Health + Behavior

Semel Family Donates to UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute to Promote Better Understanding of the Brain and Human Behavior


Terry S. Semel and Jane Bovingdon Semel will donate $25million to endow UCLA's Neuropsychiatric Institute, director Dr. Peter Whybrowannounced June 17. The gift is one of the nation's largest to be dedicatedexclusively to the better understanding of the brain.

The gift from the chairman and chief executive officer ofYahoo! Inc. and his wife will lay the cornerstone of a uniqueacademic-community partnership facilitating a better public understanding ofthe brain and of complex human behavior through science, education andcompassion, according to Whybrow. The Semel gift will support research andcommunity education programs to address the understanding and treatment of suchdiverse illnesses as autism, mood disorders, addiction and Alzheimer's disease.In recognition of their generosity, the institute will be renamed the Jane andTerry Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. Jane Semelwill chair the institute's Board of Community Counselors.

"We want to help lift the stigma that weighs heavily onmillions of Americans suffering from diseases of the brain by inspiring greaterpublic understanding of the impact of biology, genetics and culture on behaviorand personal health," Terry Semel said.

"We want our gift to instill an even greater commitment onthe part of UCLA and other universities to strive to match scientificexcellence with humanistic care, compassion, and the development anddissemination of self-care tools," Jane Semel said. "We hope to build astronger bridge between academic research and community outreach to promoteemotional well‑being among individuals, families and communities."

"The pandemic of stress-related diseases in America, andespecially the prevalence of anxiety and depression in young people, suggeststhat as a society we are losing touch with essential behavioral principles thatensure health and happiness," said Whybrow, who also is the Judson BraunProfessor and the executive chair of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences atthe David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

"Coming at a time when we are poised to physically rebuildthe institute, the generosity of the Semels offers an unprecedented opportunityto create and lead a new humanitarian vision for the field of neuroscience,"Whybrow said. "The Semel Institute is uniquely positioned to integrate theclinical neurosciences of psychiatry, neurology and neurosurgery into acohesive whole, while at the same time reshaping the design of health careprograms and the public perception of mental illness and of chronic braindisease."

"This exceptional gift from Terry and Jane Semel isimportant to the continued vitality of this preeminent institute," said Dr.Gerald Levey, vice chancellor for medical sciences and dean of the David GeffenSchool of Medicine. "Coming within three years of the unprecedented gift by Mr.David Geffen endowing the School of Medicine, the institute endowment is anadditional crucial component that will secure the future of UCLA as a worldleader in medicine and science."

Terry Semel joined Yahoo! Inc. as chairman andchief executive officer in May 2001 and is credited with leading the company'ssuccessful transition and significantly growing the company's revenues, globalconsumer base and prominence as the leading Internet brand. Prior to joiningYahoo!, Semel spent 24 years at Warner Bros., most notable for his roleas chairman and co-chief executive officer. Semel is currently on the board ofdirectors of Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. and the Guggenheim Museum.

Jane Semel is founder of ijaneinc., a nonprofit production company that works to address public health issuesthrough entertainment. She launched, an integrated broadcastand online public service campaign that aimed to raise awareness of commonemotional and physical health issues faced by young adults. The campaign wasnarrated by Hollywood's top female entertainers, including Halle Berry, KateHudson, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez, Julianne Moore, Sarah Jessica Parker andCatherine Zeta-Jones. Jane Semel has been on the board of visitors at UCLAsince 1995.

Since its founding five decades ago, the NeuropsychiatricInstitute at UCLA has established a reputation as one of the world's mostcomprehensive and innovative neuroscience centers, one dedicated not only tothe pursuit of better clinical care for psychiatric and neurological disorders,but also to a comprehensive program of research and education in basicneuroscience, behavior and human culture. With a full-time faculty of 370physicians and research scientists, 700 clinical faculty, and 1,300 staffmembers, in the 2003–04 fiscal year the institute had operating revenues ofmore than $200 million, including more than $125 million in competitiveresearch grants from public and private agencies.

Working with 12 academic departments within the David GeffenSchool of Medicine and across the UCLA campus, the institute's centers offundamental research span neurobehavioral genetics, developmental and cognitiveneuroscience, neuropharmacology and pharmacogenomics, brain imaging, immunologyand the mind-body interaction, health services, health policy, andsociocultural studies, in addition to clinical research. The institute also ishome to one of the nation's oldest and most distinguished federally funded MentalRetardation Research Centers. In recent years the institute's faculty have madesignificant contributions to the understanding and treatment of such diverseillnesses as autism, anxiety and obsessive‑compulsive disorders,attention-deficit disorder, schizophrenia, manic depression, Parkinson'sdisease, multiple sclerosis, addiction, Alzheimer's disease, and obesity andthe other eating disorders.

Educational programs in psychiatry and its sub-disciplines,the clinical neurosciences and neurology, interdisciplinary neuroscienceresearch, clinical pharmacology, neurobehavioral genetics, and medicalpsychology complement this breadth of fundamental research. The institute alsosupports vital programs in clinical care at UCLA's Neuropsychiatric Hospital,which is an integral part of the institute and of the UCLA Health Care System,and also at numerous community facilities throughout Los Angeles County. U.S.News & World Report has judged the acclaimed UCLA Neuropsychiatric Hospitalas the best psychiatric hospital in the Western United States for 12consecutive years.

More information about the institute's research and clinicalprograms is available online at



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