An undated file photo of Michael Moritz.
An undated file photo of Michael Moritz.

SAN FRANCISCO -- A legendary Silicon Valley investor and his wife have given $30 million to what will be a $60 million UC San Francisco fund for Ph.D. students in basic sciences.

The school on Tuesday announced the grant from Michael Moritz, chairman of Sequoia Capital in Menlo Park, and his wife, Harriet Heyman.

The gift, creating the largest endowed program for Ph.D. students in the history of the University of California, is being made in recognition of the critical role doctoral students play in fueling biomedical research, according to a news release from the school.

The UCSF Discovery Fellows Program will fund basic science doctoral programs in areas such as cell biology, biochemistry and neuroscience.

The school will match the couple's gift with $25 million of its own funds and a commitment to raise $5 million more from at least 500 donors.

"Graduate students in the life sciences play a vital role in faculty research and innovation and bring curiosity and new ideas" to the labs where they work, said UC San Francisco Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann.

Sequoia Capital made early investments in Apple (AAPL), Cisco (CSCO), Google (GOOG), Yahoo (YHOO) and PayPal, and Moritz said he sees parallels to venture capital in the UC San Francisco donation.

"There is an urgent need to ensure that smart souls don't have financial hurdles that prevent them from conducting great work," he said.

Moritz and Heyman last year gave $115 million to the University of Oxford to help low-income students.