Weill Family Foundation Commits $106 Million for Neuroscience Hub

Weill Family Foundation Commits $106 Million for Neuroscience Hub

The University of California, Berkeley, the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Washington have announced a $106 million commitment from the Weill Family Foundation to launch a research network aimed at developing new therapies for neurological and psychiatric disorders and diseases.

To that end, the Weill Neurohub will facilitate collaborations between neuroscientists and researchers working in disciplines such as engineering, computer science, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. The bulk of the funding will support novel cross-institutional projects built on one or more of four scientific "pillars" that Neurohub leaders have deemed priority areas for answering the toughest questions about the brain: imaging, engineering, genomics and molecular therapeutics, and computation and data analytics. In an example of one such collaboration, members of the federally sponsored Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers at UCSF and UW will collaborate with top neurodegeneration researchers at Berkeley.

In partnership with the seventeen national laboratories overseen by the U.S. Department of Energy that specialize in bioengineering, imaging, and data science, the hub also will explore the use of DOE's artificial intelligence and supercomputing capabilities, with the aim of advancing the study of traumatic brain injury and neurodegenerative diseases.

The commitment builds on the work of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, which was established in 2016 with a $185 million gift from the Weill Family Foundation and Sanford I. and Joan Weill.

"The UCSF Weill Institute set out to break down walls between the clinical disciplines of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry and also bring these clinical specialties together with the basic neurosciences," said Weill Institute director Stephen Hauser. "Now, with the Weill Neurohub, we're going even further: eliminating institutional boundaries between three great public research universities and also other disciplinary walls between 'traditional' neuroscience and 'non-traditional' approaches to understanding the brain. By embracing engineering, data analysis, and imaging science at this dramatically higher level — areas in which both Berkeley and the UW are among the best in the world — neuroscientists on all three campuses will gain crucial tools and insights that will bring us closer to our shared goal of reducing suffering from brain diseases."

"The gains in knowledge amassed by neuroscientists over the past few decades can now be brought to the next level with supercomputers, electronic brain–computer interfaces, nanotechnology, robotics, and powerful imaging tools," said Weill Family Foundation chair Sanford I. Weill. "The Neurohub will seize this opportunity by building bridges between people with diverse talents and training and bringing them together in a common cause: discovering new treatments to help the millions of patients with such conditions as Alzheimer's disease and mental illness."

"Weill Neurohub Will Fuel Race to Find New Treatments for Brain Disease." University of California, Berkeley Press Release 11/12/2019.