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Gift by New Yorker Establishes First Named Chair for Research on Alzheimer's Disease

By Leslie Boen

The Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain and the Department of Neurology have received a pledge of $1.5 million from New York-based lawyer Gilbert Kerlin to establish the Institute's first-ever named chair, for Alzheimer's research. Established in honor of Kerlin's late wife, and the excellent care she received at Columbia, the Sally Kerlin Professorship of Neurology will support one full-time faculty member affiliated with both the Institute and the Department of Neurology at Columbia's College of Physicians & Surgeons. Columbia's Board of Trustees approved the chair at a meeting last December.

An attorney with the prestigious Wall Street firm Shearman & Sterling, Kerlin is no stranger to philanthropic activity. He and his wife established the natural and environmental sciences program at her alma mater, the Bank Street College of Education in Manhattan, and he was a founding chairman of two non-profit organizations in his hometown of Riverdale, N.Y. One of these institutions, the Riverdale Community Planning Association, was instrumental in rezoning the West Bronx to nurture, protect and conserve its remaining greenery and natural areas. The other, the Wave Hill Public Garden, has pioneered a number of cutting-edge environmental education programs for children and today serves as a living laboratory and cultural center for New York City residents. Kerlin also has been supportive of Pace University's environmental law program and several Riverdale-based charities, including: the Riverdale Nature Preservancy, Riverdale Senior Services, Riverdale Mental Health, and the Riverdale Neighborhood House.

"We are delighted that Kerlin has chosen to honor the memory of his wife in this vital and productive manner," said Gerald M. Fischbach, executive vice president for Health and Biomedical Sciences and dean of the faculty of Medicine. "By establishing a professorship at the Taub Institute, Kerlin is paying fitting tribute to the physicians who provided Sally with such loving and meticulous care, and will contribute in a real and tangible way to the advancement of Alzheimer's disease research, education, and clinical care."

"I am thrilled to hear of Kerlin's decision," said Richard Mayeux, co-director of the Taub Institute. "His generosity will not only help ensure that more patients benefit from the quality of care that Sally received at Columbia, but also will allow us to further explore promising research avenues and directions-ones that could ultimately translate into breakthrough cures and a brighter tomorrow for the hundreds of thousands of people who will be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in the future."

"This wonderful gift will help assure that Columbia University has the resources to attract and retain the best physicians and scientists working in Alzheimer's disease," said Timothy A. Pedley, chairman of the Department of Neurology. "In establishing the Kerlin Professorship, Kerlin has created a splendid memorial to his wife and in doing so encourages all of us to work even harder to develop novel treatments and, eventually, a cure for this devastating illness."

Kerlin's gift will be earmarked for a clinical investigator who specializes in Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. The successful candidate and recipient of the funds will be formally nominated by Mayeux and Taub Institute Co-Director Michael Shelanski, in collaboration with both Pedley and Dean Fischbach.

The Department of Neurology is one of the largest and most clinically versatile in the country, with more than 130 full-time faculty, 30 residents, and 45 post-residency fellows, representing all areas of neurology. Each of the department's divisions has several clinicians who are both nationally and internationally recognized for their accomplishments; most physicians are involved in research and clinical trials, enabling them to offer their patients the latest in therapeutic options. The department is based in the Neurological Institute of New York, an internationally recognized center for the treatment of brain disorders that consistently has produced world-class neurology experts-and expertise-since its inception nearly 100 years ago.

Founded two years ago, the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain operates as an independent entity at Columbia and is one of 15 institutions designated by the National Institute on Aging as an official site for Alzheimer's disease research. Under the direction of Mayeux and Shelanski, Taub Institute researchers explore the fundamental brain mechanisms involved in Alzheimer's disease, develop the means to identify vulnerable individuals at risk for Alzheimer's disease, devise new therapies to prevent or delay disorders of the aging brain, and administer projects related to Alzheimer's disease in departments and centers across campus.

Published: Feb 02, 2002
Last modified:Sep 18, 2002

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