updated 9/11/2007 4:15:30 PM ET 2007-09-11T20:15:30

Billionaire Eli Broad on Monday donated $20 million to the University of California, Los Angeles, for stem cell research.

The gift from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation will be used to purchase laboratory equipment, endow professorships and provide research grants. Broad was joined by the Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at a ceremony on campus.

Embryonic stem cell research has been a key issue in California following voter approval in 2004 of Proposition 71, an initiative that will allocate $3 billion to search for treatments for Parkinson's disease, diabetes and other debilitating and fatal conditions.

"California is at the vanguard of stem cell research, and we need to leverage the voter-approved funds of Proposition 71," said Eli Broad, a California real estate developer who helped found SunAmerica and later sold it to American International Group. "This center further establishes UCLA as a pioneer in the field of stem cell research, which holds great potential to dramatically improve the human condition."

The university's Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine will be renamed the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research.

Last year, Broad donated $25 million for stem cell research to the University of Southern California.

Schwarzenegger, whose father-in-law, Sargent Shriver, has Alzheimer's disease, has been a vocal supporter of stem cell research.

"Stem cell research holds the potential for incredible advances in medicine and hope for the eventual end of the suffering from diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and cancer," Schwarzenegger said.

"California has always been a pioneer. This generous gift will help ensure that California continues to lead the way in stem cell research, developing therapies and cures that we could only imagine a few years ago."

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