Grant extends funding for the Broad’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research

The Stanley Medical Research Institute announces $50M gift

May 17th, 2011 —

Impressed by four years of remarkable progress — including pioneering discoveries of the first genes underlying schizophrenia — the Stanley Medical Research Institute (SMRI) today announced that it will make a $50 million gift to support the Broad Institute’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research.

Launched in 2007 with a ten-year, $100 million grant from the SMRI, the Stanley Center brings together scientists from diverse fields to unlock the genetic mysteries of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses, and translate these findings into new treatments for patients. The newly announced grant will provide $10 million per year in funding for an additional five years, making the Stanley Center a fixture in the biomedical landscape for many years to come.

“The renewed support of the Stanley Medical Research Institute underscores the remarkable progress we have made in just a few short years in unraveling the genetics of psychiatric illnesses,” said Edward Scolnick, director of the Stanley Center and a core faculty member of the Broad Institute. “I am deeply grateful for their sustained support, which has catalyzed our work in countless ways.”

In the United States alone, more than 8 million people suffer from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. These illnesses tend to run in families, suggesting that they are influenced by genetic factors. Researchers in the Stanley Center are working to unearth the genetic underpinnings of psychiatric disease to pave the way toward better treatment options for patients.

“We are thrilled by the remarkable results flowing from the Stanley Center, which are laying bare the biological roots of psychiatric illnesses,” said Ted Stanley, founder of the SMRI. “We are delighted that we can help enable even further progress through our continued support.”

Over the last five years, researchers around the world have developed new tools and methods that have the potential to dramatically change the field of psychiatric research. With new genetic methods, tools for studying the brain’s circuitry, and ways to grow cells in culture that accurately mimic living cells in the brain, the Broad’s Stanley Center researchers can now bring these remarkable tools to bear on schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, as well as other psychiatric illnesses.

“It’s really a new world and it’s just starting,” said Scolnick. “All of this has happened in the last few years. What’s different in the field now is it’s no longer stuck. A few years ago, no matter what you wanted to do, you didn’t have a way of approaching these illnesses experimentally. And now you do.”

Already, the Broad’s Stanley Center and its partner institutions have uncovered several genes that confer risk of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia and have even found that these two diseases share common risk genes. Additionally, the researchers have revealed important biological pathways — or chains of molecular events — tied to the development of schizophrenia, which could lead to better treatment approaches. The new funding from the SMRI will provide sustained support for this kind of transformative research through early 2022.

“The Stanley Center brings together scientists with different areas of expertise to work together toward a common goal: uncovering the molecular mechanisms of mental illness to bring about better treatment,” said Eric S. Lander, director of the Broad Institute. “Genomic tools are accelerating the pace of discovery in psychiatric disease research and the additional support of the Stanley Medical Research Institute ensures that this progress will continue for many years to come.”

About the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT
The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT was launched in 2004 to empower this generation of creative scientists to transform medicine. The Broad Institute seeks to describe all the molecular components of life and their connections; discover the molecular basis of major human diseases; develop effective new approaches to diagnostics and therapeutics; and disseminate discoveries, tools, methods and data openly to the entire scientific community.

Founded by MIT, Harvard and its affiliated hospitals, and the visionary Los Angeles philanthropists Eli and Edythe L. Broad, the Broad Institute includes faculty, professional staff and students from throughout the MIT and Harvard biomedical research communities and beyond, with collaborations spanning over a hundred private and public institutions in more than 40 countries worldwide. For further information about the Broad Institute, go to http://www.broadinstitute.org.

About the Stanley Medical Research Institute
The Stanley Medical Research Institute (SMRI) is the world’s largest private source of funding for research into causes and treatments of serious mental illnesses. With assets of over $200 million, it was founded in 1988 and is funded by contributions from Ted and Vada Stanley of New Canaan, CT. Mr. Stanley, 80, is founder of MBI, Inc., Norwalk, CT, a direct marketer of jewelry, leather-bound books, and collectible products.

For further information about the Stanley Institute, go to http://www.stanleyresearch.org/.