Suicide is the third leading cause of death for American children and adolescents, but little is known about what causes depression and mood disorders in the younger population and how to treat them. J. Rex Fuqua wants to change that and has given a major boost to a new initiative at Emory University that's looking for the answers.
Fuqua, president and CEO of Atlanta-based Fuqua Capital Corporation and managing director of Fuqua Ventures, has contributed a $2 million endowment to the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine to create The J. Rex Fuqua Chair in Child Psychiatry. The endowed chair will make it possible to establish leadership for the newly created Emory Childhood and Adolescent Mood Disorders Program.
Mr. Fuqua has a personal interest in mental health. His late father, businessman and philanthropist J.B. Fuqua, struggled with depression throughout his life. In 1999 his father helped found and support the Fuqua Center for Late Life Depression at Emory University's Wesley Woods. In 2003 his generosity continued with a $2 million contribution to endow the J.B. Fuqua Chair in Late-Life Depression in the Emory School of Medicine. William M. McDonald, MD, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and director of the Fuqua Center, currently holds that chair.
"Emory has a national reputation as a top clinical and research center for adult and late-life mood disorders," says Mr. Fuqua, "so now the need and timing are right to create a center of excellence for child and adolescent mood disorders at Emory.
"We now know that mood disorders are disorders of the life span," says Mr. Fuqua. "But while we do know a healthy percentage of children have mood disorders, there is a tremendous gap in our knowledge about what causes these various disorders and the most effective treatments for children and adolescents."
Atlanta, like numerous other cities in the U.S., has experienced a shortage of both outpatient and inpatient programs for children and adolescents. Additionally, there are very few studies being done nationwide that are geared specifically toward young people with psychiatric disorders.
The Emory Childhood and Adolescent Mood Disorders Program will eventually provide both outpatient and inpatient short-term care; research activities using neurobiology, brain imaging and genetics to create novel treatment strategies; and will serve as a training ground for future child and adolescent psychiatrists and psychologists.
According to Charles B. Nemeroff, Reunette W. Harris Professor and chair of Emory's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, "When this center is fully staffed and operational, it will be a world-class program for both biomedical research and clinical care. We are extremely fortunate and grateful to have the support of Rex Fuqua and his wife Duval and the Fuqua Foundations to help attract the most talented leadership in the field."
Mr. Fuqua earned a master's in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology in Berkeley, where he was a doctoral candidate. He is a trustee emeritus of the Duke University Board of Trustees, serves on the Board of Visitors of Duke's Fuqua School of Business and on the Board of Advisors of Duke's Kenan Institute for Ethics.
Among Mr. Fuqua's other board affiliations, he chairs the Emory Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences External Advisory Board, serves on the Board of the George West Mental Health Foundation and the Board of Councilors at The Carter Center, and is former Board Chair and a lifetime trustee of the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
"It has been my dream to create this center since I came to Emory," says Dr. Nemeroff. "Although we know that children suffer from mood disorders, research in this area lags behind.
The formation of this center will be a strong component in Emory's commitment to its s trategic plan to strengthen the neurosciences at Emory, delivering an opportunity for researchers to pursue a better understanding of childhood mental illness." ###