Donors Forge New Group to Support UC San Diego Center Championing Scientific Approach to Preserving Artistic Treasures

San Diego, CA, September 22, 2007  -- Private donors working closely with the University of California, San Diego have established a philanthropic initiative to support the activities of a new research center devoted to innovating and using new technologies to better understand and preserve artistic treasures.

The Annunciation Project
The first CISA3 project, to analyze Leonardo da Vinci's "The Annunciation" (right), got underway early this year at Florence's Uffizi Gallery.

"Friends of CISA3" will channel gifts and other support to the Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3) at UC San Diego, founded in February 2007. Individual, family and trust donations at the $25,000, $50,000 and $100,000 levels will be used to support technology and field projects that further the center's mission - the conservation and preservation of the world's cultural and artistic heritage through modern science and technology.

In announcing the new vehicle for philanthropic support, organizers said that the inaugural donations at the top $100,000 level came from two couples with deep ties to the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering: alumni Sandra Timmons and Richard Sandstrom; and long-time supporters of the engineering school, Natalie and Robert Englekirk (an adjunct professor in the structural engineering department).

"We are delighted to be in a position to push forward this amazing new center that is bringing San Diego know-how onto the world stage," said Sandstrom, co-founder and chief technical advisor of Cymer, Inc. "I am particularly taken with CISA3's focus on multispectral imaging of great art works, because we are literally seeing these works again for the first time-in a way that no one has been able to see them in hundreds of years."

Robert Englekirk is chairman emeritus of The Englekirk Companies. "As a structural engineer, I appreciate that a major focus of CISA3 is on understanding monumental buildings and other historic structures," said Englekirk. "Natalie and I are impressed with the work that has already been done by the center's director, Maurizio Seracini, over the past thirty years, and we hope that other Californians and donors around the country will join us in underwriting the fantastic set of high-profile projects that are already underway or on the drawing board."

Projects expected to receive funding through "Friends of CISA3" include, among others:

  • The Battle of Anghiari: CISA3's Seracini is leading the scientific search for Leonardo da Vinci's long-lost mural, not seen since the Great Hall of Florence's Palazzo Vecchio was renovated nearly 500 years ago. Italian and municipal officials will soon announce the official list of sponsors for this project, including "Friends of CISA3".
  • Palazzo Medici: In February, CISA3 signed a memorandum of understanding with the President of the Province of Florence, Matteo Renzi, to undertake a three-year study of this palazzo widely considered the "birthplace of the Renaissance." The project will get underway this fall.
  • Digital Clinical Charts: In a partnership with the San Diego Museum of Art, CISA3 has begun developing "clinical charts" for key works in the museum's permanent collection, based on diagnostic imaging and analysis. CISA3 is also partnering with foundations and other institutions to develop a methodology that would make clinical charts as commonplace for art conservation as they are for diagnosing and treating a medical patient.
  • The Annunciation: As part of a long-term partnership with the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, CISA3 was permitted to scan Leonardo da Vinci's The Annunciation; preliminary results are pending, and other major Renaissance works in the Uffizi collection are expected to be the subject of future CISA3 field projects in Florence.

Maurizio Seracini
CISA3 director Maurizio Seracini in the Palazzo Vecchio, in front of the mural that he believes has hidden da Vinci's "The Battle of Anghiari" for nearly 500 years. Photo by David Yoder
CISA3 director Maurizio Seracini, UCSD Bioengineering Class of '73, returned to the campus in 2006 to build the new research center within the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). CISA3 is a partnership of Calit2, the Jacobs School of Engineering, and UCSD's Division of Arts and Humanities.

"I am extremely grateful to Rick and Sue, Bob and Natalie, as well as our other Friends of CISA3, because they confirm what I have always thought about California and why I returned to UCSD for this opportunity," said Seracini. "I do not know of any other educational institution that is so dedicated to the interdisciplinary approach on which CISA3 is based, and nowhere that you can find this combination of technological know-how, interest in art and culture, and a civic community willing to support philanthropic causes that are not easily categorized. I don't think CISA3 could have happened anywhere else."

Donors interested in becoming members of "Friends of CISA3" can subscribe at one of three levels: Leonardo ($100,000+), Michelangelo ($50,000) or Raphael ($25,000). Membership benefits range from invitations to CISA3 salons and lectures, to a behind-the-scenes, privileged tour of the museums and private villas of Florence guided by Dr. Seracini. Additional naming and funding opportunities are available to support specific projects, initiatives and students. More information about joining "Friends of CISA3" is available from Kelly Briggs at (858) 534-2329, or email  

Media Contacts

Doug Ramsey
Jacobs School of Engineering

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