Stanford Neurosciences Institute Receives Naming Gift

Stanford Neurosciences Institute Receives Naming Gift

Stanford University has announced a gift from alumna Clara Wu Tsai ('88, MA '88) and her husband, Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai, in support of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute.

The lead gift in a campaign that has raised nearly $250 million since 2013 in support of the institute will support efforts to accelerate the pace of discovery with respect to the human brain and advance innovative, interdisciplinary brain science. To that end, the funds will provide support to scale research initiatives; expand resources for faculty, students, and postdocs; and complete an interdisciplinary research complex where scientists from across campus can meet and collaborate. In recognition of the gift, the institute will be renamed the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute.

Clara Wu Tsai, who served on a presidential task force that helped shape the Stanford Neurosciences Institute and the Stanford ChEM-H (Chemistry, Engineering & Medicine for Human Health) institute, said the concentration of experts from many fields on one campus and the university's ability to harness that collective knowledge were key factors in the couple's decision to invest.

"Joe and I believe Stanford is uniquely positioned to drive breakthrough discoveries about the brain, translate them into effective therapies, and train future scientists of the world," said Wu Tsai, who received an MBA from Harvard, has worked as an executive at American Express and online Chinese shopping site Taobao, and now serves on the advisory council that helps guide university institutes focused on the interdisciplinary life sciences and co-chairs the advisory cabinet for the neurosciences institute. "Ultimately, we hope the research undertaken at the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute will lead to cures and treatments that impact millions of people by prolonging their lives and making them more fulfilling and productive."

"Technologies invented in the last decade are making it possible for neuroscientists to acquire new kinds of information about the brain that, until recently, was the stuff of scientists' dreams," said institute director William Newsome, the Vincent V.C. Woo Director and Harman Family Provostial Professor. "The sequencing of the human genome, new imaging techniques, optogenetics, discoveries in nanoscience and physics — all of these advances are providing critical insights into our minds and ourselves. Clara and Joe's generous gift will help us get closer to a world where we can effectively diagnose and treat brain injury, diseases, and disorders, as well as enhance brain functions to improve lives."