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Billionaire Gives $100-Million to UC-San Diego for Stem-Cell Research

The philanthropist T. Denny Sanford will donate $100-million to the University of California at San Diego in an effort to quicken the development of the institution’s stem-cell research for human medical treatment.

The donation will create the Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center, which will combine four existing operations, including the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, to which Mr. Sanford gave $30-million in 2008. His latest donation will provide the university’s research apparatus with “essential physical and human resources,” according to a news release on the university’s website.

“I believe we’re on the cusp of turning years of hard-earned knowledge into actual treatments for real people in need,” Mr. Sanford said in a written statement. “I want this gift to push that reality faster and farther.”

The university said Mr. Sanford’s gift was the second-largest in its history.

His philanthropy has hardly been limited to the University of California at San Diego. In 2009, Mr. Sanford gave $6-million to the University of Minnesota, his alma mater, for a new football stadium. Speculation that he would donate for a larger athletics-facilities upgrade was put to rest earlier this year by conflict-of-interest concerns surrounding a proposed merger between Sanford Health, a South Dakota-based health-care system to which Mr. Sanford donated $400-million in 2007, and Fairview Health Services, which owns the University of Minnesota Medical Center.

Mr. Sanford, 77, made his fortune through his credit-card company, First Premier, and has given away more than $1-billion in recent years. He lives in South Dakota but owns a home in La Jolla, Calif.

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