University of Southern California President C. L. Max Nikias announced the university had made a bold advance in cancer research thanks to a transformational gift of $50 million from USC trustee and alumnus Ming Hsieh. The funds will create a permanent endowment to support research and development in the burgeoning field of nano-medicine for cancer. The university will create the USC Ming Hsieh Institute for Research on Engineering-Medicine for Cancer in recognition of his generous support and years of service to the university.
"With this extraordinary gift, Ming Hsieh joins USC as a partner in the fight against cancer," said USC President C. L. Max Nikias, "and we are extremely grateful and touched by his generosity. What is exciting about the USC Ming Hsieh Institute is that it bridges our two campuses. This kind of creative collaboration is our best hope for dealing with this devastating disease. On a personal level, I am deeply moved that Ming Hsieh chose to make this visionary gift commitment on the day of my inauguration."
In 2006, Ming Hsieh donated $35 million to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering to endow the USC Department of Electrical Engineering, which was named in his honor.
"In the past five years, Ming Hsieh has donated $85 million to USC's endowment to advance two strategic initiatives. He is not only a generous philanthropist, but a visionary one, investing in USC programs that he believes will have long-term benefit not only to USC, but to mankind," President Nikias said.
In his inauguration address to more than 10,000 members of the USC community, Nikias highlighted USC's strengths as an entrepreneurial, innovative and collaborative environment. He noted that the great challenges of our time do not always fit within the boundaries of academic departments, but often call for several disciplines or schools to work together. He said this would be especially true for addressing the most complex global health challenges of the 21st century, and outlined the important role USC's academic medical center will play in USC's future.
Nanotechnology is creating a new frontier in cancer research. The USC Ming Hsieh Institute will fuel and expand the groundbreaking basic and translational research taking place across many academic disciplines on the USC University Park and USC Health Science campuses. The objective is to get the best minds from many fields working together to create breakthrough solutions and get them to the cancer patients as quickly as possible.
"Recent advances in nano-medicine are creating an exciting new era for cancer research," said Ming Hsieh. "Bridging the gap between the laboratory and patient care is the challenge today. USC has world class engineers, scientists and physicians who know how to work together to make real progress. It's my hope that their efforts will lead to better survival rates, longer remissions, new treatments, and cures for this horrible disease that leaves an indelible mark on so many."
He added, "I know that the strengths of the Viterbi School of Engineering in nanotechnology, combined with the outstanding faculty in the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and the Keck School of Medicine of USC, will be able to achieve remarkable results."
The USC Ming Hsieh Institute will conduct research on nano-scale delivery platforms for drugs and therapeutics targeting cancerous cells and tumors. Researchers will work on encapsulating nano-particles and other promising applications of nanotechnology. They will also seek to create advances in biomedical imaging to help determine the delivery and targeting efficiencies of these treatments and therapies. At the same time, clinical research will be conducted to assess the effectiveness of the resulting drug delivery on actual cancer patients. The goal is to take what is learned in the laboratory and apply it at the bedside, and also to take what is learned at the bedside to inspire further study in the laboratory.
USC is home to the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, a major resource for cancer research, treatment, prevention and education, and one of the first comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 1973. Nearly 200 scientists and physicians who are members of the center investigate the complex origins and progression of cancer, develop prevention strategies, and search for cures. The USC Ming Hsieh Institute will work in close coordination with the center to bring new nano-medical treatments and technologies from the laboratory to the patients that need them the most.
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 1.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in 2010. About 570,000 people are expected to die --more than 1,500 people each day. Cancer will account for nearly one of every four deaths in the U.S. Yet statistics cannot truly grasp cancer's devastating human cost, as the disease puts a burden on families and loved ones and has an emotional impact that lasts for years.
"Ming Hsieh is an exemplary trustee and alumnus," said Edward P. Roski, Jr., chairman of the USC Board of Trustees. "His generous gifts continue to advance the university and improve the lives of people in our community, nation and world. All of us in the Trojan Family are very proud of him. He is the embodiment of the American dream, and a role model for domestic and international students alike."
Ming Hsieh was born and raised in northern China and worked his way to USC, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1983 and a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1984. In 1987, he founded AMAX Technology and in 1990 founded the Pasadena-based Cogent Inc., which revolutionized automated fingerprint identification. In 2006, he donated $35 million to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering to endow the USC Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering. At the time, it was the largest gift ever for an engineering department.