AS THE AGING POPULATION GROWS IN FLORIDA AND THE NATION, more people than ever are coping with the gradual loss of function associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and ALS.
eanwhile, at the other end of the lifespan, more children are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Over the last decade, the University of Florida and UF Health have risen to prominence as leaders nationwide in the realm of neuroscience and the brain. Our expert translational laboratory researchers and physician-scientists are publishing groundbreaking advances, attracting patients from across the U.S. and beyond and driving investments both public and private. In fact, National Institutes of Health funding for UF neuroscience and neurology doubled over the last 10 years. We are positioned to help change the outlook for millions of people diagnosed with horrible diseases such as brain cancer and ALS.
Now, major private gifts in 2019 are catalyzing spectacular growth that I believe will help propel UF into the Top 5 of public universities nationwide. A $20 million gift from the Lauren and Lee Fixel Family Foundation in January — and a UF commitment to match it — already has led to the opening of the new, world-class Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases at UF Health in July and the recruitment of three renowned neuroscientists and a distinguished physician-scientist from top U.S. and Canadian institutions (read more about our new hires). And in February, a $12 million gift from Harris Rosen and The Harris Rosen Foundation was announced to support the new UF Health-led ReMission Alliance Against Brain Tumors, a network of experts from UF and top peer institutions from around the world pursuing new lines of research and clinical trials to make brain cancer a livable disease. What’s more, with donor support, we are developing a new clinical care model involving a multidisciplinary approach to treat children with autism.
In addition to these transformative gifts, contributions by UF under the university’s exciting new “moonshot” initiative will fund a series of projects bolstering our research in brain tumors, movement disorders and autism, among other areas. We are thinking broadly across all areas of the brain and neurologic diseases and developing a coordinated approach to drug discovery, improvement of clinical care and implementation of gene therapy: UF Health is making an all-out war on neurologic disease.
Together, I believe these public and private investments will take UF to the next level. We will recruit more translational researchers, open more clinical trials, train more fellows committed to discovery and, through these efforts, change the course of disease. And we will change lives for the better.