The Simms/Mann Family Foundation has made a $3 million gift to
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to fund an endowed chair for the
director of the Developmental Neurogenetics program within CHLA’s Institute
for the Developing Mind. The inaugural holder of the Simms/Mann
Chair in Developmental Neurogenetics will be Pat
Levitt, PhD, who was recruited to Children’s Hospital in 2013 to
direct the program. Levitt is also the W.M. Keck Provost Professor of
Neurogenetics, Pediatrics, Neuroscience, Pharmacy, Psychiatry, Pathology
and Psychology at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of
Southern California (USC) and professor of Psychology at USC’s Dana and
David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
Levitt’s basic and clinical research holds the promise of identifying
how genetics and the environment come together to construct the healthy
brain, and how alterations in this complex process can lead to
neurodevelopmental disorders. A Quintiles Senior Fellow at the USC
Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, he is also scientific
director of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, and
a senior fellow at the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard
University. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of
Health since 1983, and he was recently elected a member of the
prestigious Institute of Medicine.
“One of The Simms/Mann Family Foundation key priorities is to support
the advancement of cutting edge research in the area of early
neuroscience. The Foundation is proud to support Dr. Levitt’s visionary
leadership of important work to help understand early brain development
and in particular, the development of learning, social behavior and
communication, and emotional connection. With a better scientific
understanding of early development, we hope to impact parents and
professionals as they help babies and children thrive in the fast-paced
21st century,” said Victoria Simms, PhD, president of The Simms/Mann
Bringing together an interdisciplinary team of experts, the
Developmental Neurogenetics program serves as a bridge between basic
discoveries in the research lab and the development of important new
prevention strategies and therapies for young patients.
Research areas include how genes and environmental factors such as early
adversity increase risk for neurodevelopmental disorders—ranging from
autism and anxiety to social, learning and cognitive disabilities—and
how research discoveries can be used to develop the very best
individualized care possible.
“My goal is to build upon our existing research accomplishments to
develop strategies for positively changing the development of each child
who is at risk for a neurodevelopmental disorder,” says Levitt.
The program is part of the new Institute for the Developing Mind (IDM)
Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles,
established to fulfill the need for expanding research efforts,
development of new research technologies, and education of a new
generation of interdisciplinary clinicians and scientists—all working to
discover new diagnostics, identify risk factors, and develop innovative
biomedical, behavioral and educational treatment strategies for
childhood brain disorders.
“We are deeply grateful to The Simms/Mann Family Foundation for its
enduring commitment to helping children here and around the world,” said
D. Brent Polk, MD, chair of Pediatrics and director of The Saban
Research Institute. “This endowment will enable Dr. Levitt to lead this
unique, translational research program alongside other world-class
The president of The Simms/Mann Family Foundation, Victoria Mann Simms,
PhD, has been a member of the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Board of
Trustees since 2002 and currently serves on The Saban Research Institute
Committee. Based in Los Angeles, The Simms/Mann Family Foundation and
The Simms/Mann Institute work to fund and implement innovative programs
to address the complex challenges of the 21st century. In particular,
the Foundation and Institute support social and educational programs
that foster healthy development of children, families and communities.
Programs include the first-of-its-kind Think Tank and Fellowship Program
for California Community College Early Childhood Education, The
Simms/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology and The Simms/Mann
Health and Wellness Center at the Venice Family Clinic.
About Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Children's Hospital Los Angeles has been named the best children’s
hospital on the West Coast and among the top five in the nation for
clinical excellence with its selection to the prestigious U.S. News &
World Report Honor Roll. Children’s Hospital is home to The Saban
Research Institute, one of the largest and most productive pediatric
research facilities in the United States. Children’s Hospital is also
one of America's premier teaching hospitals through its affiliation
since 1932 with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of
For more information, visit CHLA.org.
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Copyright Business Wire 2014