Lokey's gift will help give rise to a 200,000-square-foot facility that will be known as the Lorry I. Lokey Stem Cell Research Building. The modern, four-story building along Campus Drive will house 350 scientists working together to capture the power of these cells in treating diseases as diverse as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. The school plans to break ground on the new laboratories at ceremonies on Oct. 27 and complete the building by the summer of 2010.
"Stem cells are going to be as significant as the silicon chip that created Silicon Valley," said Lokey, who made an initial commitment to the new building in February 2007. "Stem cells are going to introduce an entirely new field of medicine for extending lives and improving the quality of life."
His gift is the largest to the medical school from a private individual and one of the largest capital gifts to Stanford University.
His contribution will help build a new home for the Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Institute, one of five major research institutes based in the medical school. Institute scientists are involved in the full array of stem cell research, including studies in both embryonic and adult cells, as well as work in cancer stem cells and in the development of disease-specific stem cell lines.
"Without question Lorry Lokey is one of the most remarkable people I have met in my life," said medical school Dean Philip Pizzo, MD. "He is deeply committed to institutions and causes that will transform the world - by educating students or by promoting science and medicine.
"Over the years he has conveyed his deep interest in stem cell biology and his belief that this area of research will impact science and ultimately improve the human condition," Pizzo added. "Thanks to his generosity, we will have the opportunity to move his vision and dream closer to reality - and to do so with deep gratitude and respect for him."
With the stem cell gift, Lokey will have committed more than half a billion dollars of his personal fortune to philanthropic ventures, much of it for education and science. He previously contributed $20 million to Stanford for the Lorry I. Lokey Laboratory Building, which houses research labs for the departments of Chemistry and Biological Sciences. Lokey said he was motivated to support stem cell research after the Bush administration set severe restrictions on federal funding in this promising new field in 2001.
A native of Oregon, Lokey graduated from Stanford in 1949 with a degree in journalism and got his start in the reporting field as editor of the Stanford Daily. He founded Business Wire, the international public relations wire service, in 1961 with $2,000 of his own money. In four months, it was already turning a profit. Today, the San Francisco-based company annually distributes hundreds of thousands of news releases around the globe, and it bills more than $130 million a year.
Lokey sold Business Wire to Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett's conglomerate, in 2006, when the wire service was valued at $500 million. He officially retired from the company this year.
Lokey, 81, said he learned the value of money as a child growing up in the Depression. He's devoted much of his time in recent years to philanthropy, donating the bulk of his money to educational institutions. "I looked back and said to myself, what is it that has created all this wealth? I realized it's education," said Lokey, a resident of Atherton, Calif.
He is also bullish on biotech, believing that it represents the next revolution in technological innovation. He views stem cells as being at the heart of the biotech field.
"At 81 - I expect to go well past 90 - I might see the benefits (of stem cell research). There's a chance," he said. "But the real application will be for the 38-year-old person who survives a heart attack and has heart damage. Stem cells may be able to repair the damage. To me, that's worth the money I put in."
The total estimated cost of the building is $200 million, $43.6 million of which is being provided by a grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state stem cell agency. The balance will be financed with other private contributions and university resources.
The building will house scientists and clinicians in 33 laboratories and from multiple disciplines. They will work side by side in the research center, which has an open, innovative design to encourage collaboration. The ultimate goal of the work is to make discoveries that can be turned into therapies to improve and extend the lives of patients.
"Scientists in the fields of stem cell and cancer research are on the brink of new discoveries that may soon affect the understanding and treatment of disease," said Irving Weissman, MD, the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor for Clinical Investigation in Cancer Research and director of Stanford's stem cell institute. "With this magnificent lead gift from Lorry Lokey, Stanford will have the facilities to lead those efforts."
Weissman, who was the first to isolate stem cells in both mice and humans, said the availability of new space will attract key faculty to Stanford and spur collaborations with scientists from the around the world. The new center will include 60 laboratory benches for scientists who will visit Stanford for a month or a year at a time. Lokey said the prospect of bringing top research talent to Stanford is far more meaningful to him than any worldly goods his money could buy.
"I don't want airplanes and boats and country club memberships," he said. "I believe that if you fall into a lot of money like I did, you put it into the soil - you replenish the soil for next year's crop."
Stanford University Medical Center integrates research, medical education and patient care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. For more information, please visit the Web site of the medical center's Office of Communication & Public Affairs at http://mednews.stanford.edu.
Stanford University Medical Center