Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford will lead efforts to understand, treat, and prevent these significant issues in children and teens
Palo Alto, Calif.—January 31, 2018 —Tad and Dianne Taube of Taube Philanthropies have made two gifts totaling $14.5 million to Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford to address addiction and concussions—two of the most significant issues affecting the health and well-being of children and adolescents.
A gift of $9.5 million will launch the Tad and Dianne Taube Youth Addiction Initiative, the first program of its kind to comprehensively address the treatment and prevention of addiction during adolescence and conduct research into its causes. Another gift of $5 million will create the Taube Stanford Concussion Collaborative, leveraging Stanford and Packard Children’s medical expertise and collaboration with TeachAids, a Stanford-founded educational technology nonprofit, to advance education, care, and research to protect children from concussions.
“As parents, Dianne and I see that young people today are facing a new world of challenges,” says Tad Taube, chairman of Taube Philanthropies. “We want to educate families and raise awareness about the risks and signs of addiction and concussion in children and adolescents. It can make an all-important difference in their lives.”
“When it comes to health, we must think as big as we can,” says Lloyd Minor, MD, the Carl and Elizabeth Naumann Dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine. “Going after the hardest problems is not only the right thing to do, it is the prudent thing to do. I am immensely grateful to Tad and Dianne Taube for their dedication to Stanford Medicine and their bold commitment to the health and well-being of children and adolescents everywhere.”
Addiction: Earlier Intervention Needed
More than 90 percent of Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction started smoking, drinking, or using other drugs before the age of 18, but no research programs have been dedicated to prevention and intervention during these formative years—until now.
The Tad and Dianne Taube Youth Addiction Initiative will be led by the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, which has identified advancing the understanding of addiction’s causes and its prevention and treatment as a priority of the department. The initiative will be the first of its kind in the nation to fully address addiction during earliest exposure in adolescence. It is part of a major endeavor at Stanford School of Medicine and Packard Children’s to address mental health—the greatest unmet health care need for young people ages 12 to 25.
Addiction, along with other mental health challenges, is a neglected and profoundly stigmatized issue both in adults and young people. Adolescence is a particularly vulnerable time, with hormonal surges and changes in brain development occurring just as young people are facing greater expectations and responsibilities at home and in school, and drug use frequently overlaps with other mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Although addiction can take many forms, ranging from drugs to social media, there is evidence to suggest that the underlying neuro-circuitry of addiction may be the same.
“There is so much exposure today to highly addictive substances and influences, yet the stigma around addiction has created barriers to addressing the issue,” says Laura Roberts, MD, MA, the Katharine Dexter McCormick and Stanley McCormick Memorial Professor and chair of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine. “Rather than treating addiction at the point of crisis, we aim to advance science focused on preventing addiction and understanding its root causes, so that we can make a difference to young people and their loved ones for their entire lives. We are very grateful to the Taubes for their philanthropic investment to make this work possible.”
The Taubes’ gift will establish a new endowed directorship to organize, launch, and lead the youth addiction initiative; an endowed postdoctoral fellowship to train an early-career researcher or clinician in child and adolescent mental health with a focus on youth addiction; and three endowed faculty scholar awards for three faculty members who will, respectively, focus on clinical care, research, and community engagement.
Concussions: The Invisible Epidemic
In the United States, the incidence of concussions in children is rising; there are now up to 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions annually. This epidemic, combined with a “tough it out” culture, has led children, parents, and coaches to trivialize these head injuries and to allow the athlete to continue playing—which prolongs recovery time and increases the risk of a follow-on concussion.
The Taubes’ gift to launch the Taube Stanford Concussion Collaborative will enable Stanford neurosurgeon Gerald Grant, MD, FACS, Stanford bioengineer David Camarillo, PhD, and TeachAids to advance concussion education, care, and research to protect children from the cumulative effects of concussions.
“Tad and I share the concerns of fellow parents about the safety of young athletes in our community and beyond,” says Dianne Taube. “Our hope through this gift is to ensure the safety of our youth and provide current, useful information to educate parents, coaches, and players.”
“Concussions can have devastating consequences, including impaired cognitive function and other long-term neuropsychological effects,” says Grant, the Arline and Pete Harman Faculty Scholar and associate professor of neurosurgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, who leads the pediatric concussion clinic at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. “It is important for everyone to take concussions in children seriously. We need to protect athletes from the cumulative risk of concussions through better education and awareness and develop equipment and practices that will reduce the number of concussions and the time needed for recovery. Ultimately, we aim to understand each individual player’s risk and develop personal diagnostics and interventions for concussions.”
Grant and Camarillo have already made strides in more precisely measuring, diagnosing, and treating concussions in young athletes, including Stanford University football and women’s lacrosse players. Through the new collaborative, TeachAids is developing the first comprehensive, research-based educational software that will address misconceptions about concussions, support brain health and safety, and increase the reporting of concussions. By leveraging Stanford technology, TeachAids will deliver an interactive learning experience free of charge, first to Bay Area high schools and eventually up to 10,000 schools nationwide.
“Our goal is to demystify information regarding brain health while significantly reducing head injuries, says Piya Sorcar, PhD, founder and CEO of TeachAids and a Lecturer at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education. “We believe in harnessing medical, research, and educational expertise by combining it with cutting edge technology to freely disseminate health information and to keep sporting activities safe.”
Stanford also plans to monitor athletes who use the TeachAids educational platform through a variety of methods, including “smart” mouthguards developed by the Camarillo Lab at Stanford that measure head motion during impact and eventually may help predict the likelihood of concussion. The data gathered will be analyzed to develop algorithms that will help clinicians predict an individual athlete’s risk for concussion and lead to personalized approaches to preventing and treating concussion.
“Concussions are greatly underreported and misinformation abounds,” says Camarillo, the Tashia and John Morgridge Endowed Faculty Scholar and assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford University School of Medicine. “In collaboration with TeachAids and through the expanded use of wearable technology, we aim to lead the public in the direction of sound science that shows the impact of concussion on the brain and to reduce and prevent future concussions.”
About the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health
The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health is a public charity, founded in 1997. Its mission is to elevate the priority of children’s health, and to increase the quality and accessibility of children’s health care through leadership and direct investment. The Foundation directs all fundraising for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford and the child health and obstetric programs of Stanford University School of Medicine. To learn more, visit lpfch.org or supportLPCH.org.
About Taube Philanthropies
For more than 30 years, Taube Philanthropies has been a leader in supporting diverse educational, research, cultural, community, and youth organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, Poland, and Israel. Founded by businessman and philanthropist Tad Taube in 1981, and now led by Tad and his wife Dianne Taube, the organization works to ensure that citizens have the freedom and opportunity for advancement of their goals and dreams. Taube Philanthropies makes this a reality by issuing grants through its two foundations, the Taube Family Foundation and the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture. For more information, visit www.taubephilanthropies.org.
Spun out of Stanford University in 2009, and recognized as an innovation that would “change the world” by MIT Technology Review, TeachAids is a 501(c)(3) social venture that combines researchers from education, medicine, design, and technology to create breakthrough software to solve persistent health problems. The combination of the TeachAids unique rich-media applications coupled with intensive research has resulted in providing more than half-a-billion people access to uniquely effective education in 82 countries for free. To learn more, visit www.teachaids.org.