A $5 million gift from the Alfred E. Mann Family Foundation will help ensure that promising UCLA research on new treatments for diseases and innovative biomedical devices can advance from the lab to clinical settings.
The gift will establish the Alfred E. Mann Family Foundation Research Acceleration Fund at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA and the Alfred E. Mann Family Foundation Technology Development Fund at the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA. Both funds will facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration among UCLA scientists.
“The research supported by this gift will yield new insights into human biology and bring lifesaving treatments to patients with serious illnesses,” said Michael Dreyer, president of the Alfred E. Mann Family Foundation. “We are proud to partner with both the Broad Stem Cell Research Center and CNSI at UCLA to foster new discoveries.”
In part, the gift will advance the Broad Stem Cell Research Center’s mission of revolutionizing the treatment of disease through personalized cellular therapies and regenerative medicine. The research acceleration fund will provide support for studies to bridge the so-called “valley of death,” a term scientists use to describe the precarious phase when research innovations are between later-stage lab studies and their clinical applications; often, promising therapies are abandoned during that critical transition because of a lack of financial resources.
“We are deeply grateful to the Alfred E. Mann Family Foundation for their investment that will expedite our efforts to progress more lab research across the gap to first-in-human clinical trials,” said Dr. Thomas Rando, the director of the Broad Stem Cell Research Center.
The portion of the gift being directed to CNSI will fund the development of scientific research related to producing significant discoveries and new technologies in its focus area of health. Resources will also be invested in research geared toward accelerating the development of biomedical devices and therapeutics that address health care’s greatest challenges.
“Philanthropic support for novel ideas is the life force of any successful research enterprise,” said Jeff F. Miller, UCLA’s Fred Kavli Professor of NanoSystems Sciences and the director of CNSI. “The Alfred E. Mann Family Foundation’s generous philanthropy will enable CNSI faculty and trainees to design and fabricate custom tools that will facilitate meaningful discoveries.”
In recognition of the gift, a portion of the third floor of the Terasaki Life Sciences Building, home to the Broad Stem Cell Research Center, will be named the Alfred E. Mann Family Foundation Foyer, and the auditorium on the first floor of the CNSI Building will be renamed the Alfred E. Mann Family Foundation Auditorium.
Alfred Mann, who lived from 1925 to 2016, earned a bachelor’s degree at UCLA and became a physicist, inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Mann founded and helped fund 17 companies, many of which worked with scientific and research organizations aiming to develop treatments for diabetes, metabolic disease and cancer, blindness and other diseases and conditions.
In 2010, Mann established the Alfred E. Mann Family Foundation so that his philanthropy, focused on improving and extending lives, could continue after his death. He was also a member of the National Academy of Engineering and chair of the Southern California Biomedical Council, and he received numerous honors from the private and public sectors.