The University of California, San Francisco and University of California, Berkeley have announced a $20 million gift from investor Charles R. Schwab to establish a multidisciplinary alliance aimed at advancing understanding of dyslexia and other neurodevelopmental differences.
The gift will establish the UCSF-UC Berkeley Schwab Dyslexia and Cognitive Diversity Center, which will encompass clinics and research space at both universities and enlist academic and clinical entities in the areas of child and adolescent psychiatry, psychology, neurology, neuroscience, education, and public health to drive research, develop better screening and assessment tools, test new interventions, and help reduce the social stigma surrounding learning disorders.
After struggling with reading and classroom learning as a youngster, the founder and chair of the Charles Schwab Corporation was formally diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 40. Disorders involving reading, mathematics, writing, and other specific cognitive functions affect between 5 percent and 15 percent of school-age children. Recent research has revealed biological correlates of neurodevelopmental syndromes, discoveries that promise new insights into diagnosis, prevention, and treatment.
"To help unveil the mysteries behind dyslexia and other learning challenges, we need to bring together a wide variety of experts in science, medicine, education, and public health," said Schwab. "I'm proud to support this ambitious new center, which will do just that."
"This is truly the most exciting professional endeavor I've ever been involved in, because it exemplifies what we can achieve with interdisciplinary, multi-institution collaboration," said Stephen Hinshaw, a professor at both universities who will serve as co-director of the Schwab Center. "A lack of such ambitious collaborations has been a 'rate-limiting factor' in tackling reading and learning problems, which are major social issues. Now that we're getting the best minds and trainees at UCSF together with the best at UC Berkeley, I think the sky's the limit."