Weill Cornell Medical College sets up new Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute

Published on April 9, 2013 at 6:01 AM · No Comments

Neuroscientist Dr. Costantino Iadecola to lead the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute designed to rapidly translate neurological research discoveries from the laboratory to the patient's bedside

Weill Cornell Medical College has established the new Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute, a unique, multidisciplinary translational neuroscience research hub. Named in honor of long-time benefactors Gertrude and Louis Feil, the institute was created with a generous $28 million gift from the Feil Family.

Dr. Costantino Iadecola, a leading neuroscientist in the field of cerebrovascular diseases, stroke and dementia, will direct the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute. Dr. Iadecola also serves as the Anne Parrish Titzell Professor of Neurology at Weill Cornell and as a neurologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Designed to rapidly accelerate the translation of breakthrough research discoveries from the laboratory to the neurological patient's bedside, the institute's goal is to develop the most advanced personalized therapeutic solutions for patients with devastating brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, stroke and multiple sclerosis. A cornerstone of the new Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute will be the research activities of the Appel Alzheimer's Disease Research Institute at Weill Cornell.

The new institute will conduct bench-to-bedside research to develop novel therapeutics for neurological diseases to be tested in cutting-edge clinical trials, as well as bedside-to-bench investigations to enhance current treatments and to truly bridge the current gap in translational medicine. Central to the institute's mission is the use and development of innovative preventive and diagnostic tools, leveraging advances in neuroimaging, genetics, genomics, epigenetics, metabolomics, computational biology and bioinformatics technology, as well as biomarkers for early disease detection and intervention. In addition, new preventive strategies will be developed to identify how individual risk factors may increase brain disease risk, and by studying the impact that comorbidities, such as hypertension and metabolic diseases, have on brain health.

"By establishing this institute, the Feils continue to demonstrate their incredible commitment to medical research and to our institution," says Sanford I. Weill, chairman of the Board of Overseers at Weill Cornell. "The Feil Family's new gift furthers their dedication to improving brain health for future generations."

The Feil gift will allow for the recruitment of four to six top-tier neuroscientists; state-of-the-art equipment; training scholarships for postdocs, fellows and clinicians; scholarships for medical students; and more.

"We are honored to support such an important endeavor," says Jeffrey Feil, a member of the Weill Cornell Board of Overseers. "There has never been a more critical time to advance research in neuroscience and neurodegenerative disease, and this institute is key to keeping Weill Cornell on the frontlines."

"Thanks to the Feil Family, Weill Cornell is leading the way with translational medicine research discoveries that will make a difference in the lives of patients," says Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College. "This institute serves as a model for the future of biomedicine, breaking down barriers to the innovative discovery of vital solutions for the prevention and treatment of devastating brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's and stroke."

The comprehensive, multidisciplinary institute brings together leading experts in neuroscience, neurology, neurological surgery, psychiatry, radiology and geriatrics, among others, to expand Weill Cornell's translational neuroscience research capabilities and neurological clinical care. The institute's director, Dr. Iadecola, will work hand-in-hand with a team of leading physician-scientists, including Dr. Matthew E. Fink, chairman of neurology at Weill Cornell and neurologist-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell. The institute will be headquartered in the new Belfer Research Building, a focal point for disease-oriented research at Weill Cornell, set to open at the end of 2013.

Research at the institute will focus on neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS), stroke and vascular dementia. Also, researchers will investigate brain developmental disorders, pain, addiction and neuroimmunological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis. Related efforts will expand understanding of the neurobiological substrates of learning and memory, as well as disorders of consciousness including coma, persistent vegetative state and the minimally conscious state.

For more than three decades, the entire Feil Family has championed research, education and patient care at Weill Cornell with generous gifts of more than $75 million. Their philanthropic legacy has supported student scholarships, physician training in neurology and other disciplines, two professorship endowments (one in medicine and another in neurology), two Clinical Scholar Awards in multiple sclerosis and established the Weill Greenberg Center's Judith Jaffe Multiple Sclerosis Clinical Unit. In 2010, the Gertrude and Louis Feil Building on East 61st Street was named in honor of the family's longstanding support for advancing research.

"There is a rising tidal wave of age-related brain diseases striking our maturing population, especially the 77 million Baby Boomers who will all need care for age-related brain diseases at the same time," says Dr. Iadecola. "Brain and mind diseases are a growing health challenge worldwide and a major contributor to loss of life and severe disability. By bridging the translational bench-to-bedside gap, the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute promises to have a transformative impact on current care paradigms and change the landscape of neuroscience medicine."

The institute will also recruit leaders in the field of neuroscience and serve as a mentoring center for early career faculty and mid-career clinical and basic neuroscientists. It will train medical students, fellows and residents to be the future generation of physician-scientists in translational medicine. The Leon Levy Foundation has already generously awarded a $1.5 million grant for training and development of future translational neuroscientists at the institute.

"Quality of life depends on brain health," says Dr. Iadecola. "We intend to take the vital steps to chart new paths to prevent neurological diseases and minimize their devastating impact on patients' lives. Thanks to the generosity and foresight of the Feil Family, Weill Cornell is now in a position to take on this big challenge and realize our vision."

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