In 1999, Senator John D. (Jay) 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. His reasons for doing so were deeply personal and driven by his desire to address the greatest neurological challenges facing humanity. In his own words:

The Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) is unlocking mysteries of maladies that can strike at the very heart of our humanity and affect us to our souls. My sisters and I felt helpless as the ravages of Alzheimer’s stripped our mother, Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller, of her ability to appreciate music, art, and loved ones. The disease stripped her of her dignity. It extinguished the light from her blue eyes.

Heart-broken, Hope, Alida, Sandra, and I knew that we must do everything in our power to end that kind of suffering. And, I knew that West Virginia, a place where people are driven by passion and purpose, was the right place to fulfill that mission. Two decades ago, my sisters and I helped to found an institute that would begin that journey.

Today, we celebrate the promise that is being realized. The Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute has attracted brilliant minds to Morgantown with the opportunity to engage in purpose-driven work with a sense of urgency. Dr. Rezai and the entire RNI team are making groundbreaking progress with first-in-the-world treatments and unprecedented partnerships.

The global impact of new treatment options for devastating neurological disorders and the RNI’s expanded focus on addiction research can be transformative and life-giving. My vision was that advances in neuroscience would one day bring hope to families like mine. The RNI is taking us there.

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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)

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.

For more information or to schedule an appointment,
call 855-WVU-CARE (855-988-2273).

The WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute

Learn how world-renowned neuroscientist Dr. Ali Rezai is leading groundbreaking research and comprehensive integrated clinical and research programs at The WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute.

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