SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Foundation announced Tuesday a $25 million donation to UC San Diego to help establish a school of public health.
UCSD plans to match the gift and hopes to raise another $50 million to construct a school of public health building pending approval by the University of California. The gift from the Wertheim Foundation is dependent on whether UC's leadership approves UCSD's request.
"Public health is a field of study and practice that endows individuals and communities with the ability to promote health and prevent disease," said UCSD Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. "As a nation, we face unprecedented health challenges. Our university, committed to the greater good, is leading the charge toward understanding, preventing and eradicating threats to public health locally and globally. This philanthropic investment from the Wertheim family will help transform public health as we know it."
UCSD currently offers a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in public health, as well as a joint public health doctoral program with San Diego State University. UCSD also opened an Institute for Public Health in 2014, and school officials believe the current public health infrastructure makes UCSD a persuasive candidate for a school of public health.
"As UC San Diego builds our vision for a healthier world, we are committed to leveraging all of our resources -- across campus, across disciplines and across institutions -- to fully address the complex dynamics that affect public health," said David Brenner, vice chancellor for UCSD Health Sciences.
Scientist, clinician, entrepreneur and philanthropist Herbert Wertheim, inventor of eyeglass tints that block ultraviolet light, said he and his wife Nicole made the donation for their 48th wedding anniversary.
"The most important thing we can achieve is making our communities healthier across the lifespan, and thus more productive," he said. "Prevention is, and always will be, the best medicine."
The Miami-based founder and CEO of Brain Power Inc., which manufactures ophthalmic instruments and chemicals, said Brenner "has been a friend for five years, and we've talked about this initiative. ... We are excited for the opportunity and our partnership with UC San Diego to support public health at UC San Diego."
The fundraising is part of UCSD's Campaign for UC San Diego, a $2 billion effort to improve student experiences, campus facilities and research opportunities. The school has raised $1.6 billion since it launched the campaign in 2012.