Saying he wanted to do “all I can to advance scientific research that will vastly improve the quality of life for mankind,” billionaire David H. Murdock, founder of the the North Carolina Research Campus, announced a $50 million gift to support the research institute that bears his name.

The gift will support day-to-day operations of the David H. Murdock Research Institute over the next eight years. The gift signifies Murdock’s commitment to research in health care. He said that the funds will maintain the DHMRI as a critical engine for science that will improve health in North Carolina and around the world. Murdock made the announcement today at the Washington Duke Inn in Durham.

The DHMRI is the core laboratory for the NC Research Campus, a 350-acre campus in Kannapolis that Murdock envisioned becoming a new hub of research and innovation for the region. The campus was built on on the site of the former textiles manufacturer Cannon Mills, at one time the largest manufacturer of towels and sheets in the world.

In 2003, the site’s owner Pillowtex filed for bankruptcy and closed the mills, laying off thousands. Murdock announced plans for the research campus in 2005, aiming to build a new research and science hub to succeed the textiles economic engine that once powered the community.

Eight North Carolina universities, including North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Duke University, maintain a presence on the NC Research Campus. The campus also has several private tenants, such as laboratory and diagnostics firm LabCorp (NYSE:LH), whose headquarters is in Burlington. More than 600 jobs are associated with the NC Research Campus through its 16 corporate and academic partners.

Murdock also envisions the campus becoming a source of additional job growth. He cited a recent study done for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center that shows North Carolina leading the nation in biotechnology job growth. The growth rate of the North Carolina biotechnology industry was 23.5 percent between 2001 and 2011, compared to 6.5 percent nationwide. Murdock said his gift will help strengthen North Carolina’s position as a leader in biotechnology and in life science jobs.

Since 2007, Murdock invested more than $131 million in the DHMRI. He has also invested more than $600 million in the development of the NCRC.

“Through the philanthropy of David H. Murdock, the DHMRI will have the resources to improve human nutrition and address human conditions through modern science,” Steven Lommel, a member of the DHMRI board of directors and the institute’s interim president said in a statement.

“That science requires the integration of many disciplines including plant biology, molecular biology, population genetics, clinical trials and computational sciences.”