The donation, from the John and Lucille van Geest Foundation - the biggest gift received by Leicester - will fund the construction of a £2.5 million biomarker facility next to the university's new Cardiovascular Research Centre. The facility will aim to develop personalised treatments for heart disease.
Leong Ng, professor of medicine and therapeutics at Leicester, said that the city's multi-ethnic population would allow "comparisons of disease mechanisms across different ethnic groups, making the research not just valid and applicable to one section of humankind but possibly to larger world population groups".
The remaining £4.5 million will be used to fund heart research at Leicester. Steve O'Connor, the university's director of development, said the preference was for the institution to use only the interest generated by the sum to fund the projects.
However, the terms of the donation will not prevent the university from eating into the capital where appropriate.
Mr O'Connor said the fundraising success of the university's development office since it was established three years ago showed that smaller research universities such as Leicester could compete with larger institutions for private philanthropy.
"This is a very competitive arena and I don't [underestimate] the challenge of rubbing shoulders with Oxbridge, but we are equally capable of attracting big donations and our work deserves it," he said.