Inspiring Momentum: Penn Receives $16 Million Gift to Launch New Neuroscience of Behavior Initiative
December 21, 2011
Brian Strom, MD, MPH, Chair and Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Director of the Center for Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics at Penn, and Vice Dean for Institutional Affairs, will lead the new Neuroscience of Behavior Initiative.
As this year comes to a close and we set our sights ahead on the final year of Penn’s Making History
Campaign, a new gift has arrived to propel the Campaign momentum even further, building decisively on the University’s strengths — and creating new ones.
Announced just days ago by the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, an anonymous gift of $16.3 million — the single-largest donation for neuroscience research in Penn Medicine's history and among the largest individual gifts to medical research in the country this year — will fund a new Neuroscience of Behavior Initiative.
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The Neuroscience of Behavior Initiative will build on Penn Medicine’s groundbreaking work in mental and neurological research and care, and bring together researchers, physicians, educators, and policy makers to develop new science and to translate existing science into better patient care — a comprehensive, interdisciplinary effort to improve how we understand, treat, and prevent brain and behavioral disorders.
The time — and the place — couldn’t be better. Over the course of the Campaign, we’ve created a signature "geography of medicine" at Penn, a vital complex of interconnected facilities connecting and advancing research and patient care. We’ve recruited 13 Penn Integrates Knowledge professors across multiple schools and disciplines, 8 of whom have appointments in the Perelman School of Medicine. And in May of this year, the Perelman School of Medicine was endowed with a gift of $225 million by Raymond and Ruth Perelman, the largest single gift in Penn’s history and one that that will provide significantly more financial aid to medical school students, recruit the most talented physicians and scientists, and support innovative research. Now on the horizon: plans for a Neural and Behavioral Sciences building, a hub for undergraduate education in biology, psychology, and the biological basis of behavior, and one that will bring faculty in psychology and life sciences together in a collaborative space.
The new Neuroscience of Behavior Initiative will focus primarily on three areas: addiction, depressive disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Those maladies “take a toll not only on sufferers themselves, but also on families, caregivers, and society as a whole.” said Penn Medicine’s Brian Strom, a world renowned epidemiologist who will lead the initiative. “Prevention, treatment, management, and rehabilitation of these conditions are central to improving health care for millions of people.”
"The question is understanding biologically what causes them, the basic neuroscience, to potentially developing new drugs to treat them," he explained, adding that along with learning the causes, researchers will look at who is at risk for these disorders. "Part of the goal here is to get people in different areas of science to work together on common problems."
J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine, emphasized how this gift builds on Penn’s strengths while creating new capacities.
“Penn Medicine has a long history of leadership in the fields of neuroscience and psychiatry," he said. "Today, Penn is one of the few places in the world with the depth of expertise and experience to launch such a comprehensive, scientifically rigorous, and outcomes-oriented program. This transformative gift will allow us to innovate in areas of medicine that impact millions of patients directly and society as a whole.”
The gift is the first phase of what is anticipated to be a long-term investment by the donors in this initiative — a promise to what is to come for the University, for Penn Medicine, and for people everywhere.
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