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About Dana and David Dornsife

Dana and David Dornsife help to solve the biggest problems facing today’s world through their generosity, intelligence, talent and time. Their steadfast focus on improving the quality of life for all peoples through their leadership and support of innovative research reflects the core values of the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

David Dornsife is chairman of the Herrick Corporation, the largest steel fabricator on the West Coast. A 1965 USC alumnus, he studied business administration, and was a shot-putter on the university’s track team that won two national championships.

A USC Presidential Associate and a USC trustee, Dornsife is vice president of the Hedco Foundation and chairman of the board for the USC Brain and Creativity Institute.

Dana Dornsife is cofounder of Axiom Design, Inc., an architectural electronic and lighting design firm established in 1991. She founded Adorn in 2002, a lighting and interior design company for the custom spec home market. Dana received her bachelor’s degree in business from Drexel University, an Interior Design Certification from John F. Kennedy University, and her Lighting Design Certification through the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America.

A board member of the USC Brain and Creativity Institute and the USC-Huntington Institutes. Dana is founder and president of the Lazarex Cancer Foundation, a nonprofit that provides financial assistance to defray the costs associated with patient participation in U.S. Food and Drug Administration clinical trials. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Epeius Biotechnologies, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing genetic medicine for the treatment of cancer.

Together the Dornsifes served as members of the Steering Committee for the Tradition & Innovation fundraising initiative in the College. In 2009, their lead gift to USC and USC College’s neuroscience program provided support for the construction of a new Brain and Creativity Institute Building.

Through the Hedco Foundation, the Dornsife family legacy helped create the Hedco Neurosciences Building, the Hedco Auditorium, and the Hedco Petroleum and Chemical Molecular Biology Laboratories. 

David Dornsife’s parents, Harold and Ester, were USC alumni and longtime supporters of their alma mater. The elder Dornsifes gave the lead gift for the Hedco Neuroscience Building, which helped establish USC’s position as a pioneering and important leader in the emerging field of neuroscience.

Dornsife’s mother Ester, a pre-med major in the College, maintained a lifelong interest in the medical field, and, in particular, its neuroscience program. David and his wife Dana, along with his sister Dody Jernstedt, endowed the Ester Dornsife Chair in Biological Sciences (1998) held by Norman Arnheim and the Harold Dornsife Neurosciences Chair (2000) held by Irving Biederman, as well as the Harold Dornsife Section in USC’s Galen Center (2005). 

Dana and David endowed two additional chairs and funded an imaging center that were instrumental in recruiting two distinguished neuroscientists to USC College, Antonio Damasio and Hanna Damasio.

The couple are active supporters of World Vision, an international humanitarian agency. Through World Vision in West Africa, they support microeconomic enterprise, agriculture and literacy programs in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and, in partnership with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, well-water drilling in Mali, Ghana, Niger, Ethiopia, Zambia and Malawi.

The Dornsifes are also supporters of the Alzheimer’s Association Cerebrospinal Fluid Quality (CSF) Control Program, launched in 2009, that brought together world laboratories with the aim of standardizing the measurement potential of Alzheimer biomarkers in CSF.

Counting environmentalism and sustainability among their priorities, the Dornsifes are part of the Yosemite Conservancy leadership team.

On March 23, 2011, USC President C. L. Max Nikias bestowed University Medallions upon the Dornsifes, an honor presented to only one other person in USC’s 131-year-history. The couple also received the USC College Dean’s Medallion for their commitment to innovation in 2005, and are members of the USC Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

The Dornsifes reside in Danville, Calif. and together have six children from their first marriages.

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