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Tad and Dianne Taube

Tad and Dianne Taube Gift $14.5 Million to Launch Youth Addiction and Children's Concussion Initiatives

Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford will lead efforts to understand, treat, and prevent these significant issues in children and teens

Winter 2018

Tad and Dianne Taube of Taube Philanthropies have made two gifts totaling $14.5 million to Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford to address addiction and concussions—two of the most significant issues affecting the health and well-being of children and adolescents.

A gift of $9.5 million will launch the Tad and Dianne Taube Youth Addiction Initiative, the first program of its kind to comprehensively address the treatment and prevention of addiction during adolescence and conduct research into its causes. Another gift of $5 million will create the Taube Stanford Concussion Collaborative, leveraging Stanford and Packard Children's medical expertise and collaboration with TeachAids, a Stanford-founded educational technology nonprofit, to advance education, care, and research to protect children from concussions.

"As parents, Dianne and I see that young people today are facing a new world of challenges," says Tad Taube, chairman of Taube Philanthropies. "We want to educate families and raise awareness about the risks and signs of addiction and concussion in children and adolescents. It can make an all-important difference in their lives."

"When it comes to health, we must think as big as we can," says Lloyd Minor, MD, the Carl and Elizabeth Naumann Dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine. "Going after the hardest problems is not only the right thing to do, it is the prudent thing to do. I am immensely grateful to Tad and Dianne Taube for their dedication to Stanford Medicine and their bold commitment to the health and well-being of children and adolescents everywhere."

Addiction: Earlier Intervention Needed

More than 90 percent of Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction started smoking, drinking, or using other drugs before the age of 18, but no research programs have been dedicated to prevention and intervention during these formative years—until now.

The Tad and Dianne Taube Youth Addiction Initiative will be led by the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, which has identified advancing the understanding of addiction's causes and its prevention and treatment as a priority of the department. The initiative will be the first of its kind in the nation to fully address addiction during earliest exposure in adolescence. It is part of a major endeavor at Stanford School of Medicine and Packard Children's to address mental health—the greatest unmet health care need for young people ages 12 to 25.

Addiction, along with other mental health challenges, is a neglected and profoundly stigmatized issue both in adults and young people. Adolescence is a particularly vulnerable time, with hormonal surges and changes in brain development occurring just as young people are facing greater expectations and responsibilities at home and in school, and drug use frequently overlaps with other mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Although addiction can take many forms, ranging from drugs to social media, there is evidence to suggest that the underlying neuro-circuitry of addiction may be the same.

The Taubes' gift will establish a new endowed directorship to organize, launch, and lead the youth addiction initiative; an endowed postdoctoral fellowship to train an early-career researcher or clinician in child and adolescent mental health with a focus on youth addiction; and three endowed faculty scholar awards for three faculty members who will, respectively, focus on clinical care, research, and community engagement.

Concussions: The Invisible Epidemic

In the United States, the incidence of concussions in children is rising; there are now up to 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions annually. This epidemic, combined with a "tough it out" culture, has led children, parents, and coaches to trivialize these head injuries and to allow the athlete to continue playing--which prolongs recovery time and increases the risk of a follow-on concussion.

The Taubes' gift to launch the Taube Stanford Concussion Collaborative will enable Stanford neurosurgeon Gerald Grant, MD, FACS, Stanford bioengineer David Camarillo, PhD, and  Stanford Graduate School of Education lecturer Piya Sorcar, PhD, to advance concussion education, care, and research to protect children from the cumulative effects of concussions.

"Tad and I share the concerns of fellow parents about the safety of young athletes in our community and beyond," says Dianne Taube. "Our hope through this gift is to ensure the safety of our youth and provide current, useful information to educate parents, coaches, and players."

Grant and Camarillo have already made strides in more precisely measuring, diagnosing, and treating concussions in young athletes, including Stanford University football and women's lacrosse players. TeachAids, founded by Sorcar, is developing the first comprehensive, research-based educational software that will address misconceptions about concussions, support brain health and safety, and increase the reporting of concussions. By leveraging Stanford technology, TeachAids will deliver an interactive learning experience free of charge, first to Bay Area high schools and eventually up to 10,000 schools nationwide.

Stanford also plans to monitor athletes who use the TeachAids educational platform through a variety of methods, including "smart" mouthguards developed by the Camarillo Lab at Stanford that measure head motion during impact and eventually may help predict the likelihood of concussion. The data gathered will be analyzed to develop algorithms that will help clinicians predict an individual athlete's risk for concussion and lead to personalized approaches to preventing and treating concussion.

This story was originally published by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health