The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation in New York City has announced an $8 million bequest from former board chair Stephen Lieber.
The gift to the world's largest private funder of mental health research will be used to expand its support for projects that are transforming the lives of people living with mental illness. Lieber, who was CEO of Alpine Woods Capital Investors when he died in 2020 at the age of 94, and his wife, Constance, who died in 2016, were committed to advancing scientific research on mental health and the brain and to reducing human suffering caused by severe psychiatric disorders. They began supporting BBRF (then called the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression) in 1987, with Constance Lieber serving as president of the organization from 1989 to 2007 and Stephen Lieber serving as board chair from 2008 until his death.
According to BBRF, the Liebers provided support at some point for the majority of scientific investigations funded by the organization. Two recipients of BBRF's Lieber Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Schizophrenia Research, which has been awarded since 1987, have gone on to win Nobel Prizes.
"This significant donation is especially welcomed at a time when the stresses of COVID-19 have further highlighted the need for greater attention to mental health," said BBRF president and CEO Jeffrey Borenstein. "Steve was a deeply passionate and visionary philanthropist, and along with his late wife, Connie, had a tremendous impact on psychiatric research and treatment. For more than a quarter of a century, Steve and Connie served as extraordinary philanthropic supporters and leading public advocates of brain and behavior research. They provided unwavering support to unravel the mysteries of the brain, and to better understand and treat mental illness. Together, they mobilized every resource imaginable to fund cutting-edge research and educate the public, tirelessly working to grow the BBRF grant program. Their generosity in supporting research on mental illness is a great model for all of us."