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Love and Brain Power

Friday, October 21, 2016

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Dear Tulane Community,

Like most great stories, the newly launched Tulane Brain Institute started not in the mind, but in the heart. Shortly after his family relocated from New Jersey to New Orleans in the summer of 1976, Bill Marko met Marta Robidoux. She asked him to a dance. They fell in love and married after college.

In their years together, the Markos experienced many joys, as well as trials, including the diagnosis of both of Marta's parents with dementia and Alzheimer's. The news brought pain but also a determination by the couple to fund research to unlock the mysteries of the brain. This goal would eventually bring the Markos back to Bill's alma mater where, as an undergraduate, Marta would sometimes break from her own studies in Lafayette to sit in on Bill's classes. The couple was side by side again on Tulane's campus as they made the lead gift to establish the Tulane Brain Institute.

The Institute will bring faculty from the schools of Medicine, Science and Engineering, Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Liberal Arts and the Tulane National Primate Research Center together in a brave, bold and boundary-crossing effort to understand the body's most complex and vital organ.

The Brain Institute will help Tulane become a true leader in brain science and vastly expand an area in which more than 40 faculty members are currently engaged. Most of all, Marta and Bill's generosity will allow researchers to find solutions for the brain-related issues, injuries and diseases that affect so many individuals and families.

The Markos' gift will build the Brain Institute's administrative offices and labs for the Memory and Cognition Research Cluster, which will be named in their honor. It will support the Marko Spark Innovation Research Fund, which encourages collaborative, risk-taking brain research across the university. The gift will also establish an endowment to provide support for future Brain Institute research initiatives.

Finally, the gift will make us all grateful that when Marta asked Bill to that CYO dance many decades ago, he had the brains to say, "Yes."

Signature of Mike Fitts