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Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation Gives $4 million to UC Global Health Institute

The Los Angeles-based group was founded by world-renowned surgeon, inventor and philanthropist Patrick Soon-Shiong, M.D., and his wife, Michele Chan.

The Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation has given $4 million to the University of California Global Health Institute (UCGHI) to support new cross-campus and interdisciplinary education and research programs that aim to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable people and communities throughout California and across the globe.

"We look at this not merely as a donation for today, but a partnership for tomorrow," said Dr. Soon-Shiong. "The UCGHI has a distinguished legacy of working to cure the ill and enhance the well-being of those in need the world over. To support the talented and dedicated individuals who enable the institute to do so - from the classroom to the lab - is a true honor."

This gift, the first installment of which was given in 2011 anonymously at Chan and Soon-Shiong's request, will be used to fund research fellowships and scholarships to UC faculty, postdocs, graduate and professional students, as well as support unique multi-campus, interdisciplinary research programs.

At the core of the UCGHI mission is a commitment to expanding educational opportunities that would not be possible without multiple campuses and disciplines banding together. This gift is funding the initial strategic planning for a multi-campus master's degree program in global health - the first of its kind. At present, a proposal for the two-year degree program is under campus review.

In addition, this gift will enable the UCGHI to launch new initiatives, such as a 10-campus lecture series that will use technology to connect people across the UC system, and a "global health incubator" to generate the innovative ideas that can solve the world's pressing global health problems.

A faculty member at UCLA, Soon-Shiong also is a celebrated innovator and inventor, having pioneered groundbreaking treatments in diabetes and cancer. He developed the nation's first biological chemotherapy nanoparticle (Abraxane), which is now approved for the treatment of breast cancer and lung cancer. Abraxane has succeeded in Phase 3 trials in pancreatic cancer and melanoma. Soon-Shiong also created, cultivated and later sold two multi-billion dollar companies, American Pharmaceutical Partners and Abraxis Bioscience. He is a co-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and ranked by Forbes as the wealthiest American in the healthcare industry and in Los Angeles. Soon-Shiong and Chan, who is a television and film actress, were both born and raised in South Africa.

Soon-Shiong received surgical and research training at the University of British Columbia and UCLA under the mentorship of Haile Debas, director of the UCGHI and chancellor emeritus of UC San Francisco.

"As an African, and as a former academic surgeon and researcher, Patrick is keenly aware of the value and promise of different disciplines coming together to improve health for the underserved," says Debas, who also was dean of the School of Medicine and executive director of Global Health Sciences at UCSF. "With this gift, he has challenged the UC campuses to think outside the box and to create new opportunities for students and faculty to implement innovative, practical initiatives that will improve the health of the underserved here in the United States and in developing countries."

Based on the UCSF campus, the UCGHI is co-directed by UCLA's Thomas J. Coates, the Michael and Sue Steinberg Endowed Professor of Global AIDS Research and the founding director of the Center for World Health at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine. The institute also has a presence on most of the UC campuses through its three multi-campus Centers of Expertise (COE) - Migration & Health; One Health: Animals, Water, Food & Society; and Women's Health & Empowerment - that break out of traditional academic structures to create new, interdisciplinary ways of solving health problems.

The centers have shared global health curricula via videoconferencing and online courses, and their faculty have contributed to UCSF's one-year master's degree program in global health sciences.

"Students are demanding a global education, and one mission of the UCGHI is to prepare the next generation of global health leaders," says Coates. "We are providing students with real-world experiences and skills, essential for their success in working with partners around the world to provide real solutions to the ever-changing landscape of global health problems."

The UCGHI also supports students and trainees with fellowship and scholarship programs, including the GloCal Health Fellowship, which is funded with $4 million over five years from the NIH's Fogarty International Center. It will support 50 to 60 fellows from across the UC system. In all, the UCGHI is making available $7 million to UC students, faculty and postdocs through 2017 to pursue global health research and service. Much of this funding would not have been possible without the leveraging power of the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation gift.

In addition to providing funding to students and trainees, the UCGHI hosts the annual UC Global Health Day, which brings together faculty, students and staff to highlight the research taking place across the University of California and to provide a forum for sharing and networking (see video about the 2013 UC Global Health Day, which was held at UC Riverside). Through oral presentations and posters, faculty and students learn about fieldwork their peers are doing around the world and cutting-edge research being conducted on the campuses.

The UCGHI initially was launched in 2009 with a $4 million planning grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It also receives funding from the UC Office of the President.

"With 10 campuses combining their scientific and educational expertise, and galvanizing resources around a common goal, great things can be achieved," said UC President Janet Napolitano. "The UC Global Health Institute is a terrific example of UC's potential to improve the lives of people in California and around the world."