UC Davis Health System gifted largest-ever donation from single person

Sacramento-based UC Davis Health System received $38.5 million in gifts and pledges from Ernest Tschannen for its Eye Center and Center for Vision Science, marking the university's largest-ever donation from an individual.

Mr. Tschannen, a 91-year-old Switzerland native, is a grateful patient of the UC Davis Health System who first underwent eye surgery there in 2000. This experience inspired his initial donation — of $25 — to which he later added $1.5 million for optic nerve and glaucoma research. He recently signed on to add an additional $37 million to that gift, with an outright commitment of $18.5 million.

"I have realized great success in the United States, and so my primary goal in life now is to give back to the country that gave so much to me," Mr. Tschannen said, according to UC Davis. "I like to help whenever I can. I'm so glad I am able to do it."

His donations have funded hiring one of the top optic nerve researchers in the country and have launched plans to build a new eye center on the system's Sacramento campus.

"Our mission is to be the world's transformational leader in collaborative vision research and in developing cures for blinding eye diseases from cornea to cortex," said Mark Mannis, MD, chair of ophthalmology and vision science and director of the eye center, according to UC Davis.

"Mr. Tschannen's gifts will allow us to realize this vision beyond anything we could have realized on our own. His generosity will fuel innovative, collaborative vision research, and allow us to provide state-of-the-art, world-class eye care and training. For that, we are eternally grateful."

 

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