Campus of USC. Photo by John Schreiber.
Campus of USC. Photo by John Schreiber.

USC Trustee Marc Benioff and his wife, Lynne, have given the university $20 million toward construction of a cancer research center in West Los Angeles, it was announced Thursday.

The Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC “will combine interdisciplinary research with the holistic prevention and treatment of cancer,” according to the university.

In recognition of the Bay Area couple’s gift, the lobby of the Ellison Institute will be named in honor of Marc Benioff’s father, Russell, who died of prostate cancer in 2012.

A pioneer of cloud computing and chairman and CEO of the Fortune 500 company Salesforce, Benioff has served as a member of the USC Board of Trustees since 2010 and earned a business administration degree from the USC Marshall School of Business.

Prior to launching Salesforce, Benioff spent 13 years at Oracle Corp., which was founded by Larry Ellison, the Ellison Institute’s primary benefactor.

“Marc and Lynne Benioff stand among our nation’s most visionary philanthropists, and their extraordinary gift invests in USC’s commitment to new technologies and research that fight cancer,” USC President C. L. Max Nikias said.

“Their gift also ensures that our university will remain at the fore of this field, and continue to bring hope and resolve to the fight,” Nikias said. “We should all applaud the Benioffs’ dedication to our collective fight against cancer.”   The Ellison Institute will house interdisciplinary cancer research laboratories that will harness proteomics, molecular biology, genetics and nanotechnology to seek new ways of ending the disease.

The institute will also encompass patient care clinics, a think tank, education and outreach, and a wellness program.

David B. Agus, a professor at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and USC Viterbi School of Engineering, will lead the institute, which will draw collaborators from many disciplines to study cancer and potential ways to prevent, detect and treat the disease.

The institute will complement and integrate cancer research being conducted by faculty physicians and scientists across the university.

“Cancer has deeply impacted our family, and too many other families around the world,” Benioff said. “We truly believe that by empowering and funding institutions doing important cancer research we will be able to change the course of this disease.”

–City News Service 

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