The largest private donation for psychiatric research — $650 million — has been given to the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Broad Institute by philanthropist and businessman Ted Stanley.
Stanley, who made his fortune heading a company that markets and sells collectibles, was moved to support mental health research after his son, Jonathan, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in college. He was treated with lithium and is now a successful lawyer.
“Essentially, it gave him the ability to have a normal life with a normal functioning brain,” Stanley told The Boston Globe. “If I had had the same downfall at the same age that he had, I would have had my life ruined . . . because in between when I was that age and he was that age, someone had discovered that lithium makes people well when they have that illness.”
The Stanley Medical Research Institute had previously given the Broad a $175 million gift. The $650 million gift will not be given at once, but in annual payments with more after Stanley’s death.
Broad researchers contributed to the recent publication in Nature of the largest genomic study of schizophrenia. That study could lead to new treatments that target the molecular causes of the disease.
The Broad Institute, a biomedical research juggernaut in Cambridge, has received the biggest gift worldwide for psychiatric research, a $650 million commitment that could help scientists unravel the genetic underpinnings of diseases such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and begin to develop better treatments.