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A Commitment to the Future: UC San Diego Founders’ Pledge Launched

Alumni entrepreneurs and industry leaders are among the first to commit a portion of their anticipated future equity gains to UC San Diego

Photo of Geisel Library with a pink and orange sunset in the background.
Forward-looking alumni and industry leaders have signed UC San Diego's newly established Founders' Pledge with the goal of supporting the campus in the future.

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Entrepreneurial spirit and groundbreaking innovation have become synonymous with UC San Diego and its alumni. With that same ethos, the campus has launched the UC San Diego Founders’ Pledge. The new initiative allows entrepreneurs, equity holders and early investors to commit a portion of their anticipated equity gains to UC San Diego, with the ultimate goal of helping to address some of the world’s most pressing problems.

With an eye to making a positive impact, several alumni and industry leaders have already signed the pledge, including Sergey Sikora, MBA ’06, who was a member of the Rady School of Management’s inaugural class.

After enrolling at the Rady School of Management while working as a post-doctoral fellow at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Sikora pivoted from his origins in bioinformatics to a series of leadership roles and entrepreneurial successes in biotech. His latest endeavor is focused on the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Black and white photo of Sergey Sikora
Sergey Sikora, MBA '06

The concept of the Founders’ Pledge resonated with Sikora, as an alumnus of the Rady School and entrepreneur.

“I always wanted to give, but as an entrepreneur, you have your money tied up in the company. You get shares, and you reinvest many back – it's always tied up,” said Sikora. “For an entrepreneur who wants to give something back, it’s great be able to pledge the proceeds of the stock.”

For Sikora, it feels like his impact is coming full circle. “This opportunity is quite remarkable because the Rady School was founded for entrepreneurs.”

Pledge signers can designate a percentage of their anticipated future gains to UC San Diego; there is no minimum gift requirement. Upon taking the Founders’ Pledge, signers become members of the Founders’ Society, which hosts events and networking opportunities on an ongoing basis.

“We are pleased that the UC San Diego Founders’ Pledge provides an innovative new means by which donors can support the campus, including groundbreaking research and our promising students who will go on to become the next generation’s leaders,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “UC San Diego Founders’ Pledge also offers a unique opportunity for like-minded entrepreneurs and industry leaders to come together with the goal of making positive change in the world.”

‘Walking the walk’

UC San Diego Founders’ Pledge signer Pelin Thorogood is a local entrepreneur who appreciates the incredible potential in modern medicine. But she has also seen where it falls short – with a significant focus on treating acute illnesses, but not enough on promoting personalized health and wellness. A pioneer in advancing big data for precision marketing, Thorogood joined forces with a medical doctor to launch Radicle Science, an AI-driven healthtech company.

Photo of Pelin Thorogood
Pelin Thorogood

“We’re on a mission to democratize access to clinical trials for non-pharmaceutical interventions to create a future of proven, personalized treatments accessible for all,” said Thorogood.

It was through UC San Diego’s top-ranked health system that Thorogood became familiar with the campus and its research prowess. She now serves as a board trustee and vice chair of the UC San Diego Foundation.

Public benefit matters a great deal to Thorogood. Radicle Science is a Public Benefit Corporation, meaning that serving the common good is part of the company’s DNA. It is this same commitment that inspired Thorogood to sign the Founders’ Pledge.

“It’s about impact,” said Thorogood, “and also action that inspires others – always walking the walk. If you do the right thing and embody the change you want to see, others will take heart to be their best selves.”

Sam Ramji ’94 is an alumnus who got reconnected to the campus when his son, who is now 26, was also attending UC San Diego. With industry leadership experience at Microsoft and Google, Ramji became a trustee of the UC San Diego Foundation, served as a member of the Campaign for UC San Diego cabinet and was asked to join the advisory council for the Jacobs School of Engineering. 

Photo of Sam Ramji

Sam Ramji '94 (Credit: Henry Dombey)

“Since graduation, I’ve learned a lot about UC San Diego,” said Ramji. “I can see how much foundational modern research has been done at the campus. At my new startup we're starting to do some directed research with UC San Diego’s leading faculty. Hopefully, a few years from now, we'll be one of many companies that traces its lineage to UC San Diego.”

Ramji’s company, Sailplane, is working to make software engineers more productive through innovative AI operations software, in a similar manner to how office software makes office workers more productive. The startup is developing an AI “autopilot” that autonomously deploys, debugs and troubleshoots apps, removing mundane toil and preventing emergency calls to engineers. 

When Ramji learned about the Founders’ Pledge, the opportunity made perfect sense to him.

“I think throughout your life, you're going to want to be measured on your benefit to others,” said Ramji. “Have you made people’s lives easier? Have you helped them take care of what they care about most? For me, being able to help elevate people starts with their ability to have more agency – getting a good education and ultimately advancing society’s collective knowledge. Where is there a more powerful place to which you can stand and contribute than our university?”

There is no minimum gift size associated with the Founders’ Pledge and donors can direct their support to any area of campus they choose. To learn more about the UC San Diego Founders’ Pledge, please visit the website


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