Leon Levy Foundation: Grants for Brain Research and Treatment

OVERVIEW: The Leon Levy Foundation’s brain research support largely revolves around the foundation’s multiple neuroscience fellowships.

IP TAKE: Levy might run a tight ship, but their grants are large and their pockets are deep. Unfortunately, very little funding takes place outside its fellowships.

PROFILE: Leon Levy was a big-time Wall Street risk-taker who made his first investments with $200 in bar mitzvah money in 1940, so it’s fitting that the foundation formed by his bequest takes a similar approach to supporting neuroscience research. Like its namesake, the foundation wants to fund early-stage work and see value accrue. 

Founded in 2004, the Leon Levy Foundation runs a tight but ambitious neuroscience grantmaking program, seeking out early-career scientists with the potential for decades of discovery ahead of them. Clearly interested in building relationships with brilliant young scientists, the outfit operates Leon Levy Neuroscience Fellowship Programs at Weill Cornell Medical College, Columbia University,  New York University Langone Medical Center, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Rockefeller University, all in New York City.

Levy grants have been deliberate but generous. This fits a pretty common philanthropic prototype, especially common in the brain research grantspace: foundations like to give deep and narrow.

In brain research, where it takes a billionaire-Bruce-Wayne-sized pile of cash to make the barest dent in some of the field's biggest struggles, foundations like Levy prefer to partner with large, well-established organizations with a lot of prestige behind them, and create fellowship programs, rather than make one-time grants.