Former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill and his wife Joan Weill have announced that they will donate $185 million towards brain research. The money will go to the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), to set up the Weill Institute for Neurosciences. This is one of the biggest donations that has ever been made to the field of neuroscience in America, and the biggest donation ever made to UCSF.
Both of Sandy Weill’s parents were affected by brain-related conditions. His mother had Alzheimer’s and his father suffered from serious depression. Joan, whose mother lived till the age of a hundred and had a healthy mind, had the opposite experience. These disparities in the way people’s brains age differently over time made the couple want to donate their money to this field. According to a report in The Washington Post, Mr. Weill’s joked that since Joan ‘comes from a family with very good brains’, he needs to fund research in the neurosciences to ‘keep up with her’.
There have been a lot of discoveries in cancer and cardiovascular disease that have allowed people’s bodies to live longer, but there has not been nearly as much in the neurosciences. My wife comes from a family with very good brains. Therefore I need this developmental work so I can keep up with her.
Speaking to CNBC, Joan Weill’s mentioned that her hope is that further research will remove the stigma attached to mental illness, saying it’s ‘heartbreaking for so many patients and families’.
We want to keep healthy brains healthy…and help find treatments for those affected by mental illness, which is heartbreaking for so many patients and families around the world.
CNBC also reported that 50 million Americans are affected by brain-related diseases each year – including Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia, Parkinson’s disease, autism and multiple sclerosis. In the recent past, notable figures such as President Obama and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen have taken interest and invested in the field of neurosciences.