UT Southwestern Campaign Plows $1 Billion into Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute: Newsroom
DALLAS – February 16, 2022 – UT Southwestern Medical Center has completed a five-year, $1 billion campaign to fuel its commitment to advancing brain research and clinical care at its Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute, this making it one of the largest brain-focused investments in an American academic medical center.
A new nine-story research tower – the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Biomedical Research Building – opens this year to significantly expand on-campus lab space for brain research.
The campaign has raised more than $500 million in community philanthropic support for research, technology enhancements, and faculty recruitment, combined with $500 million in investments in UT Southwestern facilities and programs to continue research translational and basic, cutting-edge training and care in the areas of neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and the basic neurosciences underlying brain disease and injury.
“This billion-dollar investment reflects UT Southwestern’s commitment to working at the forefront of basic scientific and clinical research aimed at understanding brain function and uncovering transformational insights for diagnosis and treatment. treatment of disorders affecting the brain. Our hope is that one day no patient diagnosed with a brain disease will ever hear the words ‘there is no cure,’” said Daniel K. Podolsky, MD, president of UT Southwestern.
“We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this campaign,” said Robert B. “Bob” Rowling, Chair of the Brain Campaign Steering Committee. “The funds that have been raised will make the O’Donnell Brain Institute an epicenter of research. We do not know what kind of discoveries will come out of it. »
Support enables the O’Donnell Brain Institute to:
- Advance research into the mechanisms underlying brain disease in order to develop more effective therapies.
- Enroll more people in clinical trials to quickly get research findings to patients.
- Expand UT Southwestern’s research and clinical expertise by recruiting rising stars from across relevant disciplines.
- Providing state-of-the-art facilities to carry out the Institute’s mission, including a nine-story research tower – the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Biomedical Research Building – which will open later this year to significantly expand space research for the O’Donnell Brain Institute’s more than 2,100 faculty members and additional recruits, as well as the third tower of William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital opened last year as a Institute inpatient house to provide the best care environment for our patients suffering from brain disease.
- Expand the computational and analytical support needed to efficiently analyze large numbers of proteins, genes, neurons, and other potential therapeutic targets.
- Acquire enhanced imaging and other advanced technologies such as the most sensitive magnetoencephalography, or MEG in the countrysidethat maps brain activity to assess everything from concussions to dementia.
- Providing breakthrough treatments such as High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) for patients with Essential Tremor (TE) and Tremor Predominant Parkinson’s Disease (TPPD).
Epilepsy and neurosurgery specialists at the O’Donnell Brain Institute helped SMU student Hope Anderson get her life back on track after being diagnosed with glioma. Watch his inspiring story.
“I see the brain as the next frontier of medicine,” the late Mr. O’Donnell said of the initial donation to launch the Institute. Mr. O’Donnell, along with his late wife, Edith, and the O’Donnell Foundation they established, have contributed more than $300 million to UT Southwestern over the decades, supporting some of the most innovative programs and the most impactful of the Medical Center. “We need discovery, and that will be done by the most talented people we can find and support. It cannot be done by simply wishing it to happen. You have to get there.
O’Donnell Brain Institute collaborations are key
Collaboration is a fundamental characteristic of the O’Donnell Brain Institute. These include the Center for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases, Center for Translational Neurodegeneration Research, Texas Institute for Brain Injury and Repair, Mobility Foundation Center for Rehabilitation Research, Annette G. Strauss Center for Neuro-Oncology, Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care, and the Advanced Imaging Research Center. UTSW’s Whole Brain Microscopy Facility, supported by the Texas Institute for Brain Injury and Repair, is uniquely suited to advance the study of traumatic brain injury, using state-of-the-art microscopy strategies.
“To solve brain diseases, everyone will have to work together – the person studying molecules in the lab, the clinician who understands a patient’s symptoms, the staff caring for the patient, and everyone else,” said William Dauer. , MD, first director of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute and a professor of neurology and neuroscience acclaimed for his research in dystonia and Parkinson’s disease.
Already, scientists at the O’Donnell Brain Institute are attempting medical feats impossible a decade or two ago, from treating depression with brain electrodes to correcting deadly genetic mutations to detecting underlying processes. underlying Alzheimer’s disease through the analysis of neurons. The O’Donnell Brain Institute leads national discoveries in several areas. Examples include:
- Biomarkers differentiating types of psychosis to better understand the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and related disorders and to explore how the brain produces hallucination or delirium, providing insight at the cellular and synaptic levels.
- A depression initiative to identify pharmacological, psychosocial and non-pharmacological treatments for depression, including MRI brain imaging biomarkers that bring new levels of accuracy for prescribing the most effective antidepressants, as well as national collaborations to expand the detection and treatment of depression and other disorders by UTSW’s Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care.
- Development of a single-cut gene-editing technique using CRISPR technologies that halted Duchenne muscular dystrophy in animal models.
- A gene therapy program focused on developing treatments for rare and fatal neurological diseases in children, which led to the launch of the first clinical trials last year that attracted patients from around the world.
- Using direct stereo EEG recordings to locate the origin of epileptic seizures in the brain and develop strategies that can improve memory function and restore memory in patients with brain damage or tumors.
- Investigate molecular pathways important to human brain evolution that are also at risk in cognitive disorders such as autism and Alzheimer’s disease to uncover disease-relevant gene expression patterns.
- Pioneer in the use of direct genetics and positional cloning in mouse models as a tool for the discovery of genes underlying neurobiology and behavior, including the description of a conserved circadian clock mechanism in animals .
- Investments in cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) – an imaging system that allows visualization of proteins at the atomic level to reveal the structure and function of receptors on the surface of brain cells and how they interact with drugs.
“The complexity of neural function in the human brain, superimposed on the dysfunctions of brain injury and disease, is a daunting challenge,” Dr. Podolsky noted. “We needed help to meet this challenge. Our community of supporters and friends at the Southwestern Medical Foundation have responded with extraordinary generosity during extraordinary times. We deeply appreciate the trust and partnership represented by each contributor – our philanthropists, our patients, our scientists, our caregivers and our collaborators – in solving the puzzle of brain function and alleviating the suffering of so many patients and their families. affected by brain diseases and injuries.
Dr. Dauer is the Lois CA and Darwin E. Smith Chair of Excellence in Neuromobility Research.
Dr. Podolsky holds the Presidential Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., MD Distinguished Chair in Academic Administration and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Sciences.
About UT Southwestern Medical Center
UT Southwestern, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes and includes 25 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 researchers from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Full-time faculty of more than 2,800 people are responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and committed to rapidly translating scientific research into new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in approximately 80 specialties to more than 117,000 inpatients, more than 360,000 emergency room cases, and oversee nearly 3 million outpatient visits annually.