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Barrow Neurological Foundation raises record-breaking $54 million in 2021 fiscal year.

August 24, 2021

Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, Barrow Neurological Foundation concluded its 2021 fiscal year (July–June) setting a record high in fundraising with an unprecedented $54 million in gifts from generous donors, of which, another record-setting $8.5 million was raised by the Women’s Board of Barrow Neurological Foundation as part of the 2021 Barrow Grand Ball. A transformational gift from the Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation will go toward the expansion of the Ivy Brain Tumor Center at Barrow Neurological Institute.

The Foundation distributed over $28 million to Barrow Neurological Institute to support its mission to save lives through innovative treatment and groundbreaking research, as well as training the next generation of the world’s leading neuroclinicians and neurosurgeons.

This distribution includes over $21 million designated by donors for specific purposes, including the Lonnie and Muhammad Ali Legacy Care Program, Jan & Tom Lewis Migraine Treatment Program, Petznick Stroke Center, Barrow Innovation Center, and Barrow Brainbook, a web-based learning tool developed specifically for high school athletes to provide information on how to prevent, recognize, and respond to concussions.

Another $5 million in funding was directed to support research at the Institute, including startup funds for new researchers and 24 potentially life-saving and life-changing projects, which were selected through a competitive review process. In addition, $1.7 million in endowments was distributed.

“Every day, the innovative clinicians and scientists of Barrow Neurological Institute challenge accepted norms and constantly strive to find cures that will save lives,” said Katie Cobb, President of Barrow Neurological Foundation. “Our donors are the fuel for this success, and it is an honor to be able to bridge our donors’ unprecedented generosity in a pandemic to the passionate commitment of the physicians, researchers, and staff at Barrow.”

The 24 research projects that received funding in the 2021 fiscal year addressed a broad range of neurological conditions. Among these groundbreaking projects were the following.

Jinglu Ai, MD, PhD, an associate professor of neurobiology in the Barrow Aneurysm and AVM Research Center, investigated the protective effects of phytoestrogens (plant-based, diet-derived compounds) against aneurysm formation and rupture in postmenopausal women. The results of the study, which used a mouse model, showed that the phytoestrogen they used did protect against aneurysm formation and rupture. Dr. Ai’s work will be published in the prestigious scientific journal, Stroke.

Lea Alhilali, MD, a Barrow neuroradiologist, created a new test to accurately diagnose patients who suffer from persistent headaches, but present atypical symptoms and show no evidence of spinal fluid leak on medical imaging. This innovative test will not only help to correctly diagnose these patients, but also will save them from having to undergo more invasive procedures looking for spinal fluid leaks.

Rita Sattler, MSc, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Translational Neuroscience, focused on discovering a new therapeutic intervention for frontotemporal dementia (FTD). FTD is one of the major causes of dementia in adults under the age of 65 and can cause substantial changes in behavior, language, and personality. This study has the potential to significantly improve clinical care and outcomes for people with FTD and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Ram Narayan, MD, a neurologist in the Multiple Sclerosis Program and an assistant professor of neurology, worked on developing a driving simulator-based training that will improve information processing speed and driving performance in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), greatly improving their quality of life. Approximately 50% of current MS patients show a decline in information processing speed, a cognitive function crucial to driving.

“I’m grateful that the Foundation recognizes the groundbreaking research we’re doing as we continue to push boundaries and make the impossible possible,” said Michael T. Lawton, MD, President and CEO of Barrow Neurological Institute. “But more importantly, this support reflects the community’s commitment to Barrow and the understanding that our work benefits this community and extends out to the entire world.”

After a record-setting 2021 fiscal year, the Foundation is looking toward another successful year, with the opening this fall of the Barrow Neuroplex, a five-story,122,000-square-foot building, which will be the new grand entrance to the Institute, as well as the recently announced expansion of the Ivy Brain Tumor Center at Barrow Neurological Institute to a new five-story, 75,000-square-foot building that will represent the first and largest translational research center dedicated to brain tumor drug development in the world.

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