Barrow celebrates one of largest single donations to an Arizona hospital

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX -- Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix is the beneficiary of one of the three largest single donations made to an Arizona hospital.

A local philanthropist made a contribution of $10.1 million. That money will help fund much-needed research in psychiatric and motor disorders by using novel treatments, including advanced "deep brain stimulation."

Tess Rafols talked to Dr. Robert Spetzler, the director of Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital, about the incredible donation, which is the largest single gift in the organization's history.

The newly funded Barrow center -- the Barrow Center for Neuromodulation -- will expand the use of deep brain stimulation beyond its traditional applications for patients with movement disorders. The goal is to use deep brain stimulation and other technologies to treat patients with a number of neurological and behavioral conditions such as depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, epilepsy, Tourette syndrome, addictions, autism and chronic pain.

The one-time cash donation came from philanthropist Marian H. Rochelle, whose late husband was treated at Barrow for Alzheimer's disease.

"I have grown to appreciate all that Barrow does for patients in Arizona and around the world," Rochelle said in a news release. "This is truly a gem among neuroscience centers, and I am proud to support it.

"Each of us can play a role in making the new Barrow Center for Neuromodulation a beacon of hope for people with devastating neurological disorders. The doctors, nurses and scientists will give of their education, experience and skill, while we benefactors will give of the resources with which we are so richly blessed.  I hope others will join me in supporting this amazing endeavor. Time is of the essence."

"This gift will advance our understanding of the brain's pathways and their abnormal connections in patients who have movement and psychiatric disorders," Spetzler said in a news release. "There also exists the tantalizing prospect that with deep brain stimulators these abnormal pathways can be made to function in a more normal manner.  This has the potential to make a dramatic difference in the lives of these patients."

Deep brain stimulation involves the implantation of an electrode in a specific area of the  brain. A pacemaker then send signals to the brain and alleviates the symptom of the disorder.

The Barrow Center for Neuromodulation, led by Barrow-trained neurosurgeon Dr. Francisco Ponce, will be located inside Barrow and will include neurosurgeons, neurologists, psychiatrists and clinical and basic researchers.