Professors and assistants conducting research on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia at the University of California, Irvine are now eligible for new research funding opportunities, through the just-created UCI MIND Joan and Don Beall Scholar Award.
The $50,000 award will support an early-career researcher leading a program that will help UCI’s Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (MIND) discover solutions to memory-impacted diseases.
Philanthropists Joan and Don Beall created the award after increasing their yearly donations to the institute from around $30,000 to $100,000. The funding will take place over a five-year period.
The Beall family has been frequent contributors to UCI, and as of 2019 was reported to have given nearly $30 million to the school.
One of their largest contributions led to the school’s new and expanded entrepreneurial center being renamed the UCI Beall Applied Innovation.
The innovation center, at UCI Research Park, includes 17,000 square feet of specialized lab facilities and equipment, “enabling UCI faculty and students and local inventors to nurture emerging technologies and companies,” according to the university.
High School Reach
“I can’t thank the Bealls enough for the trust and support they’ve placed in us,” UCI MIND Director Joshua Grill told the Business Journal. “We’re so grateful that many people around Orange County provide philanthropic support—it’s not only key to our educational endeavors but our research mission as well. Philanthropic support of research truly accelerates the rate of discovery.”
UCI MIND, founded in 1995, conducts research on cognitive impairments, performs clinical trials on promising medicines and treatments and trains clinicians in scientists in brain aging and neurodegeneration.
It is one of 30 Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), a branch of the National Institutes of Health, and the only one in Orange County.
The Beall’s increased funding to UCI MIND will also support the institute’s educational outreach program geared toward Orange County high school students.
The program, the UCI MIND Beall Scholar Program to Inspire Future STEM Leaders, enrolls high-achieving high school students in a week-long workshop organized by UCI MIND faculty.
The program involves “some of the most diverse schools in the county” and aims to inspire students from diverse backgrounds to choose a career in science.
Since the scholar program’s launch in 2021, over 90% of the 32 participants hailed from an underserved group, while 41% were the first in their family to attend college. Additionally, most participants were female, according to UCI officials. “Donations like this really let us try these creative, novel and important programs,” Grill said.
Don Beall retired from Rockwell International in 1998 after a 30-year career. He served as either chairman, CEO, president or chief operating officer for 20 of those years. Both he and Joan Beall have served on a number of UCI advisory boards and executive committees.
Kenneth Beall, Don’s son, is a real estate entrepreneur who also has been heavily involved with UCI Applied Innovation. In 2018, he was appointed chairman of the university’s entrepreneurial hub, succeeding Don Beall.
$103M to UCI
The Beall family’s latest gift adds to a lengthy list of donations to UCI over the past year and a half.
In the school’s fiscal 2021-22, which ended June 30, UCI received the second-most research funding in campus history: $580 million in grants and contracts, the university reported in August.
The school’s healthcare division, UCI Health, received $103.4 million in 2022 gifts, a record amount, according to university officials.