Mark and Mary Stevens of Atherton have given the University of Southern California $50 million to endow and name the USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, the university announced today.
The couple's donation "promises to improve the lives of millions of people worldwide" by speeding the "translation of basic research into new therapies, preventions and cures for brain injury and disease, including Alzheimer's, schizophrenia and traumatic brain injury," the university said in its announcement.
The neuroimaging institute works with scientists around the world to further understanding of the brain's structure and function in health and disease. The institute's interdisciplinary teams were among the first to map the spread of Alzheimer's disease in the living human brain and to create digital 3- and 4-D brain imaging that examine the effects of neurological diseases, according to the announcement.
The institute, and its neuroimaging laboratory, has been at USC since 2013, but it is more than 30 years old. The announcement says it has the world's largest repository of healthy and diseased brain images, along with medical and cognitive data from diverse populations around the globe.
The institute works closely with the USC's engineering school as well as faculty in biology, genetics, biostatistics, computer science, mathematics, pharmacology and other disciplines.
USC President C. L. Max Nikias said the gift enhances the Stevens' "already spectacular philanthropic legacy."
Mark and Mary Stevens have also funded the USC Stevens Center for Innovation and the Stevens Academic Center for student-athletes, putting them among the largest benefactors in USC's 135-year history, according to the university's announcement. "Their gifts have made a lasting impact in areas ranging from student scholarship and athletics to engineering and innovation, and now to medicine and the life sciences," it said.
Mr. Stevens has been on the USC Board of Trustees since 2001. He co-chairs the board's investment committee, serves on the executive and finance committees, and serves on the boards of the USC Health System and the school of engineering.
Mr. Stevens has worked as a venture capitalist for Sequoia Capital and S-Cubed. He grew up near USC in Culver City. He has bachelor's degrees in economics and electrical engineering and a master's degree in computer engineering from USC, and an MBA from Harvard University.
Mr. Stevens said he hopes the gift "will serve to further the university's leadership position in the medical sciences in the coming decades."
Ms. Stevens said she hopes the donation "will enable researchers and clinicians at USC and throughout the world to expand the understanding of the human brain to enable new ways to treat, prevent and cure brain disorders such as Alzheimer's, autism, traumatic brain injury and childhood-learning challenges."
The Stevenses have three children.