University of Hawaii Manoa

UH Mānoa News

$1 million gift to University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa's Confocal Microscopy Laboratory at Moku o Lo‘e

University of Hawaii at Manoa
Contact: Margot Schrire
UH Foundation, Director of Communications
Lee Tokuhara
Bennet Group Strategic Communications
Posted: May 27, 2009

Honolulu, HI Pam Omidyar, island resident, co-founder of Omidyar Network and founder of HopeLab and Humanity United, has given $1 million to the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa's Confocal Microscopy Laboratory at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) at Moku o Lo‘e. This donation will allow for the purchase of a new microscope, which will make it possible for researchers at HIMB, in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, to examine physiological activities in living cells under normal and stressed conditions.

As Ruth Gates, a scientist at HIMB, noted: “The scope of the science that can be done using this imaging technology is staggering and addresses questions at the very frontier of modern biological science. To our knowledge, this will be the first confocal instrument deployed adjacent to a living coral reef and in a facility that houses other instruments that support cutting edge research in functional genomics.”

“We are so grateful to Pam for making this extraordinary gift,” said Jo-Ann Leong, director of HIMB. “Her generosity and foresight will enhance the research capacity of the Institute and make it possible to gain additional funding to bring this technology to other partners in the Pacific Basin.”

Coral reef ecosystems provide value to coastal communities at an estimated net benefit of $29.8 billion a year from tourism, fisheries, coastal protection, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration. Global climate change and predicted changes in the CO2 saturation of the world’s oceans will have an impact on these ecosystems. Pam’s gift will help directly in the effort to understand these coral reef ecosystem processes and to develop possible solutions to help communities maintain their coastal resources. Brian Taylor, dean of SOEST, who helped make the gift possible, said "The support from Pam will extend the ability of faculty and students at HIMB to conduct marine biology research at its very best. HIMB is uniquely situated and Pam's gift will make it uniquely equipped."

For years Pam Omidyar has supported the research and development of new technologies in biological science. She earned a BS in biology from Tufts University and a master's degree in molecular genetics from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Her interest in science also led her to found HopeLab, an organization dedicated to combining rigorous research with innovative solutions to improve the health and quality of life of young people with chronic illness.

# # #

The Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology is a research institute in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Its mission is the facilitation and support of multi-disciplinary research and education in tropical marine biology. Please visit

The University of Hawai‘i Foundation, a nonprofit organization, raises private funds to support the University of Hawai‘i System. Our mission is to unite our donors’ passions with the University of Hawai‘i's aspirations to benefit the people of Hawai‘i and beyond. We do this by raising private philanthropic support, managing private investments and nurturing donor and alumni relationships. Please visit