The Weill Family Foundation and Joan and Sanford I. “Sandy” Weill have donated $185 million to the University of California, San Francisco, to establish the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences.

The new Institute, announced by UCSF, aims to speed up development of new therapies for diseases affecting the brain and nervous system, including psychiatric disorders.

“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.

UCSF said the gift will serve in part as a lead source of funding for construction of a 270,000-square-foot building at the school’s Mission Bay campus that will be the headquarters for the Institute.

The building will house research laboratories, as well as clinics for patients with brain and nervous system disorders—with the goals of uniting UCSF neuroscience faculty members now located in different buildings and different campuses, as well as more closely uniting the school’s researchers with its physicians.

Other uses for the Weill's donation, according to UCSF, will include:

  • Creating the UCSF Weill Innovation Fund, designed to support “high-risk, high-reward” research projects by UCSF neuroscientists to discover new treatments for neurological and psychiatric illnesses.
  • Establishing the UCSF Weill Fellows program, designed to provide financial support to Ph.D. students in the school’s Neuroscience Graduate Program.
  • Launching a Weill Scholars program that will offer funding to help recruit promising junior faculty members. Of the approximately 45 principal investigators who will have laboratories in the new building, most are expected to be newly hired UCSF faculty.

This gift is the largest ever made to UCSF and brings to more than $500 million the sum of philanthropic commitments to the school’s neuroscience programs in the last year. It is also one of the largest ever made to support the neurosciences in the U.S., according to UCSF.

With their UCSF gift, the Weills have made more than $1 billion in donations to medical, educational, cultural, and arts institutions over the last four decades.

“It’s an opportunity to better connect the bench and the bedside to make a bigger impact in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, ALS, and Parkinson’s—as well as multiple sclerosis and other diseases,” Joan Weill stated.

“By bringing basic research in psychiatry into the fold of the neurosciences, we can help advance our understanding of mental illness, and help remove stigmas associated with mental health, so that they can be treated like any other disease of the body,” she added.

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