$21 million gift supports UC San Diego’s efforts to link chemical and nanoengineering

Image courtesy of UC San Diego Today
Image courtesy of UC San Diego Today

San Diego-based philanthropist and biotech leader Aiiso Yufeng Li (Jeff) and his wife DongDong Li (Doreen) presented a $21 million gift in support of the efforts to strengthen the union between chemical engineering and nanoengineering in education and research at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

In recognition of the Li family’s gift, the department will be renamed the Aiiso Yufeng Li Family Department of Chemical and Nano Engineering. 

“UC San Diego is proud to be at the forefront of engineering innovation, and the Aiiso Yufeng Li Family Department of Chemical and Nano Engineering is a testament to our commitment to pushing boundaries and driving progress,” Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla said to UC San Diego Today. “By combining these two fields, we are poised to unlock new discoveries that will improve lives and transform industries. We are deeply grateful to Jeff and Doreen for their visionary support, which will accelerate our pursuit of breakthroughs and cement UC San Diego’s position as a global leader in engineering education and research.”

Jeff is the founder and chief strategy officer of the global biotech company CorDx, known for its production of in vitro diagnostics. 

“I am inspired by the department’s vision to unite the disciplines of chemical engineering and nanoengineering more fully, with the ultimate goal of benefiting humanity,” Jeff said. “A large part of our success at CorDx can be traced back to our desire and ability to integrate nano-scale science and engineering with chemical engineering. I believe this convergence of nano-scale engineering and chemical engineering represents a bright future for manufacturing in the U.S.”

“When I saw so many faculty in the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering connecting chemical and nanoengineering while making research advances, training students, and launching startups, I felt even more connected to the university,” he added. 

In 2007, UCSD’s Department of NanoEngineering was driven to propose new degree programs, addressing the demand for nanotechnology in the workforce. Integrating the chemical engineering degree programs into the nanoengineering department combined nanoscale research and manufacturing. The department was first recognized for its efforts with the change of the department’s name from “NanoEngineering” to “Chemical and NanoEngineering.” 

“Our faculty have a desire to make real-world positive impacts by advancing medicine or improving renewable-energy technologies that drive our efforts as researchers to connect nano-scale engineering and chemical engineering in new ways,” professor and department chair Liangfang Zhang said. 

Since then, the department has conducted a wide range of research, including the treatment of metastatic cancers in mice using a plant virus and the engineering of nanoparticles to target tumors and viruses. 

“By investing in education, this gift will not just shape the future of the Chemical and NanoEngineering department at UC San Diego, but will also pave the way for research-fueled translational advancements to our global societal good,” Jeff said. 

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Giselle Hinojosa
Giselle Hinojosa, Senior Staff Writer
I'm a first year Communications major, looking to work professionally as a journalist. When I'm not writing I'm either watching sports, out trying new food with friends, or working out.
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