CNS Case Statement

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UC Davis Center for Neuroscience

Research and Innovation for the Future of Brain Health

The Challenge and the Solution

Unlocking the mysteries of the mind and brain is one of science’s most significant frontiers and one of humanity’s greatest challenges.

Brain disease is a global public health crisis, affecting more than half of the world’s population at some point in their lifetimes. Millions of people live with neurological conditions, such as autism, ADHD, PTSD, Alzheimer’s disease, addiction, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and hearing and vision loss. Declining brain health is a global emergency, yet its effects are extremely personal. It can impair our ability to excel professionally, to sustain relationships with friends and family and even to maintain our identity. Maybe your spouse struggles with addiction; perhaps your child or grandchild has autism, or your parent has Alzheimer’s. Most families are profoundly affected by the effects of brain disease, and we have no cures.

With staggering ripple effects in our society, brain disease costs more than $1.5 trillion in health care and is the major cause of disability in the U.S. As the world’s population increases and ages over the next 20 years, brain health challenges are expected to skyrocket. Further, climate change,

emerging infectious diseases, changing microbiomes through altered food sources and increasing poverty are accelerating this crisis. To address these grand challenges, it is crucial that we develop a greater understanding of brain function and apply that knowledge to improving lives.

UC Davis is a neuroscience research powerhouse with nearly 200 labs across campus conducting brain-related research. The Center for Neuroscience (CNS) is the hub for interdisciplinary and inclusive team science at UC Davis, making discoveries that will transform our approaches to brain and mind health. Now is a pivotal time to maximize the Center’s impact on the impending brain health crisis by accelerating our neuroscience research and innovation capabilities.

Philanthropy is key to advancing treatments for neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions, transforming next-generation technologies and educating the next generation of neuroscience experts. With the support of alumni, friends and partners, we will expedite discovery, promote breakthroughs with a global impact and enhance brain health.


This is a pivotal time in neuroscience research, when we can leverage our unique and innovative team-science approach at the Center for Neuroscience to accelerate discovery and make breakthroughs to address the imminent public health crisis of brain disease.

The Vision

Accelerating discovery and defining the future of brain health require a comprehensive understanding of the brain in health and in illness. CNS researchers conduct interdisciplinary neuroscience research that increases our understanding of how the brain works and leverages these insights to improve the quality of life for all.

One of the first interdisciplinary centers of its kind in the U.S., the Center’s innovative approach is driven by large-scale collaborations. Research teams, anchored by our 24 in-house faculty and more than 200 postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate researchers, investigate brain health throughout the lifespan and at every scale, from genes and cells to systems and behavior.

Teams of scientists—comprised of UC Davis award-winning biological sciences, health, engineering, computer science, social sciences and veterinary medicine experts—are working together to address our most urgent challenges. For example, neuroscientists, chemists and clinicians are developing novel therapeutics and treatments for common brain diseases. Systems and computational neuroscientists, neuroengineers and clinicians are working on brain-

computer interfaces that improve hearing, memory and cognition and are using these insights to create new devices to improve sensory-motor function. Neuroscientists, neuroimmunologists, neonatologists and clinicians are developing approaches to improve maternal health to mitigate the impact of maternal infection, health disparities and climate change on rising levels of psychiatric illness in offspring.

We prepare the neuroscience leaders of tomorrow, through innovative and inclusive educational opportunities. The Center’s international reputation for excellence attracts top postdoctoral scholars and the brightest graduate students and undergraduate researchers, who contribute to an ecosystem of innovation and cutting-edge research. Trainees have access to prestigious National Institutes of Health-funded training programs in basic neuroscience; Learning, Memory and Plasticity (LaMP); and visual neuroscience. Throughout their education, students and earlycareer researchers are supported by programs that advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM. With this foundation of excellence, our exceptional graduates will shape a more inclusive and impactful future for research, medicine, technology and industry.


Advancing Healthy Brains and Minds: Specialty Areas

The Center for Neuroscience’s research teams are making discoveries with global impact and translating our findings into treatments and therapies that will improve the lives of people worldwide. From mental health to healthy aging, and from the molecular origins of learning to the wearable tech helping people enhance memory, CNS researchers are pushing the horizons of knowledge in four key areas of focus for comprehensive brain health.

Memory, Plasticity and Aging

The ability to learn and remember is fundamental to every significant act of daily living. Our memory enables us to learn from the past, recall life events, stay oriented in the present and plan for the future. People with memory disorders may find that these conditions affect their ability to work, live independently and maintain a sense of self. Currently, there are no pharmaceutical or behavioral interventions that can completely ameliorate these challenges.

Our research in memory, plasticity and aging has led to a range of approaches to improve lives, including wearable devices and new therapeutics to enhance learning and memory, closed-loop systems to repair and promote cognition and growing research into brain-computer interfaces

that can expand the ability of the human brain to learn and remember. Increasing our understanding of learning and memory is also fueling a revolution in machine learning algorithms that are based on our growing knowledge of brain plasticity.

Our work in this area is anchored by three interdisciplinary programs at the CNS: The Memory and Plasticity (MAP) Program; the Learning, Memory and Plasticity (LaMP) T32 training program; and the Healthy Brain Aging Initiative. A universitywide priority, the Healthy Brain Aging Initiative unites our strengths in neuroscience research and clinical care to optimize brain health from birth and change the trajectory of brain aging for the next generation.


Brain Development and Mental Health

Differences in learning and plasticity during brain development form the basis for neurodevelopmental and learning disorders and also contribute to a wide range of psychiatric conditions. Despite impressive advances in our understanding of brain development and the underlying causes of these conditions, few treatments to prevent the progression or reverse the symptoms of these conditions have been developed.

Faculty at the CNS are researching developmental and behavioral disorders at multiple levels. From understanding the molecular, cellular and circuit changes of brain development and normal brain function, to how genetic and environmental factors confer risk for mental illness, our scientists translate their research findings into new approaches to improve brain disorder diagnosis and treatment.

Our work in this area is anchored by the UC Davis Conte Center. One of only 15 prestigious National Institute of Mental Health-funded centers in the United States, and run by the CNS, our Conte Center brings together an accomplished team of neuroscientists and researchers from immunology, biomedical engineering, neuroimaging and clinicians to study neuro-immune mechanisms of psychiatric conditions.


Reward and Decision-Making

CNS faculty are leaders in understanding the neurobiological origins of attention and reward, and how experiences, genetics and mental state contribute to the mind’s ability to make decisions. Cross-disciplinary teams are addressing these questions at a variety of scales and in multiple species, from molecular mechanisms and neural circuits to behaviors and computational models. Advances in understanding decision-making will reveal new therapies for conditions of altered reward and cognitive control, from ADHD to schizophrenia to substance abuse—and will help develop more adaptive, human-centered algorithms for advanced artificial intelligence. In addition to being a focus of the UC Davis Conte Center, our work in this area is also anchored by the Substance Use Disorders Research Initiative, which aims to foster basic research in addiction and substance use and to translate findings into a therapeutic development pipeline.

Sensation and Perception

At UC Davis, more than 50 faculty work in the areas of perception and action, with world-class experts in vision, hearing and motor control and the attentional mechanisms that integrate them across the brain. CNS faculty working in this area form the nexus for multidisciplinary collaborations that bring our labs together with engineers and computer scientists, allowing us to accelerate efforts in identifying molecular and neural circuitbased approaches to assist people with hearing impairment, vision loss and movement disorders and slow the progression of these conditions. Our research in this area is anchored by worldclass strengths in vision and hearing research and is supported by highly competitive National Eye Institute grants. In addition, CNS collaborates with researchers at the Center for Vision Science in the School of Medicine.


The Opportunity

We invite you to invest in empowering our researchers to make the next great leap forward in neuroscience. Accelerating the pace of neuroscience discovery will allow us to develop more effective treatments to prevent and treat brain disorders that affect so many families worldwide. With a gift to advance our guiding objectives, together we will address critical global challenges and build a more hopeful future of brain health for all.

Powering the engines of research excellence


Establishing sustainable sources for innovative graduate and undergraduate experiential learning

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Launching new programs and responding nimbly to emerging priorities

Transforming discovery into impact through the Neuro-X Impact Initiative

Increasing awareness about brain research through community outreach


Powering the engines of research excellence

Innovative discoveries start with world-class faculty, postdoctoral scholars and a sustainable infrastructure to cultivate thriving research.

• Name the Center for Neuroscience and create a powerful impact on neuroscience innovation and team science ($10 million)

• Endow chairs and professorships to recruit and retain world-class faculty ($1.5 million to $2 million each)

• Create postdoctoral fellowships to attract top candidates to fuel research innovation ($150,000 to endow)

• Fund research seed grants to cultivate high-risk, high-impact experimental research projects within key areas of focus ($50,000 each or $1.25 million to endow)

I’m in awe at what the Center for Neuroscience has accomplished, attracting the best of the best in the field of brain research. Their researchers are much more willing to explore both interdisciplinary and novel initiatives, and I think this is key.

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Lin Weaver, CBS Campaign Leadership Council member and UC Davis Foundation Board Emerita Established the David L. Weaver Award

Establishing sustainable sources for innovative graduate and undergraduate experiential learning

Help prepare tomorrow’s neuroscientists and support students through fellowships, hands-on research opportunities and inclusion programs.

• Endow graduate fellowships to give students the freedom to focus on their research ($100,000 each)

• Fund undergraduate summer research awards to support students’ research experiences in CNS laboratories  ($15,000 each)

• Invest in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Neuroscience programs, such as Seminar Outreach for Minority Advocacy and the Neuroscience Initiative to Enhance Diversity, to enable tailored support for students from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds in research ($25,000/year)

• Provide travel awards that support students’ academic and professional careers ($2,000 each or $50,000 to endow)

I believe that basic research on the brain is of utmost importance. It is my hope that basic research not only will result in finding cures to brain diseases but also will lead to fundamental understanding of the human brain.

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Ling-Lie Chau, Ph.D., Professor Emerita of Physics Established the Ling-Lie Chau Graduate Award for Brain Research and the Ling-Lie Chau Endowment for the Center for Neuroscience

Launching new programs and responding nimbly to emerging priorities

• Provide unrestricted support for the Director’s Circle drives deeper inquiry, fuels innovation and creates new opportunities for CNS’s faculty and students ($1,000 to $25,000/year)

Transforming discovery into impact through the Neuro-X Impact Initiative

At the intersection of neuroscience, engineering, medicine and society, the Neuro-X Impact Initiative is translating neuroscience discoveries into next-generation technologies and new treatments, and equipping our students with the research and entrepreneurship experiences they need to become innovators and problem-solvers.

• Please contact us to discuss specific opportunities that align with your philanthropic vision.

Increasing awareness about brain research through community outreach

The Center’s Community Outreach Program connects our community with the world of brain science. Through outreach events, young people and the young at heart can learn and get excited about brain science.

• Gifts support popular community events and outreach activities, such as NeuroFest and K-12 brain science education, where we highlight the latest discoveries and spark interest in future neuroscientists ($5,000/year or $125,000 to endow)

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An Invitation

Philanthropy is vital to achieving our bold vision. We invite you to partner with us in advancing interdisciplinary research discoveries that will accelerate treatments and therapies for neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders, transform next-generation technologies and invest in a new generation of neuroscience research leaders. Together, we will define the future of brain health and discovery to improve the well-being and quality of life for people worldwide.

For more information, please contact:

College of Biological Sciences

University of California, Davis

Phone: (530) 752-5304




Cash Gifts

• The simplest and most popular giving method

• Can be tax deductible in the year they are given

Gifts of Securities

• Include stocks, mutual funds and bonds

• Can avoid capital gains taxes

• Can provide an income tax deduction for the full fair market value of long-term, appreciated securities

Gifts of Real Property

• Include land, farms, personal residences, and rental or commercial property

• Can avoid capital gains tax on appreciated assets

• Can provide an income tax deduction for the full fair market value of long-term, appreciated property

• Can eliminate property expenses and taxes

• Can provide continued use for life through a retained life estate gift

Ways to Give

We respect that, for each donor who wishes to provide significant philanthropic support, there are personal, financial and gift planning aspects to consider. We will work with you to realize your philanthropic vision and develop the gift plan that best meets your needs. At your request, we can also work with your tax and financial advisors. Following are various gift types and their associated benefits. You may wish to consider a mix of gift types to help you achieve both your philanthropic and financial objectives.

Bequests and Living Trusts

• Establish the UC Davis Foundation as a beneficiary of your estate

• Can provide an estate tax deduction equal to the value of the gift

• Offer flexibility by allowing you to provide for family first

Retirement Plan Gifts

• For current gifts, utilize the IRA Charitable Rollover provision (for donors aged 70 1⁄2 and older)

• Name the UC Davis Foundation as a beneficiary

• Can eliminate income tax on the plan distributions

• Preserve the plan’s full value for gift purposes

Life Income Gifts

• Include charitable remainder trusts and gift annuities

• Can provide potential tax savings on income, estate and capital gains

• Generate income for you and/or your loved ones for a fixed period of time or until your passing

• Distribute the remaining assets to the UC Davis Foundation

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