The Largest-Ever Private Donation to PTSD Creates New Veterans Center

The Steven A. and Alexandra M. Cohen Foundation has made a massive grant to the NYU Langone Medical Center to help establish a new mental health research center dedicated exclusively to veterans. The lengthily named Steven and Alexandra Cohen Veterans Center for the Study of Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury will search for biomarkers to help diagnose post-traumatic stress (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) in veterans.

According to Director Charles Marmar, the lack of objective biomarkers makes diagnosing PTSD and TBI "extremely hard to get right." He hopes funding from the Cohens will accelerate the process of creating lab tests and eventually new treatments to address the problems faced by 10% to 20% of Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans. PTSD and TBI often are linked because of the blast waves from the explosions from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) encountered in those wars.

According to Langone, the gift is likely the largest private donation to post-traumatic stress research. The new Cohen Veterans Center will build on Langone's existing relationships with two Veterans Affairs hospitals in New York City and will be one of the few facilities in the country to examine PTSD and TBI at the same time.

This massive grant exhibits the growing interest in PTSD and TBI research, especially as it applies to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As those wars wind down and more soldiers return home, many will seek treatment for these problems. Philanthropic interest will likely grow. Although the Cohen Foundation is a fairly private group, more public funders may get into the game.