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$650 million commitment to Stanley Center at Broad Institute aims to galvanize mental illness research
Date:7/22/2014

in college. The first few years were difficult, but Jonathan overcame his illness with the help of lithium, a landmark drug first used to treat patients with mental illness in 1949. Now a successful attorney, Jonathan is also a founding board member of the Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reforming laws that affect persons with a mental illness, and an advocate for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Although lithium helped give Jonathan a normal life, other patients who suffer from mental illness have not been as fortunate. Hoping to help these patients, Ted and Vada Stanley went on to found the Stanley Medical Research Institute in 1989, aimed at finding treatments that would be as effective for others as lithium has been for their son.

When Edward Scolnick met the Stanleys, he had had a stellar career, first in cancer research in the 1970s and then as one of the most respected scientists in the pharmaceutical industry. As president of Merck Research Laboratories, Scolnick led the development of the first drugs to effectively combat HIV; the first drugs to effectively treat high cholesterol, statins; the first vaccine against cervical cancer; and many other breakthroughs. Instead of retiring, Scolnick took on a new challenge – he moved to the Broad Institute to tackle mental illness because he had a deep personal interest in the field. Early in his career, Scolnick had helped launch a revolution in cancer research based on the discovery of the first cancer genes. He wanted to set psychiatric research on the same path.

Scolnick vividly remembers the moment he and the Stanleys joined forces. He told them, "If you want to get at the molecular pathogenesis of these disorders, you've got to crack the genetics. That's what has held this field back for so long."

The Stanleys had given many small grants to support psychiatric research through
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SOURCE Broad Institute
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