A pair of philanthropists from Bellevue have given $50 million to UW Medicine to create an institute focused on developing treatments for brain disorders such as addiction, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
The money, donated by Lynn and Mike Garvey, will kickstart the development of the Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions.
This will be the second neuroscience-focused institute in Seattle. The Allen Institute for Brain Science examines how the brain works, while the new Garvey Institute will take a more clinical approach to brain health. The work done at each could mesh nicely together, said Dr. Jürgen Unützer, a professor and chair of UW’s psychiatry and behavioral sciences department, which will be home to the Garvey Institute.
“The Garvey Institute is a great addition to Seattle’s growing life science community,” said Dr. Allan Jones, president, and CEO of the Allen Institute. “Their focus on developing new treatments will be a great complement to the work we’re doing to answer foundational questions about the brain: what are the various types of cells in the brain, how are they wired together and how do they process information? There is still much to be discovered on all fronts.”
Garvey Institute researchers will build on work already being done at UW Medicine, and will also partner with scientists from within the University of Washington and other local health systems, Unützer said.
“The goal is not only to develop brain solutions but to get them quickly put into practice,” he said in an interview Wednesday.
In addition to clinical research on treatments for brain disorders, the money will also fund training efforts for scientists and researchers from different disciplines at the institute, as well as a place for them to work together.
“These new programs will change the future of mental health and brain health in our region and beyond,” Unützer said in a news release announcing the donation.
In its first five years, the Garvey Institute will focus on three main areas: cognitive aging and brain wellness, the effects of physical and emotional trauma on the brain, and addiction.
“At some point, almost every family is affected by a brain-health problem such as depression, Alzheimer’s disease or addiction,” Lynn Garvey said in the news release. “These diseases are so common and so devastating, and we wanted to do something to help.”
The Garveys, who declined to be interviewed, have previously donated money to UW Medicine’s Institute of Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, the psychiatry and behavioral sciences department, Harborview Medical Center, and the heart regeneration and gastroenterology programs.