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Graham Family Gift Provides Long Horizon for Neuroscience Research

October 5, 2016 Print

“In my 20s, I was treated for alcoholism and depression at McLean,” says Stephen Graham, a professor of Victorian Studies at Bard College and member of the McLean National Council. “The staff there saved my life, and for that I have a deep debt of gratitude.” Several family members also have been patients at McLean, he adds. “The Graham family is well disposed toward McLean. It’s a great hospital.”

In 2014, Graham, who is the son of the late, legendary Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, pledged $1 million to support basic neuroscience research by creating the Graham Family Endowed Fund. His donation also includes individual grants to support the current work of McLean investigators.

Darrick Balu, PhD
Researcher Darrick Balu, PhD, in his lab

Darrick T. Balu, PhD, a schizophrenia researcher whose work is geared toward discoveries leading to antipsychotic medications that better manage symptoms of the disease with fewer side effects (see “Rappaport Fellowship”), is one of those investigators. Each year, the majority of Graham’s pledge payment goes into the endowed fund and a smaller portion is available for President and Psychiatrist in Chief Scott L. Rauch, MD, to direct to compelling studies like Balu’s within the confines of neuroscience research. The combination of the long-term investment together with a portion earmarked for current use is an invaluable method of supporting a robust research enterprise such as McLean’s.

“Endowments are a wonderful form of philanthropy because they provide a long horizon of income to support an enduring need,” says Rauch. “We are so grateful to Stephen for this lasting and generous gift.”

Graham said that as a professor of literature, he has a layman’s interest in neuroscience and is particularly intrigued by how the brain processes language and visual input. And like many people, as he gets older, he thinks more and more about his own aging brain. “Like most gifts, my donation to McLean has some self-interest involved,” he says. “Perhaps McLean researchers will learn how to stave off dementia.”