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Philanthropy: Funding McLean’s future

April 29, 2015 Print

Philanthropy takes many forms, and gifts of all sizes can nurture the full breadth of McLean’s mission. Sometimes, philanthropic giving transcends both time and the need to create something special, having a lasting impact on the hospital, as well as on people and families living with mental illness.

Francine Benes, MD, PhD
Francine Benes, MD, PhD, holds the William P. and Henry B. Test Professorship in Psychiatry in the Field of Neuroscience

Donald and Charlotte Test are one couple whose generous gifts have amplified McLean’s work through a variety of channels for more than two decades. The Tests’ 22-year relationship with the hospital is nothing short of inspirational. In 1993, they established a $1 million endowment to support schizophrenia research. In 2007, they created the William P. and Henry B. Test Professorship in Psychiatry in the Field of Neuroscience with a gift of $3.3 million that installed Francine Benes, MD, PhD, as the inaugural incumbent.

These gifts not only fueled new research into psychotic disorders but also expanded McLean’s researchers’ understanding of these disorders’ underlying neurobiology and the role of genes in the development of these conditions.

“The Tests’ contributions have allowed us to take the critical steps necessary to bring two lines of research together,” said Benes, who has been leading groundbreaking studies at McLean on abnormalities in the neural circuitry of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder for more than three decades. “As a result, we have developed a comprehensive model to study how a specific piece of brain circuitry might be malfunctioning in individuals living with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.”

While the Tests have never sought publicity, by embracing named opportunities such as the Test Professorship, they serve as role models for reducing the stigma that has long accompanied the cause of psychiatry and mental health.

In May 2014, the Tests further demonstrated their unique approach as donors when they made an $8.5 million unrestricted gift—half of which is an endowment—to support McLean’s broader mission of improving the lives of people and families affected by psychiatric illness through clinical care, research, training, and education programs.

“The generosity of the Test family has had and will continue to have a profound positive impact on McLean and all those whom we serve,” said Scott L. Rauch, MD, president and psychiatrist in chief. “By providing this tremendous scale of support through a combination of endowments and unrestricted gifts, to enable flexible use across the broad needs of the hospital, they have strengthened our capacity to meet McLean’s mission most effectively, now and in perpetuity.”