UTD Center for BrainHealth Receives Record-Breaking Donation from Sammons Enterprises

Center chief Sandra Chapman says the gift will help researchers develop strategies and technologies "to make sure our best brain years are ahead of us."

The largest single donation in the 22-year history of the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas will empower pioneering advancements in brain health and performance, center leaders announced Thursday.

The dollar amount of the gift, which was described as a “transformational investment in the future of brain health,” was not disclosed.

The Center for Brainhealth says the donation will “turbocharge” its pioneering work to protect, strengthen, and restore brain health.

Naming the Sammons BrainHealth Imaging Center

In honor of the multi-year gift from Dallas-based Sammons Enterprises, the center’s imaging facility with its two 3-Tesla MRI scanners—considered the field’s “gold standard”—will be named the Sammons BrainHealth Imaging Center.

“The pandemic has brought brain-related challenges into stark reality, creating a global brain health crisis as never before witnessed,” said Sandra Bond Chapman, chief director of the Center for BrainHealth and distinguished professor in UTD’s School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. “

Chapman sees the need to act “boldly and urgently” to provide access to proven and proactive measures in brain health that benefit all people.

Yolanda Brown, Kevin Ann Marcyes and Jen Bare part of Sammons Leadership with Bart Rypma (Director of Sammons BrainHealth Imaging Center) and Sandi Chapman (Chief Director of Center for BrainHealth) [Photo: Jason Voinov]

The donation will impact research in three main areas:

  1. Brain physiology by allowing cutting-edge imaging techniques to view brain systems in real time and assess the impacts of therapeutics and cognitive training;
  2. Neuroinformatics, which use machine learning and artificial intelligence to predict an individual’s brain health trajectory so issues can be tackled early; and
  3. Data visualization to show individuals how their brain is changing as it improves in function. Information from all three will be used to develop models to prevent or detect problems early so interventions can have the greatest impact. 

Doubling our peak brain years

“We must tackle brain health with unprecedented focus, determination, and funding to double peak brain years to match our longer lifespan, which has been achieved thanks largely to the doubling of heart health,” Chapman said.

The brain health chief wants to help ensure our best brain years are ahead of us: “We are only beginning to understand and truly harness the techniques, strategies, and technologies that are most effective for each of us in our unique individual context,” she said.

Sammons’ donation is a campaign milestone

Sammons’ gift is part of the LIMITLESS Comprehensive BrainHealth Campaign, which is currently in its silent phase and at 60% of a $50 million goal. The campaign, which aims to transform how people care for and improve their brains with actionable strategies, will open to the public in coming weeks, according to UTD officials.

A call to action

Chapman hopes that the generous donation from Sammons Enterprises would motivate other philanthropic investors to “join BrainHealth’s urgent, world-improving efforts.”

Heather Kreager, CEO of Sammons Enterprises, a holding company with businesses in financial services, industrial equipment and services, real estate and infrastructure, said, “The men and women of Sammons Enterprises are pleased to support the leading-edge, science-backed work of the Center for BrainHealth, whose team is showing the world how to shift focus from problem identification to opportunity capitalization that will lead to healthier outcomes, better quality of life and strong societal benefits.”

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