Sanford Weill's reputation as a philanthropic heavyweight continues to grow.

The retired chairman and chief executive of Citigroup and his wife, Joan, have pledged $185 million to the University of California at San Francisco to create a new research center, the university announced in a press release Monday. The hefty donation, the largest financial gift in the school's history, is earmarked for a new 270,000-square-foot building at UCSF's Mission Bay campus. The UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences will include neuroscience research laboratories and clinics for patients with brain and nervous system disorders. The gift will also help support students at the school who are working to combat neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, ALS and Parkinson's.

Sanford Weill's mother died of Alzheimer's disease; his father suffered from symptoms of depression before he died.

"We were inspired to make this gift because we recognized the potential of UCSF physicians and scientists to significantly advance our understanding of brain diseases and lay the groundwork for new therapies," Sanford Weill said in the release.

The couple's Weill Family Foundation has made more than $1 billion in charitable donations to educational, medical and cultural and arts institutions over the past four decades, including $600 million to Cornell University, Sanford Weill's alma mater. The donation to UCSF is part of Sanford Weill's signing of the Giving Pledge, a commitment by some of the world's wealthiest individuals and families, including founders Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, to donate most of their wealth to charitable causes. "Now is the moment for the neurosciences to begin making a real difference in the lives of patients and their families, and the Weills' unprecedented generosity will help make this possible," UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood said in a statement.

Sanford Weill became chairman of the California university's executive council last year, according to The New York Times.

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