Bill and Sue Gross

Bill and Sue Gross (Courtesy UCI / July 10, 2012)

UC Irvine will honor the co-founder of Newport Beach-based Pacific Investment Management Co. (PIMCO) and his wife with the UCI Medal, the university announced Tuesday.

Bill Gross and his wife, Sue, donated $10 million to the university to create a stem cell research center after watching a "60 Minutes" special on a UCI professor who treated spinal cord injuries in animals with human embryonic stem cells, according to the university.

PIMCO, one of the nation's leading investment companies, is based in Newport Center. The Grosses, who live in Laguna Beach, are Doctors Without Borders' largest donors, UCI said.

The couple is among this year's five honorees. The others are Elizabeth Loftus, a UCI distinguished professor who investigates the malleability of human memory; and Betty Tu and David Tsoong, two major UCI donors who own Pinnacle Resources International Inc.

UCI's founding Chancellor Daniel G. Aldrich received the first UCI Medal in 1984. Other recipients include F. Sherwood Rowland, who discovered aerosol's danger to the ozone layer, and Frederick Reines, who, alongside his colleagues, discovered the neutrino.

Both men won the Nobel Prize in 1995.

The UCI Medal is the highest honor given at UCI. A formal dinner and reception, "A Celebration of Stars — The 2012 UCI Medal Awards," is scheduled for Oct. 27 at the Bren Events Center.

lauren.williams@latimes.com

Twitter: @lawilliams30