Now Carlezon has been recognized with “a career-defining honor” as the first occupant of the Rappaport endowed chair—one of the highest honors for any leader in academia. “I’m proud to be affiliated with a family that has done so much for so many people,” said Carlezon.
The Rappaports’ gift allows Carlezon to invest in supplementary activities that enrich the center’s research agenda but aren’t typically covered by government grants. Examples include expanding diversity through initiatives like McLean’s Mental Health Research Summer Program and participating in events that bring together psychiatrists and neuroscientists to bridge gaps between research and clinical practice.
“Some of the most productive professional relationships happen when you meet someone at a conference poster session or you’re sitting having lunch together. These chance meetings can result in interesting collaborations and new discoveries that wouldn’t have happened otherwise,” said Carlezon. “This gift will benefit McLean’s neuroscience community in ways that weren’t previously possible.”
In 2000, Phyllis and Jerry established the Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport Mental Health Research Scholars Endowed Fund at McLean. The highly sought-after Rappaport Fellowships are competitive, one-year research grants and recipients are often able to leverage the grants to obtain federal funding to continue their projects.
Since then, they have supported dozens of Rappaport Research Fellows—up-and-coming investigators in the fields of neurology, imaging, and clinical research. The Rappaports’ endowed fellowship now supports three fellows a year, impacting not only the careers of the awardees, but the entire field, according to Carlezon. “These talented young researchers are advancing our understanding of the biological basis of psychiatric illnesses. The Rappaports’ support enables them to pursue new ideas that are higher risk than those that would be funded by the federal government.”
“Over the past 20 years, our partnership with McLean has produced a remarkable number of very talented scientists who have gone on to pursue significant research on schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, addiction, and depression, as well as basic research into neuroscience and the brain,” said Jerry. Added Phyllis: “And many of our Rappaport Fellows have stayed at McLean, contributing to the hospital’s legacy and reputation.”
A Long and Personal Relationship
The Rappaports’ support and confidence in McLean continues to be personal.
“Our contributions to McLean reflect our respect for the critical role that the hospital has played in leading the fight to treat and cure the myriad forms of mental illnesses for all ages and genders,” said Phyllis.
They were founding members of the McLean National Council, which was established in 2002 to help McLean broaden its donor base nationally and thereby grow its resources to enhance McLean’s mission impact, reputation, and reach. They said their gift speaks to their gratitude for the hospital’s treatment of three generations of family members and their confidence in its position as a leader in psychiatric care, research, and education.
“Jerry and Phyllis have been trusted friends and supporters of McLean for two decades,” said Scott L. Rauch, MD, president and psychiatrist in chief. “They have an astute understanding of how vital it is to invest in talented, young investigators in the quest to advance basic neuroscience discoveries more broadly. This insight—backed by their generosity over the years—has been extraordinary. This latest gift is a meaningful way to associate their impact on McLean and basic neuroscience research for generations.”