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UCI Health cancer care expansion gets $20 million from long-time benefactor

Behind the name on the building that will open a couple of years from now as UCI Health’s new cancer care center, next to the UC Irvine campus, is a more than 25-year commitment — and a $20 million gift toward expanding access to that care.

The gift is the single biggest donation toward what will be known as the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and Ambulatory Care at the new UCI Medical Center in Irvine. And it brings the Chao family’s financial commitment to fighting cancer at UCI Health to a whopping $50 million since 1995.

“They have been such wonderful, consistent supporters,” said Chad Lefteris, chief executive officer of UCI Health.

“What a special family and gift to us.”

That gift will make it possible for more people to benefit from the comprehensive and cutting edge cancer treatment and therapies at the new center that will be built on land by the corner of Jamboree Boulevard and Campus Avenue, Lefteris said.

Construction at the planned $1.2 billion medical complex is expected to begin later this summer, with the Chao cancer center set to open in late 2023. The new hospital will follow in 2025.

Since 1994, UCI Health has operated one of the country’s 51 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers, and the only one in Orange County, at its medical campus in Orange. The new center will be part of that designation.

The Chao family, who made money in the pharmaceutical industry, is now on its third-generation of UCI Health donors. The family’s commitment began in 1995; the cancer center in Orange is known as the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Family member Allen Chao was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1999 and successfully treated by UCI Health gastroenterologist Dr. Kenneth Chang, further deepening the family’s desire to bring such high-level care to more people.

“We are proud to continue our partnership with UCI and to know that community members from all walks of life benefit from the lifesaving treatments offered here,” Allen Chao said in a written statement.

UCI Health chief Lefteris hopes the generosity of the Chao family will spur others to make their own financial contributions to cancer care in Orange County. The Chao family’s commitment will be hard to match.

“This is a legacy,” Lefteris said. “It gives me chill bumps to think about it.”

Source: Orange County Register

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