Hope for new level of awareness; couple gives $1 million to fund research

[caption id="attachment_34900" align="alignright" width="288" caption="Drs. John “Jack” and Valerie Rowe have made a $1 million gift to the Buck Institute, announced at the kickoff of the Buck Advisory Council."][/caption]

NOVATO – The Buck Institute on Aging, its campus expanded with a new $50 million stem cell laboratory, is now looking to expand its name in the world.

Last week the Institute held a kick-off event for a new Buck Advisory Council made up of national and international luminaries.

Highlights of the three-day conference and launch celebration included an award to a major media figure and the announcement of a $1 million research grant from a long-time Buck Institute supporter.

According to Buck CEO Brian Kennedy, the new council will bring prestige and increased attention to the Institute and its goals.

Now 30-strong, with members representing government, business, finance, pharmaceuticals, law and other fields, the BAC is expected to have 100 distinguished men and women by the end of the year.

“They’ll provide advice on strategic priorities, serve as ambassadors to raise the visibility of Institute achievements, and set the pace for philanthropy at the institute,” said Dr. Kennedy.

The group will meet twice a year – in the Bay Area each spring and a foreign destination each fall – to collaborate on ways to promote the Buck globally.

“I expect to draw heavily on the BAC as the Buck enters a new phase of growth and expansion,” said Dr. Kennedy.

Chairing the council is the Honorable Edward Powell, retired president and CEO of the USO World Headquarters and former Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“The Buck Institute is uniquely positioned to affect all of our lives,” said Mr. Powell.  “As a field, aging has often been over-looked; the public awareness of the connection between aging and disease is much too low.  The mission of the BAC is to change this.”

[caption id="attachment_34910" align="alignleft" width="176" caption="Barry Petersen"][/caption]

In addition to welcoming Mr. Powell and the other BAC members, Dr. Kennedy announced that long-time Buck friends and supporters Drs. John “Jack” and Valerie Rowe have donated $1 million to fund research at the Buck.

Dr. Rowe, former chairman and CEO of Aetna, Inc., is a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Heath and also leads the MacArthur Foundation’s Network on an Aging Society.

In 1985, Dr. Rowe led a panel of renowned experts in aging who recommended the creation of the Buck Institute to bring together scientists from diverse fields to focus on research to extend the healthy years of life.  He was the first chair of Buck’s Scientific Advisory Board and served on the Institute’s Board of Trustees.

“I have always believed in the mission of the Buck Institute and have been impressed with its extraordinary progress in just 12 years,” said Dr. Rowe.

“Ideally this gift will spur others to support the Buck in a similar way.”

Keynote speaker for the BAC inaugural was CBS newsman Barry Petersen, who also accepted the first BAC Humanitarian Award from Mr. Powell.

Mr. Petersen, who has also won Emmy awards for news coverage, is the author of Jan’s Story: Love lost to the Long Goodbye of Alzheimer’s. It’s an account of caring for his wife, who suffers from early-onset Alzheimer’s.

The condition, which strikes people in their 40s and 50s, is a topic of research at the Institute’s Dale Bredesen Laboratory in collaboration with BioMarin Pharmaceutical of Novato.

“Barry Petersen puts a very human face on the objectives of the BAC,” said Mr. Powell.