A pioneering research institute at Keck Medicine of USC was renamed Oct. 7 to honor a pair of longtime USC supporters, Mark and Mary Stevens, who donated $50 million to further the institute’s study of the human brain.
USC President C. L. Max Nikias, PhD, said the newly renamed USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute brings together USC’s academic strengths in several disciplines in an effort to find answers for the millions who suffer from a neurological condition.
“This is also a day of immense gratitude because of the visionary generosity of USC alum and Trustee, Mark Stevens, and his wife, Mary Matthew Stevens,” said Nikias. “This places USC firmly in a position to accelerate the pace of the most ingenious work in the neurosciences.”
The institute, led by Arthur Toga, PhD, and Paul Thompson, PhD, is comprised of more than 130 faculty and staff with expertise in fields such as neuroscience, engineering, biology, chemistry and pharmacy. It will be housed in a new building named Stevens Hall, which is now under construction at HSC for a 2016 opening. A rendering of the completed building was used as a backdrop during the ceremony.
The institute aims to speed the translation of basic research into new therapies, preventions and cures for brain injury and disease, including Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia and traumatic brain injury.
Keck School of Medicine of USC Dean Carmen A. Puliafito, MD, MBA, lauded the research that Toga and Thompson have already accomplished and said the gift will help accelerate the pace of discovery.
“Their many seminal achievements include being among the first to map the spread of Alzheimer’s disease in the living human brain and the creation of 3- and 4-dimensional brain atlases to examine the effects of neurological diseases,” Puliafito said.
Toga holds the title Provost Professor of Ophthalmology, Neurology, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Radiology and Engineering. The new facility will house the most advanced brain imaging equipment, which, he noted, would change the Keck campus and the field of neuroscience forever.
“I have a bold vision to make our USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute the No. 1 place where the best and brightest researchers come together to innovate and advance brain science,” Toga said.
Thompson, professor of neurology, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, radiology, engineering and ophthalmology, added that the facility will serve as the new hub for the largest imaging studies in the world, bringing together the work of more than 1,000 imaging labs across the globe.
Mark Stevens said he and his wife, Mary, were compelled to give generously because they saw an opportunity to help millions of people, of all ages, who suffer from a range of neurological problems, from learning disabilities to Alzheimer’s disease.
“It is hard to find a family in America that hasn’t been affected by a neurological condition,” said Mark Stevens, who is a member of the USC Board of Trustees and sits on the USC Health System Board. He has also served on the Board of Councilors for the USC Viterbi School of Engineering for 18 years.
“Our gift, hopefully, will help advance understanding of diseases and abnormalities in the brain,” he said.
— Hope Hamashige