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Ming Hsieh Donates $50M to Establish an Institute for Research on Engineering-Medicine for Cancer

Gift Brings Ming Hsieh's total donations to USC to $85 Million

October 20, 2010 —

At the October 15 inaugural ceremony for incoming USC President C. L. Max Nikias, USC trustee and alumnus Ming Hsieh took the podium immediately after the new President to announce a substantial gift.

Ming Hsieh: USC donations now total $85 million (photo by Jon Nalick)
"On this day of celebration," Hsieh said, "I announce my support of USC and the leadership of President Nikias with a gift of $50 million for the inception of an interdisciplinary research institute that will bring together the best engineers, scientists and physicians in the battle against cancer."

The new gift will establish the USC Ming Hsieh Institute for Research on Engineering Medicine for Cancer. "This institute will accelerate the pace of getting the new medicines from the lab to the cancer patients," Hsieh continued. "It will bridge the disciplines and bridge this campus and the USC Health Sciences campus."

"This kind of creative collaboration is our best hope for dealing with this devastating disease." said President Nikias. "On a personal level, I am deeply moved that Ming Hsieh chose to make this visionary gift commitment on the day of my inauguration.”

The gift was Hsieh's second multimillion dollar donation to USC. The China-born founder of Pasadena-based Cogent Inc, had previously donated $35 million to name the electrical engineering department in the Viterbi School of Engineering, a gift that Viterbi School Dean Yannis C. Yortsos called "a landmark in the history of the School."

"The new Institute," Yortsos continued, "is another testament to his vision. Working with our colleagues at the Keck School and elsewhere at USC, gifted engineering faculty and students working on nanotechnology will utilize their remarkable talent and expertise to attack cancer and hopefully lead to effective cures. With this transformative gift we are positioned to become world leaders in the field."

Keck School of Medicine of USC Dean Carmen A. Puliafito, M.D., M.B.A., noted that the donation will help Keck and other USC researchers in their quest to translate cancer discoveries into effective therapies for patients.

"The fight against cancer has gained a powerful ally in Ming Hsieh," said Puliafito. "This gift illustrates the critical synergy of healthcare and technology that has the potential to dramatically change the lives of cancer patients. We are grateful for his visionary gift."

The endowment will be used to support research and development, both at the bench and clinical scales, in the burgeoning field of nano-medicine for cancer. A fundamental component of research will be on nanoscale delivery platforms. Encapsulating nano-particles and other promising applications of nanotechnology will be pursued. New advances will also be sought in biomedical imaging that will help determine the delivery and targeting efficiencies of these treatments. In parallel, clinical research will be conducted to assess the efficacy of the resulting drug delivery with in vivo studies.

The Institute will bridge research from engineering and medicine. The recently launched program HTE@USC (Health, Technology and Engineering at USC) between the two schools has already laid a strong foundation for such collaborations and will be leveraged to augment educational and training opportunities for medical and doctoral students who participate in the Institute's research.

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.”

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. His 2006 gift to the Viterbi School to name its Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering was the largest ever to name an engineering department.