Funding young scientists key to future therapies: investor creates endowment to support UCSF graduate students

It’s nice to see our sentiments expressed by someone as influential as Michael Moritz, a venture capital investor who previously supported successes like Google and PayPal. Like us, he thinks it’s important to fund future scientists as well as the research itself.

University of California, San Francisco just announced a $30 million gift from Moriz and his wife Harriet Heyman to support PhD students in basic sciences at UCSF. Their announcement quoted UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann.

“With the freedom to work in multiple labs and across disciplines, they make discoveries at the intersections of research, fostering collaborations as unlikely as they are productive,” she said. “Many of these students work in the labs that are exploring new approaches to understanding cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and more. Their novel perspectives and unbridled curiosity give rise to powerful questions that can alter a lab’s entire course of research. We are deeply grateful to Michael and Harriet for this gift.”

Ron Leuty of the San Francisco Business Times interviewed Moritz about the gift. Leuty asked Moritz whether the gift will also help the primary investigators running the labs:

The problems have been much more acute in recent years. The pinch has already been felt. The cutbacks have been made. The admission rates of students have been cut back. This will restore things, at least with Ph.D.s, to where they were so studies can go on unabated. And, hopefully, the medical and scientific breakthroughs at UCSF will continue.

Our first round of funding back in 2006 supported graduate training programs in stem cell research at institutions throughout California. Since then, we’ve funded another round of graduate training programs, a training program for undergraduate and masters students and another for high school students.

These students are the future of stem cell research. They will be the lab technicians in companies developing stem cell therapies and they will become the primary researchers, developing the next generation of stem cell therapies. Given all that, we think it’s important to be supporting the best and brightest young scientists.

Amy Adams

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