The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has announced a $25 million challenge gift from the Robert A. and Renee E. Belfer Family Foundation in support of a multi-institutional neurodegenerative disease initiative.
The gift will be used to create the Neurodegeneration Consortium, a collaborative enterprise involving Anderson, the Baylor College of Medicine, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that will work to advance the study of Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases. The gift is contingent, among other conditions, on the participating institutions raising $25 million in matching funds by January 2016. To date, the institutions have raised $6.5 million for the effort.
"The Neurodegeneration Consortium will work to better understand the molecular and genetic basis of neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Alzheimer's disease," said Belfer Family Foundation president Robert A. Belfer. "The aim is to translate research findings into effective targeted drugs and diagnostics for patients while addressing quality of life issues and the financial challenges of treating and living with Alzheimer's and other aging diseases."
To that end, researchers will work to discover and identify key molecular targets, which a drug development team at MD Anderson's Institute for Applied Cancer Science will then translate into viable clinical candidates.
"This gift creates an unprecedented collaboration among scientists and physicians at MD Anderson, Baylor, and MIT," said Huda Y. Zoghbi, M.D., Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine. "It's only through such collaborative effort, bringing together unique and complementary expertise, that we stand to make a difference in neurodegenerative disease. I'm so grateful to the Belfer family for enabling us to form this wonderful consortium."