The University of Washington, UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco are launching a research network aimed at finding new treatments for brain diseases. Dubbed the Weill Neurohub, the effort is being funded with a $106 million donation from the Weill Family Foundation.
The idea behind the new venture is to bring together people from a range of scientific and technical disciplines to tackle neurological and psychological disorders such as Alzheimer’s; Parkinson’s; anxiety and depression; traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury; multiple sclerosis; ALS; and schizophrenia.
While specific projects have not been identified, the aim is to go beyond the traditional scope of neuroscience research into realms like data science and engineering.
“The gains in knowledge amassed by neuroscientists over the past few decades can now be brought to the next level with supercomputers, electronic brain–computer interfaces, nanotechnology, robotics, and powerful imaging tools,” Sandy Weill, Weill Family Foundation chairman, said in a statement. Weill, the former CEO and chairman of Citigroup, also recently donated $14.6 million to Carnegie Hall.
Current neuroscience research at the three universities includes investigations into next-generation MRI scans, implants that let paralyzed patients control robotic limbs, and devices that can help treat spinal cord injuries.
“To my knowledge, this is a nationally unique enterprise — drawing on diverse approaches to accomplish goals no single institution could reach alone, as well as seeding and accelerating research and discovery,” said Dr. Tom Daniel, a biology professor at UW who will serve on the Neurohub’s leadership team.
The Neurohub will be led by co-directors Dr. Stephen Hauser from UCSF and Berkley’s Dr. Ehud “Udi” Isacoff. The gift follows the establishment of the Weill Institute for Neurosciences at UCSF in 2016, which was created with a $185 million donation from the Weill family.
UW separately announced plans last month to create the Institute for Brain Health Solutions, which is being created out of a $50 million gift from Lynn and Mike Garvey.