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

their foundation, but Scolnick argued for the importance of critical mass – and asked them to contribute $10 million to launch a program at the Broad Institute. Ted Stanley agreed, and after clear initial progress called Scolnick back with a new proposal: "Let's do something bigger. How about we give you $100 million over ten years?" Thus, the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad was launched in 2007, with Scolnick as its founding director.

The third player was Steven Hyman, who at the time was provost at Harvard University. Before taking that post, Hyman, a psychiatrist, had served as head of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) from 1996 to 2001. (Scolnick served as a member of Hyman's National Advisory Mental Health Council from 1998 to 2002, and Lander served as a member of the NIMH's Genetics Workgroup, and the three had developed a mutual respect and a shared vision for what was needed in the field.) As director, Hyman led the NIMH to invest in both neuroscience and genetics, and, along with Scolnick and Lander, supported the collection of DNA samples from patients, with the hope that the samples could someday be analyzed to find disease genes. But progress was slow, partly because the Human Genome Project had not yet been completed. When Hyman left the NIMH in 2001 to become provost of Harvard University, he had almost completely lost hope that true progress could be made in his lifetime in elucidating the mechanisms of psychiatric illness.

Hyman helped launch the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in 2004 and, over time, became encouraged by the Broad's progress in the molecular understanding of psychiatric disorders. After nine years as Harvard Provost, he joined the Broad and then became the director of the Stanley Center in 2012.

"Ten years ago, finding the biological causes of psychiatric disorders was like trying to climb a wall with no footh
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SOURCE Broad Institute
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