New Research Center for Neurovascular Brain Immunology Backed by $2.5 Million Donation at Launch

By James White Sunday, January 31, 2021

Scientists from Gladstone Institutes and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) announced the launch of a startup research center aimed at understanding neurological brain diseases and formulating potential treatments. The Gladstone-UCSF Center for Neurovascular Brain Immunology was backed by a generous $2.5 million donation from the Simon Family Trust.

“My mother unfortunately passed due to complications related to dementia, and I’ve always wanted to do something to help others who may be suffering from that disease,” said Nick Simon, founder of the Simon Family Trust and trustee of Gladstone Institutes. “It’s been a very frustrating area of research for the entire scientific community because very few advances have been successful so far. But the new center’s approach to tackle a common underlying contributor to neurological diseases gives me hope that it can finally lead to effective treatments.”

Magnifying glass studying a person's brain inside their head.

Leading The Charge Against Neurological Diseases

Gladstone Institutes is an independent nonprofit research company partnered with UCSF that aspires to treat unsolved diseases through biomedical research. The company encompasses 25 research labs and 105 research operations. The launch of the startup research center aims to “provide an integrated platform for basic and clinical research, bringing together vascular biology, immunology, and neuroscience.” Institutions collaborating with the new research startup company include the University of Massachusetts, Duke University, Harvard University, and more.

The startup research company is unique in its approach to brain immunology as it factors in the role of vascular biology in the development of neurological diseases.

"We have a new appreciation of the challenges and opportunities in drug discovery for neurodegenerative diseases at the blood-brain-immune interface," said Katerina Akassoglou, founding director of the startup research center. "Innovative approaches in imaging and drug discovery platforms at our new center have the potential to transform biomedicine."

The Value of Neurological Disease Research

According to the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center, over 6 million Americans are afflicted by some form of neurodegenerative disease. A study from the University of South Florida determined that neurological diseases cost the healthcare industry $800 billion annually.

In 2017, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates made a personal investment of $100 million in support of companies conducting Alzheimer’s disease and dementia research. Diseases such as these are also targets of the startup research center’s scrutiny.

Market research reports that the global rare neurological disease treatment market was valued at $7.3 million in 2019 and is expected to reach a value of $13.8 billion by 2027. Novartis, a pharmaceutical manufacturer and neurological research company, boasts a market cap of just over $229 billion.


The Gladstone-UCSF Center for Neurovascular Brain Immunology, a new research startup company targeting neurological diseases and novel treatments, was launched with backing from a $2.5 million donation from the Simon Family Trust. The research center hopes to employ a unique understanding of vascular biology to better understand and potentially cure neurodegenerative diseases.

About the Author

Headshot for author James White

James White is a Michigan State University graduate with a B.S. in Environmental Biology. He is interested in reporting emerging trends in technology, especially with regard to alternative energy and environmental conservation.

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