The New York Community Trust's DeWitt Wallace Fund Gives Nearly $70 Million to Advance Psychiatry at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell

With Past Contributions, Gift Is One of Largest in the History of Psychiatry

Mar 23, 2007


The New York Community Trust announced today that it has made a grant of nearly $70 million from its DeWitt Wallace Fund to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center's Department of Psychiatry to improve the understanding and treatment of mental illness through basic and clinical research and training. It is the largest grant ever made from one of The Trust's 1,800 charitable funds and, when coupled with past contributions of $40 million from the Wallace Fund to the Medical Center, is one of the largest private gifts for psychiatric research and patient care in the United States.

DeWitt Wallace was the founder of The Reader's Digest. The Wallace Fund was created in The Trust in 1984 to ensure that psychiatric practice was informed by substantive scientific research, and was designed to terminate after 20 years with a final grant. It is one of a number of funds set up in The Trust by Mr. and Mrs. Wallace in addition to the private Wallace Foundation.

Lorie Slutsky, president of The Trust, said, "With these grants, we've already seen substantial achievements. Studies of brain function and development are helping children learn; research into brain circuitry and collaborative efforts of psychiatry and psychopharmacology are improving the treatment of schizophrenia and other severe disorders; and the training of a cadre of exceptional research scientists and clinicians will bring the next advances in psychiatry. We are delighted that this endowment grant will ensure that the successful synergy continues and builds on its significant successes."

"I want to commend the inspiring leadership of The Trust whose outstanding commitment to furthering the field of psychiatry will help us better understand behavior and mental disorders with the aim of alleviating the burden of illness and aiding treatment," says Dr. Herbert Pardes, president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

"By helping to train a generation of psychiatrists at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell, this extraordinary gift will contribute invaluably to clinical scholarship and education in psychiatry," says Dr. Antonio M. Gotto Jr., dean of Weill Cornell Medical College.

"Going forward, the Wallace gift will fund fellows, instructors, assistant professors and the continued development of more senior scholars," says Dr. Jack Barchas, the Barklie McKee Henry Professor and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Psychiatrist-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. "Additionally, the gift will support core programs and recruitment in and development of unique and innovative academic programs."

Ms. Slutsky also noted the elegant solution to disbursing the Fund's principal. "The money will be held by the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center Fund and advised by a program committee to ensure that the gift will play a key role in expanding clinical research and training aimed at developing new treatment options."

NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell has one of the largest and highly rated psychiatric programs in the nation with more than 300 inpatient beds, 100,000 outpatient visits every year and specialized treatments in nearly every area of psychiatric care.

The Wallace Program in Psychiatry

Since the program started in 1984, numerous programs and faculty have benefited from the funding – and will now continue to benefit long into the future. Programs initiated by or benefiting from the Wallace gift include functional neuroimaging, developmental neurobiology, geriatric psychiatry, eating disorders, depression and anxiety disorders, women's disorders, psychiatric history, developmental psychobiology, child psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, personality disorders, schizophrenia, services delivery, social medicine and public policy.

Specific highlights include:

  • Discovery of important findings in the area of functional neuroimaging that have led to breakthroughs in the understanding of severe psychosis, depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome and personality disorders.
  • An internationally acclaimed program focusing on identifying mechanisms of attention in children, including clinical studies and new ways to teach dyslexic children in New York City schools.
  • Development of one of the top geriatric psychiatry programs in the nation with world-class research training and clinical research programs, and new approaches to diagnosing and treating the elderly and depression.
  • Development of new ways of combining behavioral and pharmacological treatment for severe eating disorders and studies of the genetic process.
  • The nation's most comprehensive program and the first clinical trials to compare treatment of borderline personality.
  • Enhancement of scholarship and training programs to train a new generation of desperately needed researchers in areas such as child psychiatry.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital – based in New York City – is the nation's largest not-for-profit, non-sectarian hospital, with 2,335 beds. It provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine at five major centers: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Allen Pavilion and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division. One of the largest and most comprehensive health-care institutions in the world, the Hospital is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education and community service. It ranks sixth in U.S.News & World Report's guide to "America's Best Hospitals," ranks first on New York magazine's "Best Hospitals" survey, has the greatest number of physicians listed in New York magazine's "Best Doctors" issue, and is included among Solucient's top 15 major teaching hospitals. The Hospital has academic affiliations with two of the nation's leading medical colleges: Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Weill Cornell Medical College

Weill Cornell Medical College – located in New York City – is committed to excellence in research, teaching, patient care and the advancement of the art and science of medicine. The Medical College, which is a principal academic affiliate of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, offers an innovative curriculum that integrates the teaching of basic and clinical sciences, problem-based learning, office-based preceptorships, and primary care and doctoring courses. Physicians and scientists of Weill Cornell Medical College are engaged in cutting-edge research in such areas as stem cells, genetics and gene therapy, geriatrics, neuroscience, structural biology, cardiovascular medicine, AIDS, obesity, cancer and psychiatry – and continue to delve ever deeper into the molecular basis of disease in an effort to unlock the mysteries behind the human body and the malfunctions that result in serious medical disorders. Weill Cornell Medical College is the birthplace of many medical advances – from the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer to the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., and most recently, the world's first clinical trial for gene therapy for Parkinson's disease. Weill Cornell's Physician Organization includes 650 clinical faculty, who provide the highest quality of care to their patients.

The New York Community Trust

Since 1924, The New York Community Trust has been the community foundation of the New York region, making grants to improve the quality of life for all the area's residents and helping donors with their philanthropy. Grants made from The Trust's more than 1,800 charitable funds meet the changing needs of children, youth, and families; aid in community development; improve the environment; promote health; assist people with special needs; and support education, arts, and human justice. In addition to making grants to a broad range of nonprofit agencies, The Trust responds to urgent problems in the City by bringing people together, collaborating with other funders, and issuing publications to help illuminate issues and explore their solutions. In 2006, The Trust made grants of $159 million and had assets of $2 billion.

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Kathleen Robinson