99-026 (Brain Science)
Distributed October 4, 1999
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Scott Turner

David Mahoney to receive honorary degree

Brain Science Program to be unveiled with faculty research presentations

David Mahoney, one of the world’s foremost champions of brain research, will receive an honorary degree from Brown University on Oct. 8, during a ceremony that will feature research presentations by faculty from the University’s new Brain Science Program.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Brown University will present an honorary degree to David Mahoney, one of the world’s foremost champions of brain research, at 4 p.m., Friday, Oct. 8, in Starr Auditorium in MacMillan Hall. The ceremony will include research presentations by faculty, marking the first public presentation of Brown’s new Brain Science Program.

Credited with transforming public thinking about brain research and working to secure Congressional funding, Mahoney will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from President E. Gordon Gee.

The presentation to Mahoney celebrates Brown’s new research and education program to understand brain function and disease. The Brain Science Program features nearly 90 faculty from 10 disciplines under an umbrella designed to promote collaborative study. The ceremony is free and open to the public. MacMillan Hall is located at George and Thayer streets in Providence.

As chairman and CEO of the Charles A. Dana Foundation, Mahoney has committed more than $31 million in grants for brain research. He also founded the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, a non-profit organization to advance public understanding of the progress and promise of this study to better human health. The Dana Alliance created the award-winning public radio series, Gray Matters, and the public television series, Exploring Your Brain, and has published extensively about brain research.

Mahoney is also credited with developing the concept for the annual Brain Awareness Week, an international event to explain the advances of brain research. Last year, he established the Brain Body Institute to look at how the brain alters or is altered by the three leading killers in the United States: cancer, stroke and heart disease. He also co-wrote the book, The Longevity Strategy; How to Live to Be 100 Using the Brain-Body Connection.”

“Mr. Mahoney has been enormously effective in getting across the message that there is great opportunity for alleviating human misery that results from illness related to the brain,” said Nobel Laureate Leon Cooper, professor of physics at Brown, director of the Brain Science Program and member of the executive committee of the Dana Alliance.

“I appreciate this honor deeply, particularly because it is being conferred during the inaugural year of the Brown University Brain Science Program,” Mahoney said. “The interdisciplinary nature of the program is certain to spark innovative study on the part of faculty and students.

“There is no more exciting work being done today than brain research. Scientists are working to defeat brain diseases that afflict millions, and they are beginning to provide answers to how the brain works. While the last ten years has been an amazing period of discovery in neuroscience, the best is yet to come.”

With support from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Brain Science Program funds new graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, undergraduate research fellowships, redesigned and new courses, and pilot research projects.

“Faculty in the Brain Science Program will help students from the physical, mathematical, computational, biological and behavioral sciences combine their talents,” said John Donoghue, professor and chair of the neuroscience department and the program’s executive director. “One important goal is to apply the quantitative skills of these students to fundamental neurobiological questions such as how we recognize objects, how we plan movements and how we remember.”

The honorary degree ceremonies will begin with an academic procession and remarks by Chancellor Stephen Robert. An overview of the Brain Science Program will be followed by brief presentations on current developments at Brown in brain research and treatments. President Gee will confer the honorary degree to Mahoney, who will give brief remarks.