Leonard and Susan Feinstein recently announced a $25 million contribution to Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institute for Medical Research to further expand its research efforts in areas including clinical trials, neuroscience, autoimmunity and bioelectronic medicine.
The Feinstein Institute was renamed in the Feinsteins’ honor in 2005 after they provided an initial $25 million leadership gift. Their motivation to support Northwell’s research efforts stems from a major brain injury suffered by their son in an automobile accident 35 years ago, which occurred at a time when there were few long-term health care solutions that could handle his needs.
“Life-saving techniques to keep you alive got so much better, but the deficits you were left with posed a significant challenge for those responsible for caring for you—or you were just put into a nursing home,” said Feinstein, cofounder and cochairman of Bed Bath & Beyond.
The Feinsteins’ experience with their son sparked the beginning of their significant history of philanthropy dedicated to impacting the health care delivery system. The Feinsteins realized that research was the only real answer to yield treatments and cures that could alter the way medicine is practiced and delivered. Their early support in 2000 helped establish the Susan and Leonard Feinstein Center for Neurosciences.
“We wanted to give where we thought we could make a difference—for a resource that wouldn’t exist unless we stepped in to help,” said Feinstein. “Dedicated neuroscience research had never been done at Northwell Health (then North Shore-LIJ Health System) on the scale we imagined, so we stepped in to make that happen 11 years ago.”
The Feinstein Institute is the worldwide leader in scientific knowledge of bioelectronic medicine—a new field of medicine that uses devices to treat disease and injury. Bioelectronic medicine represents the convergence of three well-established scientific fields: neuroscience, molecular and cell biology and bioengineering.
The Feinstein Institute team, led by Kevin J. Tracey, MD, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institute, a neurosurgeon who pioneered the field, has been working in this area since 1998. The new gift from the Feinsteins brings to $275 million the overall commitment for bioelectronic medicine research thus far. This includes company investments and state grants in support of the underlying research for a wide range of acute and chronic diseases and injuries, including neurodegenerative diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, bleeding, diabetes and hypertension.
“The research taking place across all of Northwell Health—particularly bioelectronic medicine—can revolutionize the way medicine is practiced,” said Feinstein, who also is a member of the Feinstein Institute’s board of directors. “In this promising area of research, we are realizing useful applications and results now and within five to 10 years, we will see cures for some of the most confounding human diseases in our lifetime. Not many research initiatives show that kind of promise.”
“Susan and Leonard Feinstein’s ongoing generosity is a testament to the advancements we have made in science, medicine and curing disease,” said Michael J. Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health. “Northwell established the research institute in 1999, and Leonard and Susan have been with us for each critical step as we’ve grown.”
The Center for Bioelectronic Medicine, directed by Chad Bouton, is organized into three divisions—molecular targets, neurophysiology and neuroscience, and neurotechnology and analytics—each of which has several labs. The Center recently opened five new labs, one of which includes the only Class 100 clean room in Nassau County.