David Murdock, the 91-year-old billionaire founder of the North Carolina Research Campus, has set aside $15 million annually from his estate with the goal of advancing life science research for years to come. But the feisty Murdock says he still aims to live to 125.

Speaking at a press conference at the site of a former textile mill in Kannapolis, Murdock announced the yearly commitment “in perpetuity.”

Appearing to be in good health and with his voice strong, Murdock made the news – and then jetted off to South America.

“I’m healthy,” he declared.

“I’m well.”

And he still aims to reach the 125 goal.

But Murdock, who visits Kannapolis several times a year and maintains a residence there, also acknowledged that he won’t be around forever. He wants the annual funding that research doesn’t stop.

Just over a year ago, Murdock made a $50 million pledge to the David H. Murdock Research Institute inside NCRC. Tuesday, he upped that investment considerably.

Murdock also is hoping to hire someone he considers “capable of becoming a Nobel Laureate” to lead the Institute.

“We will be interviewing and hiring a highly qualified thought leader for the David H. Murdock Research Institute who might one day be capable of becoming a Nobel Laureate and whose scientific research will drive the Institute to new discoveries and innovation,” Murdock said in a statement ahead of the announcement.

Murdock is chairman/CEO and owner of Castle & Cooke, Inc.; and owner of Dole Food Company, Inc. The 91-year-old billionaire was ranked No. 211 on Forbes Richest Americans list released on Monday at $3 billion.

“I am committing these resources to provide our scientists the opportunity to study the benefits of diets rich in fruits and vegetables and the effects of good nutrition and lifestyle on longevity and health,” Murdock explained. “The David H. Murdock Research Institute will provide the innovation and technological advancements that will allow for groundbreaking science to improve the health of North Carolina and potentially the world.”

Last year’s gift has funded the updating of equipment in the DHMRI’s six laboratories and underwritten the initial work of developing independent research programs in diabetes, metabolomics and cardiovascular disease.

Murdock established the not-for-profit David H. Murdock Research Institute as the core laboratory facility for the NCRC, offering a broad range of advanced technologies to campus partners and corporate, academic, non-profit and government collaborators around the world.

DHMRI is the flagship institute of the NCRC, which was founded by Murdock in 2005.

The NCRC is home to 20 academic, industry, technology and healthcare partners all focused on research advancing human health, nutrition and agriculture.

Murdock’s personal investment in the campus exceeds $800 million.