The University of California, Irvine (UCI) has received a multimillion-dollar gift from a deceased philanthropist to fund a depression research center. The donation is the largest awarded to an institution to support studies focused on the mental health disorder, which affects one in every three Americans.
The university announced Monday that the estate of the late Audrey Steele Burnand, a well-known philanthropist in Newport Beach who supported scientific and medical research, set aside $57.7 million to establish the Noel Drury M.D. Depression Research Center.
“Audrey Steele Burnand’s legacy will enable us to create a world-class research center that builds upon UCI’s historical excellence in the neurosciences to make life better for millions of people,” said UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman.
More than $55 million of the total donation will go to advanced research exploring the causes and possible treatments for depression. The remainder will go directly to the Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center, also managed by UCI.
“Our objective will be to execute on a full spectrum of research – from basic science to translational studies to clinical trials. It must go from bench to bedside, and I am certain we have the ability to do this,” UCI School of Medicine Dean Michael Stamos said.
Depression and Anxiety Growing on Campus
Since the onset of the pandemic, more than half of college students in the US have reported symptoms of mental health distress – whether severe anxiety, severe depression, or both.
A study, which is published in the National Library of Medicine, surveyed 962 college students involved in undergraduate research regarding their mental health during the pandemic.
The study found that 63 percent experienced mild anxiety while 73 percent suffered from mild depression. Around 15 percent reported suffering severe anxiety, and 23.4 percent had severe depression.