UCSF receives $20M Sandler Foundation gift for neuroscience research and care

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UCSF has received a challenge gift of $20 million from the Sandler Foundation that will provide major support for the university's groundbreaking research and clinical care efforts regarding neurological diseases.

In honor of the extraordinary commitment of Herbert and Marion Sandler and the Sandler Foundation to UCSF and the Department of Neurology, the new neurosciences building, opening this month at the UCSF Mission Bay campus, will be named the Sandler Neurosciences Center. To meet the challenge, the university will endeavor to match the gift dollar-for-dollar with additional donations in support of the facility and programs headquartered in the building.

The Sandler Neurosciences Center signifies a milestone in the evolution of UCSF's world-class neuroscience enterprise. The five-story, 237,000 square foot building will bring under one roof several of the world's leading clinical and basic research programs, providing an environment that encourages a cross-pollination of ideas and collaboration.

The goal of the building is to support UCSF's efforts to find new diagnostics, treatments and cures for a number of intractable neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, migraine, epilepsy, autism and other neurological diseases.

At full capacity, the building will house approximately 100 principal investigators and their research teams, who will use cutting-edge neuroimaging, genetics and other technologies to advance understanding of the brain and neurological diseases. The space itself was designed to support the movement of discoveries from the basic science labs on the top floors of the building to the clinical research space on the first floor.

"For more than two decades, the Sandler Foundation has been one of UCSF's most important partners," said UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH. "Its new investment will bring our pioneering neuroscience research and care to unprecedented levels, giving new hope to patients everywhere."

Combined with its earlier gift of $5 million, the Sandler Foundation's new contribution brings its total support of UCSF's neurological disease initiatives to $25 million. The foundation has contributed more than $100 million to UCSF overall. Other landmark investments have included the Program for Breakthrough Biomedical Research (http://pbbr.ucsf.edu/), a bold program that challenges UCSF scientists to pursue basic science projects that are creative, risky and transformative; Sandler Asthma Basic Research Center (http://sabre.ucsf.edu/), an investigative unit dedicated to basic discovery in asthma research that is supported by advanced technology cores; and the Sandler Center for Drug Discovery, a research effort focused on third world parasitic diseases.

Commenting on the gift, Herbert Sandler noted: "UCSF is a special place. There is no university in the world that can match the quality of its people, the excellence of its basic science research and the unique culture of collaboration that leads to great science. The foundation's gift not only supports a superb new facility, but even more significantly helps ensure that critical investments continue to be made to the world-class scientists and innovative research that are the backbone of UCSF's impact in the world and its outstanding reputation."

Designed by top architecture firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the Sandler Neurosciences Center will house the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, the UCSF Department of Neurology and the W.M. Keck Foundation Center for Integrative Neuroscience at UCSF. It also will host the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, which will relocate there from its current home on the Parnassus campus.

The building is designed to enhance collaboration within the structure and throughout the entire Mission Bay campus. Natural gathering places, such as meeting and break rooms, are located in the center of the building. Office spaces located along the southern curved section of the building create a continuous space. An outdoor courtyard allows researchers to congregate with colleagues from adjacent buildings. And the Sandler Center's proximity to the growing commercial biotechnology hub in Mission Bay provides further opportunities for collaboration.

"What we hope to accomplish in this new building is a bit audacious yet extraordinarily exciting," said UCSF Department of Neurology chair Stephen Hauser, MD. "We can bring together neuroscientists, clinical scientists and clinicians treating patients to understand how a healthy brain works - and what goes wrong when it becomes diseased."

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