A total of $50 million was donated to two Southern California universities to conduct Alzheimer's research into research and a cure.
UC San Diego and the University of Southern California (USC) announced on Monday they had each received $25 million from the Epstein Family Alzheimer’s Research Collaboration.
According to USC, the donors, Daniel and Phyllis Epstein, had a personal connection with the disease, as Dan’s identical twin brother David suffered from Alzheimer's for 15 years before his death.
The Epsteins’ two children also graduated from USC.
“We experienced first-hand the significant challenges that come with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” Dan Epstein said in a statement. “The fact is that there are no viable treatments for this condition, so we are very pleased to catalyze moving Alzheimer’s research ahead and hopefully achieving something noteworthy in the not-too-distant future.”
University officials said the funding will build on existing research and spark collaborative efforts between the universities to search for effective therapies for Alzheimer’s disease. There are over 6 million people in the United States who are affected by Alzheimer's.
“With the extraordinary talent at USC and UC San Diego, it seemed as though we could take one plus one and make it three with this collaboration,” said Epstein. “When researchers are interacting and sharing ideas, it can lead to new solutions that they might not have originally thought about. When two stellar universities are working together to achieve the same goal, great things will come out of it.”
According to USC, experts in the field believe diagnoses could double by 2060 absent a breakthrough in research into preventions and cures. University officials say that the money will help shorten the time between study design, patient recruitment, and clinical trials, in the hopes of expediting potential discoveries.
UC San Diego will use the money to drive research led by its Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study, which is led by Howard Feldman, dean of Alzheimer’s Disease Research and professor of neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine and a neurologist.
Funding will be allocated for research in gene therapy and a “powder for pennies” program, which is designated to expedite the testing of existing or repurposed drugs and natural products for its treatment.
“With this extraordinary gift, Dan and Phyllis Epstein are making a dramatic investment in a better future for perhaps millions of Americans coping with Alzheimer’s disease and those at risk of developing the disease in the years to come. By establishing this visionary collaboration between USC and UC San Diego, the Epsteins are forging a bond between two Alzheimer’s research powerhouses that has the potential to transform the landscape of treatment for this devastating disease,” USC President Carol Folt and UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla said in a joint statement.
The Epstein Family Foundation also challenged USC and UC San Diego to raise donations to match the $50 million and double the funding.