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The Rockefeller Family and the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute

U.S. Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller’s interest in neuroscience developed out of his experiences as he witnessed the slow but irreversible deterioration of his mother, Blanchette Ferry Rockefeller, who died of Alzheimer’s disease in 1992. Mrs. Rockefeller, an active parent and grandparent and energetic patron of the arts in New York City, had access to the most advanced medical care available in her lifetime, but her family and physicians were unable to stop the progression of the disease.

In 1999, Senator Rockefeller established the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute at West Virginia University in her honor. He recruited members of his family to support both its research programs and the construction of a modern scientific facility on the University campus.

By 2001, the family had committed $15 million to the project. The leadership gift from Senator Rockefeller and his wife Sharon, his sisters Sandra Ferry, Hope Aldrich, and Alida Messinger, and his uncles Laurance Rockefeller and David Rockefeller, Sr., inspired many others to donate to the Institute over the following years.

Senator Rockefeller has remained closely involved with the Institute since its founding, and expressed strong support for its expansion of mission and renaming in 2017.

Then Governor John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV greets his mother, Blanchette Rockefeller at the Asia Society 25th Anniversery Dinner, October 1981. (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Dr. Ali Rezai, executive chair of the West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, lays out his bold, new vision for neuroscience at WVU. Joining Dr. Rezai are WVU President Gorden Gee, Albert Wright, president and chief executive officer of the West Virginia University Health System, and Clay Marsh, MD, vice president and executive dean for Health Science at WVU.

Research drives patient care at any large academic medical center. As stroke treatment has dramatically evolved in the past decade, WVU Medicine’s neurointerventionists have emerged as national leaders in their relatively new field. Here, Ansaar Rai, MD, WVU Medicine Radiology vice chair of clinical operations, discusses the past and present of stroke treatment.

Neurosurgeons treat their patients through the use of a delicate, targeted procedure; the best neurosurgeons are skilled at several. WVU Medicine neurosurgeon Robert A. Marsh, MD, PhD, says his best approach is unique to each patient, and considers wishes as well as needs.

WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute