The donation gives the family naming rights to the cancer center that is expected to open in late 2023, joining an advanced care center and hospital at the $1.2 billion-planned complex.
The Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and Ambulatory Care marks the largest single gift to UCI Health from the family, and brings their total contributions to the university to over $50 million since 1995.
“Few families have been as generous in support of their fellow residents of Orange County as the Chao family,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman.
“This latest extraordinary gift is testament to their belief in the power of academic medicine to lead the fight against cancer and to provide the best and most up-to-date care to cancer patients.”
The Chao family—Allen Chao, Agnes Kung, Phylis Hsia, Richard Chao and their spouses—has a history of supporting cancer programs at UCI that spans three decades.
“Doing good in our community has always been very important to our family,” Allen Chao said. “We are proud to continue our partnership with UCI and to know that community members from all walks of life benefit from the lifesaving treatments offered here.”
Allen Chao, a former cancer patient at UCI, and his brother-in-law David Hsia founded Corona-based Watson Pharmaceuticals in the 1980s and grew it to a value of $3 billion by the time of their retirement in 2008. The company went on to acquire Actavis Group, and changed its name to the acquired company; Actavis would later buy Irvine’s Allergan.
The family provided $2.4 million in 1995 for clinical trials and treatments at UCI’s Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center in Orange—one of 51 national cancer institute (NCI)-designated centers of excellence.
Additional gifts have included $8.1 million for a genetic cancer research center and $5 million to establish endowed chairs for two leukemia researchers.
The recent gift “extends the opportunity for cancer patients to receive lifesaving therapies and enables the world’s top cancer clinician-scientists to advance cancer treatment through personalized healthcare,” said Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Steve Goldstein.
He noted that type of care “is only possible at an academic health center committed to developing and applying advanced AI and machine learning applications to clinical practice.”
The gift will expand cancer prevention and screening, building on momentum that UCI has witnessed over the last five years as clinical trial enrollment increased over 260% and cancer patient visits exceeded 400,000.
The $20 million donation is among the largest charitable gifts recorded in the area in 2021.
The largest, a $50 million donation announced earlier this year from Miami-based homebuilder Lennar Corp. to the City of Hope, will also support access to world-class cancer care in the region.
The donation is for the Duarte-based health system’s comprehensive cancer center in Irvine, which is expected to open in 2022 and is part of a previously announced $1 billion investment in the region undertaken by City of Hope in conjunction with real estate developer FivePoint Holdings LLC (NYSE: FPH), which counts close ties to Lennar.
Both Jon Jaffe, co-chief executive and previously the top local official of Lennar (NYSE: LEN), and Allen Chao said they hope news of the gifts will encourage others to pitch in.
“We encourage others to do good in their community in whatever way they can,” Chao said. “Philanthropy can take many forms and is not limited to financial support.”