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The Staglin Family Announce Largest Ever Grant for Research in Prevention of Mental Disorders at 14th Annual Festival for Mental Health

September 15, 2008

The 14th Annual Staglin Family Music Festival for Mental Health raised approximately $3 million at its September 13 event to help support pioneering mental health research. Co-hosts Shari and Garen Staglin announced that scientists who have been conducting research with seed funding from previous festival earnings were recently awarded a $21 million grant by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to begin a large multi-center study. A jubilant mood set in as R&B legends The Pointer Sisters took the stage and enticed guests to hit the dance floor in celebration of the historic day.

Dr. Ty Cannon, PhD, Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA helped the Staglins make the historic announcement of the $21 million grant for the North American Prodromal Longitudinal Study (NAPLS). Dr. Cannon has taken a lead in NAPLS, a consortium of eight North American prodromal (an early symptom indicating the onset of an attack or a disease) research centers, which study teens who are at risk for developing psychosis and can be identified and treated before the onset of a full-blown illness. Through this funding, Dr. Cannon is heading a team of scientists and clinicians to develop the means to head off psychosis as a regular clinical intervention, as the effects of an episode produce long-term changes in the brain that are far harder to treat. Currently, their testing has resulted in the ability to identify 40% of at-risk subjects who would develop psychosis before they actually do. This NAPLS grant will allow for further assessment, using an array of biological analyses, with the goal of raising the tests’ predictive sensitivity to 80%. This would mean that a full 80% of people who would develop psychosis could be treated early, and, hopefully, be saved from it. The group also aims to uncover the specific neural and molecular changes that drive the emergence of schizophrenia and related illnesses, knowledge that will aid in the development of new approaches to early intervention.

“Funding from the Staglin Music Festival for Mental Health was absolutely instrumental in helping us secure this grant from the NIMH, both through the provision of ‘seed’ funding for the UCLA early detection of psychosis program and through support of a series of grant planning meetings of the NAPLS investigators,” Dr. Cannon stated. “We feel very strongly that, with this major funding, an 80% predictive sensitivity rate is very achievable. This alone can greatly change the way we treat mental illness,” Cannon added.

Co-hosts Shari and Garen Staglin, along with children Brandon and Shannon Staglin, welcomed more than 400 donors and friends, including California Lt. Governor John Garamendi, who came together under beautiful sunny skies in a celebration of life and the raising of awareness into the causes and cures for physiological brain disorders. The guests roared their approval when Garen and Shari announced that the millions generated by the event had enabled scientists to undertake new research and apply successfully for additional millions in NIMH grant money.

In addition to the NAPLS grant, the Staglins announced that even more grant money has been awarded in 2008, to fund research based on studies initially supported by direct seed money that the Music Festival awarded in the past. The 250,000 provided to Dr. Akira Sawa allowed him to make discoveries about the DISC1 and neuregulin-1 genes so important that the NIMH awarded him an additional $6 million to expand his research at Johns Hopkins University. In addition, the $250,000 provided to Dr. Eva Anton at University of North Carolina gave him the ability to trace disease mechanisms of the neuregulin-1 gene and earn an additional $1 million grant from the NIMH. The Festival’s 14-year total of direct and leveraged grants now stands at approximately $83 million.

“Ty’s announcement about the NAPLS grant and these additional leveraged grants are another example of the importance of ‘venture philanthropy’, our term for this vital private funding in an era of decreasing public research funding,” said Garen Staglin. “We’ve always realized how important this type of unrestricted funding is to assist these doctors and scientists with their research, and we hope our success will inspire more to do the same,” Staglin added.

Next year’s festival will be held on September 12, 2009 at the Staglin Family Vineyard, Rutherford, Calif. Attendees will once again be treated to a celebrity chef, the world’s best wines, and the Staglins have promised another stellar musical personality to entertain guests.

Donations to the Music Festival for Mental Health may be made on-line at www.music-festival.org, or by sending a check to the Staglin Music Festival for Mental Health, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that sponsors the Music Festival. Please mail donation to: P.O. Box 680, Rutherford, Calif., 94573.

For further information, please call (707) 944-0477 or email cindy@music-festival.org or visit www.music-festival.org.

Photos available upon request




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