Made as part of the university's $3 billion BrownTogether campaign, the gift will enable the institute to accelerate its hiring of faculty and postdoctoral scholars in fields related to brain science, provide seed funding for high-impact research, and fund essential equipment and infrastructure initiatives in technology-intensive areas of exploration. Core areas of research at the institute include work on brain-computer interfaces focused on patients with spinal injury and paralysis; innovative advances in computational neuroscience related to behavior and mood disorders; and research into mechanisms of cell death as part of a broader effort to identify therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Alzheimer's. In recognition of the gift, the institute will be renamed the Robert J. and Nancy D. Carney Institute for Brain Science.
A 1961 Brown graduate and long-serving trustee of the university, Robert Carney is founder and chair of Vacation Publications, Inc., and previously founded financial advisory firm Jet Capital Corp. and Texas Air Corp., which owned Continental Airlines as well as several other airlines. Nancy Doerr Carney is a former television news producer. Longtime supporters of Brown, the Houston-based Carneys have established two endowed professorships at the university — the Robert J. and Nancy D. Carney University Professor of Economics and the Robert J. and Nancy D. Carney Assistant Professor of Neuroscience.
"This is a signal moment when scientists around the world are poised to solve some of the most important puzzles of the human brain," said Brown president Christina Paxson. "This extraordinarily generous gift will give Brown the resources to be at the forefront of this drive for new knowledge and therapies. We know that discoveries in brain science in the years to come will dramatically reshape human capabilities, and Brown will be a leader in this critical endeavor."