medicine, former director of the USC/Kenneth Norris Jr. Comprehensive Cancer Center and former president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

"The challenge that currently lies before scientists," Henderson said, "is to unravel the variables leading to neurological disorders and to obtain data on the malfunction of the expressed genes that cause disease. Using an interdisciplinary approach including molecular epidemiology, neurobiology and genetics, USC scientists will be able to understand how each variable contributes to disease progression and can help in delineating and identifying diagnostic and potential therapeutic alternatives.

"The Neurogenetic Initiative will draw faculty from both USC campuses and from many of its hospital partners," Henderson said. "We will be seeking solutions to health issues that have enormous economic implications for the future. The cost to treat neurodegenerative diseases is skyrocketing, and the future cost of facilities and professionals to care for patients severely afflicted by these diseases can't begin to be estimated."

Ryan said that to address the problem the school will, "draw on all our resources, on both our campuses, and use our considerable expertise in the management of multidisciplinary research to make a difference in the diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. The effort will be focused in the new Neurogenetic Institute at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. The Keck gift makes the effort possible."

On the USC Health Science Campus, the initiative will involve the Keck School of Medicine's departments of cell and neurobiology, neurology, neurosurgery, preventive medicine, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and ophthalmology, as well as USC's Institute of Genetic Medicine, the Doheny Eye Institute and USC's Gene Therapy Program.

On the University Park Campus, the initiative will involve researchers in USC's Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center, the interdisciplinary program in Neural, Informational and Behavioral Sciences, and in the College of Letters Arts and Sciences and School of Engineering.

Physicians and scientists at the USC-affiliated Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center will also be part of the new initiative.

Historic Gift
USC is now the first university in history to secure three gifts of $100 million or more.

The W.M. Keck Foundation's $110 million gift is the third donation of $100 million or more made to USC during its current campaign, following gifts of $120 million by Ambassador Walter H. Annenberg to establish the USC Annenberg Center for Communication; and $100 million from Alfred E. Mann to establish the Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering.

Figures tabulated by the Chronicle of Higher Education show that no other university has received three individual contributions of $100 million or more.

With the receipt of the Keck gift, the USC "Building on Excellence" campaign total now exceeds $1.4 billion toward a campaign goal of $1.5 billion. The campaign is scheduled to end December 31, 2000.
Editor's Note: Large gifts to other medical schools noted in the most recent (June 1999) tabulation of "Major Private Gifts and Grants to Higher Education Since 1967" by the Chronicle of Higher Education include $100 million to Cornell Medical College in 1998; $70 million to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in 1999; $60 million to Georgetown University Medical Center in 1997, and $60 million to Harvard University Medical School in 1994. In 1998, the University of California-San Francisco announced that a new foundation had been established with a $240 million endowment to support medical research at UCSF, but the gift was made to the new foundation - which will support other activities in addition to those at UCSF - not to the university itself.

Brenda Maceo 323-442-2830
email: maceo@hsc.usc.edu
Eric Mankin 213-740-9344
Email: mankin@usc.edu

University of Southern California

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