University receives $50 million donation


University President C.L. Max Nikias announced Monday morning the establishment of the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience, made possible by a $50 million grant from Dr. Gary Michelson.

Donor · Dr. Gary Michelson speaks to an audience of students and professionals at Town and Gown to announce his $50 million donation. - Photo courtesy of USC

Donor · Dr. Gary Michelson speaks to an audience of students and professionals at Town and Gown to announce his $50 million donation. – Photo courtesy of USC

Michelson, a retired orthopedic spinal surgeon, has a storied career that includes a place in the National Inventors Hall of Fame and over 955 issued or pending patents to date.

After retiring from private practice, Michelson became heavily involved in philanthropy. He has donated millions of dollars to medical research, worked with programs to provide free textbooks to students and invested in the creation of no-kill adoption facilities for animals that would otherwise end up in city animal shelters.

Dr. Michelson’s donation makes possible the construction of a 190,000-square-foot building in the southwest corner of campus, which is currently home to the majority of USC’s science and engineering buildings.

The USC Michelson Center’s labs and offices will be home to 20 to 30 principal investigators, and it will employ hundreds of researchers and students. According to USC News, the center is complete with  “state-of-the-art flexible labs, a Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis, a nanofabrication facility and a suite of microscopy imaging technology that can take precise measurements inside of cells.”

Faculty from both the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences will work together with interdisciplinary convergence at the USC Michelson Center.

The USC Michelson Center’s mission is based on applying the tremendous theoretical breakthroughs that have occurred in bioscience to the real world. By speeding up the process of diagnosing diseases to developing the latest technology in biomedical instruments, officials believe the USC Michelson Center will put USC at the forefront of biomedical research.

President Nikias spoke on the importance of the interdisciplinary research the USC Michelson Center is founded upon to the students and faculty that gathered for the announcement at Town and Gown.

“One of the most important parts of education is our dedication to interdisciplinary research,” he said. “At many other universities, ‘interdisciplinary’ is no more than a buzzword. USC turns colleges from diverse disciplines into creative collaboration.”

Steve Kay, dean of the Dornsife College, and Yannis Yortsos, dean of the Viterbi School, joined President Nikias and Michelson in offering remarks at the event.

“The Michelson Center will attract and cultivate a lab interested in not ‘what now,’ but ‘what next,’” Kay said. “The human capital this building will attract … even overachievers will struggle to keep up.”

Kay also emphasized the mission of the USC Michelson Center in bringing science out of the laboratory and into the real world, saying the building will be made of “bricks and mortar — no ivory, no towers.”

Yortsos spoke on the role the USC Michelson Center will play in cementing a new avenue of biological science research in Southern California.

“The Michelson Center will make USC the global attraction, the beating heart of this excitement,” he said. “It will propel USC students and engineers to make all problems solvable and develop the next big innovations for USC, Los Angeles, the nation and the world.”

Students offered optimism and excitement about the opportunity to pursue their academic goals in a world-class institution like the USC Michelson Center.

Sina Torabi, a pre-med sophomore majoring in economics and minoring in natural sciences, echoed the optimism of Dean Yortsos for the potential of the USC Michelson Center.

“Pre-med students are ecstatic for the Michelson Center, since it presents even more opportunities for us to contribute in academia,” he said. “It would be great to get some hands-on experience working under a renowned professor and test some innovative new technology that would benefit patients.”

Michelson thanked the USC community for agreeing to host the Center, and spoke to the importance of research that makes an impact on the world, not research for sake of research.

“The [Michelson Center] will converge research to produce real world breakthroughs in real time. This is going to be a grand adventure, and we thank you.”

Editor’s Note: The headline was updated from “Alumnus donates $50 million” to “University receives $50 million” to reflect that Dr. Gary Michelson is not an alumnus of the university. The Daily Trojan regrets the error.

  • Don

    Based on the article above and an article by the LA Times isn’t Dr. Michelson not an alumni?