In recognition of his contributions to the field of neuroscience and understanding the workings of the human brain, Arthur Toga, PhD, has been established as the inaugural holder of the Ghada Irani Chair in Neuroscience.

Toga, Provost Professor of Ophthalmology and director of the USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, was installed as chair at a ceremony held Nov. 17 in conjunction with the opening of the USC Stevens Hall for Neuroimaging on the Health Sciences Campus.

“The Ghada Irani Chair makes a straighter path for the pursuit of world-class, world-changing scholarship in neuroscience,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias, PhD. “It allows USC to work at the level beyond conventional notions of excellence. Indeed, the Ghada Irani Chair further strengthens the foundation of all scholarly excellence at USC, but its most visionary aspect involves its investment in an era of unsurpassed importance to humanity in our century. This chair allows one of the world’s leading scholars, one of the world’s leading professors, to further advance along one of the greatest frontiers of our times.”

Irani is a member of the Keck School of Medicine of USC Board of Overseers and noted humanitarian who serves as chair of UNICEF’s Southern California Regional Board.

“I’m so pleased that Dr. Arthur Toga will be the first Ghada Irani Chair in Neuroscience,” Irani said. “I am delighted that you and your USC team are working to better understand the brain for the benefit of all humankind.”

The Ghada Irani Chair in Neuroscience was endowed as part of a pledge by Irani and her husband, USC Trustee Ray Irani, PhD. Toga will be leading his team in the newly opened USC Stevens Hall, which is named for USC Trustee Mark Stevens and his wife Mary. The building, formerly Raulston Memorial Research Building, was renovated from its original 1952 frame and designed to facilitate the USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute’s world-class research.

“These two gifts have been transformational because they come at an ideal time for our institution,” said Rohit Varma, MD, MPH, dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC and director of the USC Gayle and Edward Roski Eye Institute. “As an institution over the past few years, we have tried to hone in on what kind of research will bring about the greatest good for our patients and neuroscience is certainly an area where we have an enormous need — not just in the U.S. but worldwide. And in that particular sphere, neuroimaging is the key to understanding not just how disease occurs and progresses but also what we can do to prevent it.”

In his remarks during the ceremony, Toga spoke about his plans for using his position as chair to promote up-and-coming neuroscientists, recruit quality students and further the cutting-edge research at the institute.

“Ghada, you’ve given USC and me a tremendous gift today,” Toga said. “Not only is it a surprisingly comfortable chair, it’s a most precious gift because it’s the gift of paying it forward. And I intend on doing the exact same thing, pay it forward.”

— Melissa Masatani