Stavros Niarchos Foundation expands Health Initiative with partnerships to fight infectious disease and mental illness worldwide

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Stavros Niarchos Foundation expands Health Initiative with partnerships to fight infectious disease and mental illness worldwide

Three major grants totaling over $200 million from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) significantly expand the Foundation’s global Health Initiative, focusing on sharing New York-based expertise around the world to improve access to essential health care.

They support the establishment of new hubs that will work to keep infectious diseases in check, to use genomics to advance our understanding of and treatment for mental health disorders, and to connect young people with the mental health resources they need.

SNF’s ongoing approximately $750 million Health Initiative, which began in Greece, includes the creation of three new hospitals there, an effort to strengthen access to mental health care across the country, as well as the delivery of educational programs for medical professionals, state-of-the-art equipment, and additional health infrastructure. The three new grants carry forward the same essential spirit that has guided the SNF Health Initiative from the beginning: a mission of expanding access to life-changing health care resources, a belief in the importance of sharing expertise across boundaries and borders, and a desire to empower the people who are the bedrock of our systems of care.

“The more we learn about health, the more we learn that everything is connected—physical health to mental health, individual health to global health. This means that our approach to addressing the major health challenges we face today, from pandemics to woefully inadequate access to effective mental health care, must also be a connected one, across disciplines and across borders,” said SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos. “We are proud to partner with Rockefeller, Columbia, and the Child Mind Institute to create these three collaborative hubs that we hope will advance our understanding and promote better health for all, regardless of who you are or where you live.”

The SNF Institute for Infectious Disease Research at The Rockefeller University, established with a $75 million SNF grant, will create a framework for international scientific collaborations that advance basic research, translate it into practical benefits for people, and can respond quickly to pathogens of concern, all under the leadership of Nobel laureate Charles Rice, Chair of New York State’s COVID-19 Clinical Advisory Task Force.

“We are deeply grateful to SNF for its extraordinary generosity in establishing the visionary SNF Institute for Global Infectious Disease Research at Rockefeller,” said Rockefeller University President Richard Lifton. “The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the critical need for investment in infectious disease research to understand the biology of pathogens and their interactions with host species to enable development of broadly effective and durable vaccines and therapeutics. The SNF Institute will accelerate research innovation and provide scientific education and public awareness to the global community. SNF’s response to the pandemic set the standard for humanitarian action in the face of a crisis, and is uniquely suited to partner with Rockefeller in making this vision for global disease research a reality.”

The SNF Center for Precision Psychiatry and Mental Health at Columbia University, launching through a $75 million SNF grant, will catalyze the use of precision medicine, based in genomics, in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of psychiatric disorders to improve individual outcomes and the overall standard of care available.

"The insights provided by genomics and precision medicine are proving of tremendous value in improving people’s health and lives,” said Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger. “Through this new center, our researchers can meet an urgent human need by harnessing precision medicine to promote mental health for all. We are enormously grateful to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for joining with Columbia in meeting this profound scientific and humanitarian challenge.”

The SNF Global Center for Child and Adolescent Mental Health at the Child Mind Institute, founded through a $55 million SNF grant, will seek to dramatically expand access to effective mental health care for children and adolescents worldwide with initiatives to combat three of the greatest barriers that prevent young people around the world from receiving effective mental health care: lack of access to information, insufficient quality of care, and stigma.

“The children’s mental health crisis is the defining public health challenge of the next generation,” said Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, founding president and medical director of the Child Mind Institute. “And the crisis is a global one, which disproportionally impacts marginalized children and families everywhere. The Child Mind Institute is incredibly grateful for the generosity and vision of SNF as we work together to reduce stigma, improve access to care, and transform mental health care for children no matter where they are.”

The new grants build on longstanding and extensive partnerships between SNF and each of the grantee organizations. SNF has already partnered with the Child Mind Institute on the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Initiative, part of the Health Initiative in Greece, which seeks to empower young people and their families with the mental health resources they need to thrive. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation – David Rockefeller River Campus at Rockefeller dramatically expanded campus with state-of-the-art labs for collaborative research, and SNF supported round-the-clock research at the university related to COVID-19 in the earlier days of the pandemic. And the Foundation has been a long-term supporter of public outreach initiatives at Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute.

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