Irvine Co. Head Gives $10-Million Grant to Caltech

The Donald Bren Foundation of Newport Beach has awarded the California Institute of Technology $10 million to establish named professorships in biology and related disciplines.

The grant was part of Caltech’s Biological Sciences Initiative, which aims to provide resources and researchers to explore the biological sciences.

More than $80 million has been raised during the three-year fund-raising effort, which was announced in May 1998.


“Caltech’s focus on biological sciences will open a new area for its scholarly inquiry and research that promises endless possibilities to profoundly touch and improve our lives,” said Bren, chairman of the Irvine Co. “It pleases me to be able to encourage this initiative and the distinguished scholars who will carry it out.”

A named professorship is the highest honor a university can confer on a faculty, a Caltech spokeswoman said. It is a tool to reward achievements and to recruit senior faculty. Five senior faculty members will be named new Bren Professors, joining Peter Dervan, who holds the first Bren Professorship that was established at Caltech in 1988.

Initially, a portion of the $10-million grant will be used to establish the Bren Scholars Program, which will support new faculty members.

Caltech President David Baltimore said the grant will help Caltech reach its goals.

“I think Don has focused his giving on the most important aspect of Caltech, which is the quality of our faculty,” Baltimore said. “Bringing the very best people here is the heart of Caltech’s mission.”

The Bren Foundation is a private philanthropic organization chartered by the developer.

Founded in 1891, Caltech has an enrollment of about 2,000 students and an academic staff of about 280 professors and research faculty.