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Bill and Carolyn Franke Invest $21 Million to Establish the Franke Global Neuroscience Education Center at Barrow

November 9, 2021

The $21 million endowment will strengthen neuroscience education through international and national education outreach programs.

PHOENIX, AZ (November 9, 2021) – Barrow Neurological Foundation announces that after a long friendship with leaders at Barrow Neurological Institute and a shared passion for science and education, Bill and Carolyn Franke have created a $21 million endowment to fund educational programs at Barrow. This groundbreaking educational endowment includes $18.9 million for international programs and $2.5 million for undergraduate research programs. In recognition of the Franke’s generosity, Barrow will establish the Franke Global Neuroscience Education Center for its international and national education outreach programs.

“Carolyn and I believe education is vital to the advancement of life-saving care for patients with devastating neurological conditions. The Franke Global Neuroscience Education Center will allow Barrow to expand its international and undergraduate educational programs and to develop a legacy of learning that will have a global impact. We are pleased to be the catalyst of this effort,” said Bill Franke. 

During his business career, Mr. Franke has been the CEO of an Industrial Fortune 500 forest products company, Chairman of a large regional bank, Chairman of a large U.S. convenience store company, and CEO of America West Airlines (now integrated into American Airlines). He has served as the founding Chairman of Airplanes Group, Ltd., a $5 billion aircraft finance vehicle created from the aircraft portfolio of GPA Group plc., the Irish aircraft leasing company. He was also the founding Chairman of Tiger Airways (Singapore) and served as Chairman of Spirit Airlines (U.S.). He has served and chaired on several public company boards of directors in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America.

Currently, Mr. Franke is the Managing Partner at Indigo Partners LLC, and serves as Chairman of Wizz Air (Hungary), Frontier Airlines (U.S.), JetSMART Airlines (Chile and Argentina), a start-up Canadian airline, and APiJET, an airline flight management software company. He is a director of Volaris (Mexico) and is an advisor to Cebu Pacific Airlines (Philippines).

Mr. Franke has undergraduate and graduate degrees from Stanford University and holds an honorary PhD from Northern Arizona University and the University of Montana. He and his family are major financial supporters of education, including Northern Arizona University, the University of Montana, the University of Arizona, the Mayo Clinic Medical School of Arizona, Stanford University and Law School, and now, Barrow Neurological Institute. Mr. Franke and his wife, Carolyn, split their time between Paradise Valley, Arizona; Bigfork, Montana; and Houston, Texas.

The Franke Global Neuroscience Education Center will comprise two main sectors: Barrow International Programs and Barrow Undergraduate Research Programs.

“A vital part of the mission of Barrow Neurological Institute is teaching and training the next generation of the world’s leading neurosurgeons, neurologists, and neuroscientists. The transformational gift from the Franke’s will enable us to fulfill this mission and has the potential to impact patients and providers from around the world for years to come,” said Michael T. Lawton, MD, President and CEO of Barrow Neurological Institute.

The International Programs endowment will allow Barrow to formalize its international education program to recruit doctors from developing countries to train with our renowned neurosurgeons and neuroclinicians. These doctors will then take what they learned back to their home countries to treat patients from significantly underserved populations.

Barrow International Programs will be led by F. David Barranco, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Barrow Neurological Institute, and Dilantha Ellegala, MD. “The Franke’s gift to establish Barrow International Programs allows us to extend the unsurpassed care found at Barrow to patients across the globe, while educating the best and brightest,” said Dr. Barranco.

Key elements of Barrow International Programs include:

  • International clinical observers
  • International Spine Research Fellowship
  • International Neurosurgery Research Fellowship
  • International Endovascular Clinical Fellowship
  • International outreach mission experiences

The Undergraduate Research endowment will allow Barrow to introduce brilliant young minds to career opportunities in neuroscience and provide them access to world-renowned physicians, scientists, and surgeons, regardless of their socioeconomic background or geographic provenance. The program will focus on underrepresented groups in health-related science, in addition to serving individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, including, but not exclusive to, individuals in the foster care system and first-generation college students.

Barrow Undergraduate Research Programs will be led by Rita Sattler, MSc, PhD, Professor of Translational Neuroscience. “The support from the Franke’s will connect us with more underserved students in the community and worldwide, allowing us to provide them with a unique and rewarding educational experience that they would not have otherwise had,” said Dr. Sattler.  

Key elements of Barrow Undergraduate Research Programs include:

  • Student scholarships, to eliminate roadblocks to participation
  • Principle investigator stipends, to provide accommodations for students in labs
  • Fund for education, to provide career development and leadership training

“The Franke’s groundbreaking investment in global education will undoubtedly transform the training of the next generation of neurosurgeons,” said Katie Cobb, President of Barrow Neurological Foundation. “Because of the Franke family, Barrow will have the opportunity to expand its global reach, address underserved populations, and through education, save countless lives. Their generosity, vision, and leadership is truly unprecedented and inspires all of us at Barrow to continue to advance our mission.”

About Barrow Neurological Foundation

Barrow Neurological Foundation raises awareness and funds for patient care, medical education, and research offered at Barrow Neurological Institute. Barrow is an internationally recognized leader in neurology, neurosurgery, and neuroscience research, treating patients with a wide range of conditions, including brain and spinal tumors, neuromuscular diseases, aneurysms, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, Parkinson’s disease, cleft and craniofacial disorders, concussion and brain injuries, and more.     

Click here to make a contribution to Barrow Neurological Foundation.