November 14, 2011

Gala marks opening of Lieber Institute for Brain Development

Friends and families of people with mental illness, mental health advocates, philanthropists and members of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries joined Johns Hopkins University officials and research scientists last week to celebrate the opening of the Lieber Institute for Brain Development. The event was held Thursday night in the university’s George Peabody Library.

Within the next five years, the Lieber Institute, based in the new science and technology park adjacent to the Johns Hopkins medical campus in East Baltimore, plans to recruit 100 scientists, many of whom will have appointments at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. All will conduct medical research into the origins of mental illness, especially schizophrenia, a disorder for which there have been few new treatments in the last half-century. More than 4 million Americans suffer from developmental brain disorders.

Among the attendees at the celebration were New York philanthropists Stephen Lieber; his wife, Connie; and their son and daughter-in-law. The Lieber family committed $100 million to establish the institute. An additional $20 million was donated by the Maltz Family Foundation in Cleveland to fund what it describes as “a Manhattan project” to tackle neurodevelopmental health issues. Among the reasons the donors cited for locating the Lieber Institute next to Johns Hopkins is the university’s reputation in brain sciences research and its proximity to the National Institutes of Health.

Johns Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels, a member of the Lieber Institute’s board of directors, offered opening remarks. Other speakers included Lieber Institute CEO Daniel R. Weinberger, Rep. Sue Myrick of North Carolina and Lieber.