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Washington University Receives $15 Million Gift for New Medical Centers


Washington University in St. Louis has received a $15 million gift to create two new centers aimed at developing treatments for chronic diseases.

The donation came from the former head of the Department of Pharmacology, Philip Needleman and social worker, Sima Needleman. The university’s School of Medicine will allocate $10 million of the gift to creating the Philip and Sima Needleman Center for Autophagy Therapeutics and Research, and the remaining $5 million on the Philip and Sima Needleman Center for Neurometabolism and Axonal Therapeutics.

Both of the centers will advance research in various areas, including the understanding of autophagy, a vital cellular waste recycling system, and the metabolism of neurons.

“These new centers will help harness the collective research excellence already underway in these areas across the School of Medicine and provide new avenues for collaboration and entrepreneurship related to the development of new therapeutics,” chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said.

“These two centers are poised to make major contributions to human health, including potentially slowing the effects of aging.”

The autophagy center will be led by executive vice chancellor for medical affairs, David H. Perlmutter, while the neurometabolism and axonal therapeutics center will be led by Aaron DiAntonio, the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff professor of developmental biology.

The new gift adds to a long history of organizational giving that the Needlemans have undertaken in the past, including creating an endowed professorship, a pharmacology prize, fellowships in regenerative medicine and three endowed scholarships at the Brown School.

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