SEATTLE, May 5, 2021: Seattle Children’s today announced that Anu and Satya Nadella and their family have generously committed $15 million to advance precision medicine neurosciences and youth mental health care at Seattle Children’s, and to help provide equitable access to care for every family and community. The commitment from the Nadella family will allow Seattle Children’s to improve care and advance research for children with neurological conditions in four key areas:
- Attracting and retaining leaders in precision medicine.
- Building a robust clinical trial program.
- Expanding mental health initiatives.
- Establishing the Zain Nadella Endowed Chair in Pediatric Neurosciences.
“We’re incredibly grateful for Anu and Satya’s tremendous generosity and commitment to improving the lives of children and teens with neurological conditions and brain injuries,” said Dr. Jeff Sperring, CEO of Seattle Children’s. “Together, we will not only work to better understand the complexities of the developing brain, but also we’ll improve the lives of young people in our community through greater access to mental health services.”
The Nadella family’s generous commitment supports It Starts With Yes: The Campaign for Seattle Children’s, an initiative with a bold vision to transform children’s health. Seattle Children’s aims to raise $1.35 billion. In addition to advancing Seattle Children’s core mission to care for every child, the campaign addresses some of the biggest unmet needs in pediatric health today by:
- Supporting breakthroughs in precision medicine for neurosciences.
- Providing more access, better services and earlier interventions in youth mental health care.
- Developing next-generation cell and gene therapies to lessen the impact of – and even cure – the most debilitating childhood diseases, including cancer.
- Delivering high-quality, culturally responsive, equitable primary care at the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC) locations.
The Nadella family’s commitment to Seattle Children’s is rooted in empathy and a vision for what will be possible through innovations. The Nadella family’s journey has a personal connection with Seattle Children’s. They experienced firsthand the challenges of caring for a child with complex medical needs. When their son, Zain, was born 24 years ago, he was rushed by ambulance to Seattle Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Born with cerebral palsy, Zain required life-saving care as an infant. Today, he still requires specialized, around-the-clock care. He communicates nonverbally and uses a wheelchair. Their family’s deep understanding of neurological conditions has guided them in their journey to partner with Seattle Children’s to help revolutionize treatments, develop innovative therapies and accelerate research.
“As parents, our lives have been shaped by the needs of our children, and it is our hope that in honoring Zain’s journey, we can improve and innovate care for future generations in every community,” said Anu. Anu currently serves as chair of Seattle Children’s Foundation Board of Trustees and co-chair of the Neuroscience Campaign Initiative Committee.
Precision medicine represents a revolution in how children with neurological conditions and brain injuries will be diagnosed and treated. Seattle Children’s is at the forefront of this approach. It means a child’s care team is made up of clinicians, data scientists, engineers and researchers who work together to provide lifesaving care, identify the root cause of the condition and move beyond treating symptoms and behaviors to develop better treatments unique to meet the needs of each child. Like an orchestra, experts at Seattle Children’s bring different points of view together, and their collaboration creates a symphony that accelerates research to bring improved treatments to patients who have little time to wait.
In honor of Anu and Satya’s son, Seattle Children’s is proud to establish the Zain Nadella Endowed Chair in Pediatric Neurosciences as part of Seattle Children’s Center for Integrative Brain Research. Seattle Children’s Center for Integrative Brain Research brings together a diverse group of researchers working to integrate knowledge at the genetic, molecular, cellular, network and behavioral levels to better understand neuronal functions and brain-related diseases. With this commitment from the Nadella family, Seattle Children’s will be able to build a team of the future, furthering research and understanding the interconnected nature of neurological conditions.
“I am inspired and humbled by the Nadella family’s generosity,” said Dr. Jeff Ojemann, senior vice president and interim chief medical officer at Seattle Children’s. “Philanthropy is vital to accelerating our collaborative work with scientists at the Seattle Children’s Center for Integrative Brain Research. It allows us to make innovative leaps in bench-to-bedside research and scale-up our clinical trial pipeline.”
The Nadella family is also committed to transforming mental and behavioral health care for children and teens. Philanthropic support is especially critical for psychiatry and behavioral medicine, an area that affects countless families, but which has not historically received the philanthropic attention it deserves. Over the past year, Seattle Children’s has seen a significant increase in mental health-related visits to the emergency room and an increase in youth suicide. One in four youth under 18 have struggled with suicidal ideation since the start of the pandemic, up from one in 10 in 2018. This increase in need for services has put a significant burden on Washington state’s mental health system.
Seattle Children’s has developed innovative programs like the Behavioral Health Crisis Care Clinic to address the need in the community, but these programs are largely funded through private donations. Compared to other specialty areas, pediatric behavioral health has not progressed rapidly. Instead, it has been stymied by inadequate reimbursements for care as well as community stigma. The Nadellas’ gift will enable Seattle Children’s to reach more kids in crisis and quickly assess service gaps and barriers to better serve families. Together, through philanthropic support, Seattle Children’s aims to:
- Target the root causes of mental health conditions and commit to improving long-term outcomes.
- Open more doors to care at Seattle Children’s, especially for youth in crisis.
- Build upstream, culturally responsive approaches focused on prevention, early intervention and resilience with a broad range of community partners.
The Nadella family hopes their gift will help more families in every community by supporting equitable access to care, earlier diagnoses, and groundbreaking therapies tailored to each child and their unique needs – their unique minds. It is their collective vision in a brighter future for children with neurological conditions that give them hope.