LOS ANGELES -

The University of Southern California received a $25 million endowment from a former CEO of one of the nation's largest health insurance companies, the university announced Thursday.  

The endowment from Leonard Schaeffer is aimed at helping researchers at the USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics study how to reduce the rising cost of health care while improving patient outcomes nationwide.

The center Schaeffer founded in 2009 is run jointly by the Price School of Public Policy and the School of Pharmacy.

Schaeffer, who is also a USC professor, said his gift will fund independent and interdisciplinary research into effective policies to address health care in the public and private sectors at a time when the nation faces "grave health and fiscal challenges."

"Leonard Schaeffer has demonstrated a life-long commitment to relevant, evidence-based health policy research," said Dana Goldman, director of the Schaeffer Center and the Norman Topping Chair in Medicine and Public Policy.

"With this additional gift, he ensures that our mission of providing independent, innovative solutions to today's health policy challenges will endure beyond the current era of health care reform."

Researchers at the Schaeffer Center have analyzed preventive care, insurance competition, the fiscal future of Social Security and Medicare and which medical specialties are most likely to face malpractice claims.

"As health care assumes an increasingly prominent place in public policy discussions, the USC Schaeffer Center will play an even more central role, while offering a uniquely interdisciplinary perspective," USC President C. L. Max Nikias.

"The center brings together USC's schools of public policy and pharmacy, drawing on collaborative scholarship to address the most complex questions facing health care today."

Schaeffer is the founding chairman and former CEO of WellPoint and a former assistant secretary for management and budget at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.