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Rae Merhar

Bringing Hope to Patients with Alcoholism and Drug Addiction

Growing up with an alcoholic mother, Rae Merhar had often wished that there was something that could have helped battle the addiction, the way that there are patches and drugs to help smokers quit. "I'd always thought, 'Wouldn't it be nice if there were something to help you over that hump?' When I heard that this was what Scripps Research was doing, I was thrilled."

After more than thirty years of community volunteer work, Rae decided it was time to retire to the golf course and enjoy the company of her son and grandchild. But her commitment to helping people remained strong. When a friend invited her to an event at Scripps Research, her interest was piqued, and when she learned about the work being conducted by the Pearson Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Research, she knew she wanted to do what she could to support it by making a gift.

“I was immediately taken with George and Barb,” Rae says of Dr. George Koob and Dr. Barbara Mason, co-directors of the Pearson Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Research. “I was so impressed by how dedicated they are and how strongly they believe in their work.”

The Pearson Center was founded in 2003 with the goal of complementing and reinforcing traditional treatments of alcoholism and addiction by focusing on the physiological changes in the brain that drive excessive drinking and drug use and create vulnerability to relapse. Researchers are studying the viability of using new compounds, designed at Scripps Research and elsewhere, to modulate the neurological effects of alcohol, reduce excessive intake, and prevent relapse by normalizing the brain during an alcoholic's recovery. The prospects for enhancing traditional treatment of alcoholism, addiction, and relapse through pharmaceuticals have never been more promising.

Rae and her husband were so impressed that they decided to focus their philanthropic support on the Pearson Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Research to help further its groundbreaking work to combine the latest biomedical research with new clinical treatments to fight the devastating, costly, and deadly diseases of alcoholism and drug addiction.

When asked about her support of the Pearson Center, Rae says, “We’re just plain average folks who felt there was a need. Scripps Research is doing wonderful work in a number of areas; our particular choice was the Pearson Center because we feel that the work that they’re doing is just so important to giving people hope that they can get help.”

The work of Scripps Research’s world-renowned researchers is fueled by the personal stories and the passion of people like Rae.

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“We’re just plain average folks who felt there was a need,” says donor Rae Merhar.