Mark Pearson

Donor with a Mission

"Many people fail to realize what a powerful, costly, and deadly disease alcoholism is, and how many lives are affected by it," said Scripps Research philanthropist Mark Pearson, who lost his parents to alcoholism. "I believe that with increased funding by the government and dedicated individuals, we can make advances similar to those that have been made for cancer, heart disease, and other major medical conditions in the area of alcoholism and addiction research."

Before making his initial $3 million gift to Scripps Research in 2003, Mark visited several nonprofit research organizations across the United States in hope of finding one institution that stood out. Scripps Research was the only one he found that focused on the neuropharmacology of alcohol addiction coupled with drug development.

"I spent time with Dr. George Koob and Dr. Barbara Mason in their La Jolla labs, and I was impressed with the research they're conducting," said Mark. "Dr. Koob's dedication to understanding neurochemistry and neurobiology, and work linking addiction to stress made a lot of sense to me."

Mark's gift established the Pearson Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Research at Scripps Research. The center combines the latest biomedical research with innovative clinical treatment to fight alcohol and drug addiction.

Recently, Mark established the Pearson Family Chair in alcohol and addiction research, a position currently occupied by Dr. Mason.

"The chair provides assurance that the team I assembled at The Scripps Research Institute can carry on our exciting work, which has great potential to help people in recovery," said Dr. Mason. "As part of the Pearson Center, the chair also gives me the freedom to conduct early proof-of-concept studies and quickly build on preclinical and clinical findings, work that could be delayed for years if we had to wait for National Institutes of Health funding, or never done at all."

Researchers at the Pearson Center seek to complement traditional treatments of alcoholism, such as group therapy and psychological counseling, by better understanding the physiology of the brain.

"The establishment of the Pearson Chair for Dr. Mason provides an extraordinary opportunity for The Scripps Research Institute to exploit its rich resources for translational advances in diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the devastating brain disease of addiction," said Dr. Koob. "Mark's generosity and foresight in establishing the Pearson Center and Pearson Chair are greatly appreciated and have provided the foundation for an exciting research program dedicated to the development of novel treatments for addiction."

Pearson, a leader in Silicon Valley commercial real estate, is a managing partner at CresaPartners, a national corporate real estate company with 26 offices. He is also co-founder and managing partner of Drawbridge Partners, a real estate development and investment company.

Pearson has also founded companies including Lifespring Health, a program that helps people reduce the cost of health insurance and health and wellness expenses, and Annex Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on providing early-stage financing for technology and biotechnology companies.

"I'm pleased with my decision to give to The Scripps Research Institute," he said, "and I plan to make additional financial commitments in this area of research in both the private and institutional sectors in the years to come."

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A $3 million gift from Mark Pearson established the Pearson Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Research at Scripps Research.