Peter O'Donnell Jr. Brain Institute

About the O'Donnell Brain Institute

Leading Transformative Change at Medicine’s Ultimate Frontier

The Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute is dedicated to improving patients’ lives by bringing together transformative research and patient-centered care – today and for generations to come. Few places in the world are as primed for discovery and development as UT Southwestern.

With six Nobel Prizes awarded to our faculty since 1985, a continuous recruitment of internationally recognized scientific investigators, and an environment that breeds collaboration and interaction, it’s no wonder that UT Southwestern has taken the lead on brain disorder research and care.

Multiple disorders can affect the brain – ranging from neurologic and psychiatric to cerebrovascular disease and cancer – all of which exact a tremendous toll on individuals, families, and society. Continuing in the forward-thinking spirit of UT Southwestern, the interdisciplinary team at the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute has made it its mission to improve patient care and well-being with the knowledge gained from discoveries across this vast frontier of medicine. 

Explore About the O'Donnell Brain Institute:

Our Vision

Imagine a day when Alzheimer’s disease is a preventable condition, when a pharmacological therapy promotes repair after a brain injury, when brain stimulation speeds recovery after a stroke, and when depression can be halted in its earliest stages by selecting therapies based on a patient’s specific biosignature. To realize this future, we must understand the genes, molecules, and pathways that are altered in disease in order to discover new targets for therapy.

At UT Southwestern, we believe that the next decade will be as burgeoning in brain science as the 1980s were for cardiovascular research. That scientific revolution led to the discovery of statins — cholesterol lowering drugs that have helped tens of millions of people around the world — as well as to UT Southwestern’s first two Nobel Prizes. North Texas will again be the seat of scientific discovery, as it was 30 years ago, but this time it will be for unraveling the mysteries of the brain.

Our Goals

  • Uncover the secrets of how the nervous system functions and how it generates integrative behavior and cognition.
    At the forefront of biology, neuroscience represents a vast frontier for exploration of some of the most profound questions concerning living systems. Answering these questions remains among the most difficult and most rewarding challenges that science faces today.
  • Apply advanced imaging tools and analytics in novel and more precise ways.
    For years, one of the great obstacles in diagnosing and treating brain injury was that conventional imaging tools often failed to show abnormalities even when evidence of brain injury was apparent to patients and physicians. New technologies within UT Southwestern’s Advanced Imaging Research Center offer opportunities to directly visualize disruption of brain function and structure in unprecedentedly precise ways.
  • Fill the need for new, targeted therapies.
    Our clinical fields have suffered from a lack of drugs and treatments that can restore and improve brain function. Based on our improved understanding of brain circuit properties, critical areas for breakthroughs are on the horizon in the development of drug, molecular, and neuromodulation (brain stimulation) therapies to treat neurologic disease.
  • Leverage UT Southwestern’s clinical expertise across multiple specialties to provide the nation’s best acute and restorative care.
    UT Southwestern is on the path to becoming a national center of excellence in the precise diagnosis and treatment of the full spectrum of brain disorders and facilitate collaborative care for our patients. Seamless coordination for patients from the point of access throughout the continuum of care helps drive our outstanding patient satisfaction, safety, and clinical quality.

About Peter O’Donnell Jr.

Peter O’Donnell Jr., for whom the Brain Institute is named, is a longtime UT Southwestern benefactor whose support has been critical in making UT Southwestern one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers.

The focus on advancing medical science and attracting high-quality people to conduct it are two hallmarks of Mr. O’Donnell’s philanthropic investment in UT Southwestern. In the late 1990s, he conceived and provided financial support for the Endowed Scholars Program in Medical Science, which has brought nearly 100 of the country’s brightest early-career scientists to UT Southwestern as faculty members. In addition, he has provided support to each of UT Southwestern’s six Nobel Prize winners, as well as many UT Southwestern members of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine.

The O’Donnell Foundation provided a $36 million leadership gift to UT Southwestern, which empowered UTSW to create the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute. The support of the O’Donnell Foundation substantiates that one of the greatest challenges of our time is brain injury in its various forms. The gift enables UT Southwestern to accelerate progress in injury prevention, novel brain preservation strategies, and restoring brain function lost by injury and disease.

Campaign for the Brain: Leading Transformative Change