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Major Gift Enables First-of-Kind Center

The Lieber Center for Schizophrenia Research at Columbia’s E. 60th St. location, will undergo a major expansion thanks to a $9.2 million gift from the center’s original benefactors, Stephen and Connie Lieber. The gift will endow the creation of the new Lieber Clinic for Comprehensive Care, the first of its kind in the world, a bench-to-bedside facility that will offer the latest diagnostic and therapeutic tools within a program of comprehensive care for people with schizophrenia and their families.

Devastating Mental Illness
The Lieber Center also will use the new funds to establish a professorship in translational therapeutics and expand its cutting-edge research initiatives, identifying genetic mechanisms and novel treatments for brain disorders.
   “The center will enable groundbreaking research to be translated swiftly into clinical care for patients with mental illness,” says Jeffrey A. Lieberman, M.D., chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and director of the Lieber Center. “The outstanding support of Connie and Steve Lieber provides a wonderful foundation for making the center the model for the future.”
   Schizophrenia affects some 2.4 million adults, or 1.1 percent of the U.S. population, and is the fourth leading cause of disability in the developed world. It is one of the most debilitating mental disorders, characterized by delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking, and cognitive deficits. Schizophrenia’s mortality rate is higher than that of some cardiovascular diseases and some cancers, with 15 percent to 20 percent of those whose illness is inadequately treated attempting suicide.
   First established within Columbia’s Department of Psychiatry in 1999, the Lieber Center has since grown to become a global leader in schizophrenia research, with a faculty that includes world-class experts on the genetics, pathophysiology, and etiology of this complex disease. Among them is Nobel laureate Eric Kandel, University Professor of Physiology & Cellular Biophysics, Psychiatry, and Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, whose groundbreaking research leading to the development of a mouse model for schizophrenia was spurred by the creation of the Lieber Center and its extraordinary faculty and facilities.
   “I now plan to devote a significant portion of my research to schizophrenia,” Dr. Kandel says. “The Liebers have every reason to be proud of the faith they have invested in Columbia and the Lieber Center.”
   “Connie and I are impressed by the talent and dedication of Dr. Lieberman and his team,” says Stephen Lieber. “To conduct the kind of research that will improve treatment options and quality of life, you need a coordinated effort that forges collaboration between world-class basic scientists and clinical researchers who are on the frontlines of patient care. We see this at Columbia and we are looking forward to seeing novel treatments as a result.”