The University of California, San Francisco has announced a $30 million gift from billionaire venture capitalist Michael Moritz and his wife, Harriet Heyman, to endow a fund for doctoral students in the basic sciences.
UCSF will match the grant with $25 million in institutional funds and raise an additional $5 million from at least five hundred donors. The largest endowed program for Ph.D. students in the history of the University of California system will fund programs in cell biology, biochemistry, neuroscience, and other basic science programs that are essential to solving medical mysteries and developing cures and treatments. "The basic Ph.D. science programs are under threat because of cutbacks in government funding," Moritz, the chairman of Sequoia Capital, told Forbes. "Without people stepping in to help, there is a real risk of programs getting cut back."
Large research universities typically cover the cost of tuition and living expenses for basic science Ph.D. students, but federal funding from the National Institutes of Health has remained flat since 2007, even as state education appropriations to UCSF fell 54 percent on a per-student basis between 2000 and 2010 and annual in-state tuition and fees for UC graduate programs climbed from $9,075 in 2006 to $15,700 in 2013. "Our gift is also intended to ensure that really talented young scientists don't have financial hurdles stand in their way," said Moritz.
"Many of these students work in the labs that are exploring new approaches to understanding cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more," said UCSF chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellman. "We are deeply grateful to Michael and Harriet for this gift."