Columbia University Launches Center for Precision Psychiatry & Mental Health with $75 Million Grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF)

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Center for Precision Psychiatry & Mental Health at Columbia University co-directors Sander Markx, MD, Steven A. Kushner, MD, PhD, and Joseph Gogos, MD, PhD.

Columbia University today announced the establishment of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Center for Precision Psychiatry & Mental Health at Columbia University. The center will catalyze the scientific innovation and clinical implementation of precision medicine to advance the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness. The center is being established with a $75 million grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), an international philanthropic organization, as part of SNF’s Global Health Initiative (GHI).

The SNF Center is a joint effort of the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and Columbia’s Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. It will be embedded within Columbia University’s unique ecosystem of research and clinical services and will draw upon expertise from the Columbia-affiliated New York Genome Center and the New York State Office of Mental Health.

The increasing sophistication of precision medicine is allowing scientists and health care providers to integrate each person’s unique genomic, physiologic, and health profiles to create optimized prevention and treatment strategies. Columbia University has been at the forefront of recent efforts to elucidate the genetic and biological changes that cause a multitude of severe mental illnesses. The SNF Center for Precision Psychiatry & Mental Health will build upon and expand this knowledge by accumulating massive datasets of genomic sequences and longitudinal medical records. At the same time, by harnessing interdisciplinary expertise from biologists to clinicians, the center will enable the rapid advent, from bench to bedside, of new therapeutic and prevention approaches based upon defined etiologies shared by distinct subgroups of patients.

“The insights provided by genomics and precision medicine are proving of tremendous value in improving people’s health and lives,” said Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger. “Through this new center, our researchers will meet an urgent human need by harnessing precision medicine to promote mental health for all. We are enormously grateful to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for joining with Columbia in meeting this profound scientific and humanitarian challenge.”

“The significant progress we have made in caring for our physical health in recent decades is apparent, but just as clear is the fact that we have left behind our mental health,” said SNF Co- President Andreas Dracopoulos. “All of us at SNF are proud to support the doctors, scientists, and mental health professionals at Columbia in bringing together deep expertise with an equally deep sense of humanity to address one of the most critical issues of our time.”

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