Los Angeles Business Journal

Soon-Shiong Endows Engineering Chair at USC

By Deborah Crowe Friday, September 30, 2011

Patrick Soon-Shiong’s family foundation has endowed a professor chair at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, which will support research “at the intersection of engineering and medicine” that may involve computer science, mobile vision or robotics.

The Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation, founded by the billionaire biotech entrepreneur and his wife, Michele B. Chan, made the multi-million dollar gift. It will help further the work of such USC programs as the school’s Brain-Body Dynamics Lab, which is trying to reverse engineer brain control of the hand for artificial limbs, and the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Systems, which is working on designs to help the visually impaired.

The foundation and University of Southern California did not disclose the exact amount of the gift for the Chan Soon-Shiong Chair.

Soon-Shiong, who made his fortune building and then selling two multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical companies, said his work on diabetes and cancer “took me to the world of engineering." Soon-Shiong has topped the Business Journal’s list of Wealthiest Angelenos for the last three years, with an estimated net worth of $7.8 billion last May.

"I believe strongly that engineering can help address many of today's healthcare challenges,” he said in a statement. “I applaud the Viterbi School and USC for their vision and I am delighted to be a part of it."

Soon-Shiong’s gift follows the bioengineering incubator created at Viterbi by billionaire medical device entrepreneur Alfred Mann to help professors commercialize their research. USC also created the Ming Hsieh Institute for Engineering Medicine for Cancer after a $35 million gift in 2006 from alumni Ming Hsieh, founder of Pasadena tech company Cogent Inc.

USC President Max Nikias recently launched a campaign to raise $6 billion for the university in seven years.