UCLA Receives $50 Million for Life Sciences

The University of California, Los Angeles has announced a $50 million gift from alumnus Paul I. Terasaki to the Division of Life Sciences in the UCLA College of Letters and Science.

In recognition of the largest gift ever to the College of Letters and Sciences, the new life sciences building will be named in honor of Terasaki, a UCLA professor emeritus of surgery who developed the test that became the standard method for tissue typing, a procedure that assesses the compatibility of organ donors and recipients. The facility, which is scheduled to open in October, will house thirty-three laboratories where hundreds of scientists will conduct research integrating fields such as cell biology, neuroscience, genomics, and stem cell research.

While the majority of the gift will support construction of the new building, $2 million will be used to endow the Paul I. Terasaki Chair in Surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Just as each person has a blood type, each person has a tissue type, although there are more than a thousand different types of the latter. For the past forty years, all kidney, heart, liver, pancreas, lung, and bone marrow donors and recipients have been typed using the test Terasaki developed. Before the establishment of federal registries, the UCLA Kidney Transplant Registry, which he established in the 1970s, was the largest in the world.

"This building is designed to enhance interactions among scientists with different tools, approaches and ways of thinking," said dean of life sciences Victoria Sork. "Increasingly, scientists across disciplines are sharing in empirical and computation approaches that benefit from exchange. The new life sciences provide the foundations for understanding biomedical innovations, applied human health problems and biodiversity challenges facing our planet, and this research will lead to improvements in how we live. The translation of this deep research across all areas into applications is becoming increasingly common, and interdisciplinary collaboration of the kind we will see in this new building is key."