To be matched by $20 million from the university, the gift will establish the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases at UF Health and support efforts to advance research, technological innovation, and clinical care for Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, Lewy body dementia, ALS, and dystonia, as well as symptoms related to traumatic brain injuries. The institute will build on the Fixel Center for Neurological Diseases — which has been renamed in honor of Lee Fixel's father, a UF alumnus — at the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute. Among other things, the funds will help UF attract additional world-class physicians, scientists, and academicians, with initial plans to recruit five faculty members and their research programs, while the newly created Fixel Scholars Endowment will support fellowships and postdoctoral researchers focused on Parkinson's.
"Given similarities between Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, these new recruits will enhance and complement our strong existing research programs in Alzheimer's disease, ALS, dystonia, brain injury, and brain aging," said Todd Golde, executive director of the McKnight Brain Institute.
Lee Fixel, a partner with the investment firm Tiger Global Management, and his wife, Lauren, a UF alumna who co-chairs the Young Manhattan Women's division at UJA-Federation of New York, had previously given more than $4 million in support of a clinical care building that will house the new institute.
"As people live longer, Parkinson's disease is rapidly becoming a critical health issue, with more than a million Americans expected to be living with the disease by next year," said Lee Fixel. "We believe it is essential to invest in innovative research to develop groundbreaking treatments with the goal of curbing this debilitating illness. We hope that our gift, along with extensive efforts at the University of Florida, will cement UF Health's position as the preeminent destination for patient care, research, and technological innovation for neurodegenerative diseases."