UT Southwestern establishes Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute

DALLAS – May 14, 2015 – The University of Texas System Board of Regents approved the establishment of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute at UT Southwestern Medical Center, a recognized leader in neuroscience. A $36 million gift from the O’Donnell Foundation enabled UT Southwestern to create this new Institute.

Edith and Peter O’Donnell Jr.
Edith and Peter O’Donnell Jr.

The Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute at UT Southwestern will be a comprehensive center dedicated to better understanding the basic molecular workings of the brain and applying these discoveries to the prevention and treatment of brain diseases and injuries. 

The Institute will support the recruitment of world leaders in science and medicine. Already, Dr. Marc Diamond, who was recently recruited from Washington University in St. Louis to be Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics at UT Southwestern, and his team, who joined in his move to Dallas, are rapidly advancing basic knowledge of debilitating brain diseases.

Simultaneously, UT Southwestern, through new investments in advanced technology and multidisciplinary clinical programs, is positioning Zale Lipshy University Hospital to provide excellent care for patients with brain disorders, ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to Parkinson’s and ALS, concussions, stroke, epilepsy, brain tumors, and other psychiatric illnesses. “The Institute will serve as the umbrella to bring together the Medical Center’s historic advances in basic research and therapeutic care,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern.

“The support of the O’Donnell Foundation recognizes that one of the greatest challenges of our time is brain injury in its various forms. The gift enables UT Southwestern to accelerate progress in injury prevention, novel brain preservation strategies, and restoring brain function lost by injury and disease,” said Dr. Podolsky, who holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.

“UT Southwestern draws exceptionally talented investigators to a highly collaborative, technically sophisticated environment. These investigators have consistently made groundbreaking discoveries in medicine, and now, thanks to the incredible generosity of the O’Donnell Foundation, they will be positioned to make even more dramatic advances throughout the entire realm of neuroscience,” Dr. Podolsky said.

“UT Southwestern’s enormous talent in neuroscience and neurotechnology provides an important opportunity to invest in this critical field,” said Peter O’Donnell Jr. “The medical school consistently tackles some of the most difficult scientific challenges with enormous success, benefitting patients today and patients for generations to come. I have every confidence that the field of neuroscience will make great strides at UT Southwestern. I look forward to seeing the next discoveries that are made, and meeting the next extraordinary scientists and researchers who will be recruited to the Brain Institute.” 

Peter and Edith O’Donnell believe that talent is the driving force that has helped build a great medical school in Dallas and that talent will build it even further in the future. The O’Donnell Foundation has supported some of the most important research undertaken at UT Southwestern. In the 1980s the O’Donnell Foundation provided funds to support the research of Drs. Joseph Goldstein and Michael Brown. Today, the foundation continues to support the work of all six Nobel Laureates and the many members of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine at the medical school. The O’Donnell Foundation also created the Endowed Scholars in Medical Science to help ensure financial support for UTSW to train and mentor the next generation of medical scientists.

The new Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute will further UT Southwestern’s well-established foothold in neuroscience, including both basic and translational science, as well as clinical care, supported by its unique expertise in affiliated fields.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty includes many distinguished members, including six who have been awarded Nobel Prizes since 1985. The faculty of more than 2,700 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in 40 specialties to about 92,000 hospitalized patients and oversee approximately 2.1 million outpatient visits a year.


Media Contact: Russell Rian

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