Ottawa couple supports innovative brain health research and leaves a legacy using monthly credit card gifts
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2022
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of how financial gifts to uOttawa’s Faculty of Medicine and its affiliated institutes create exciting new opportunities to bring together top-flight scientists in advancing collaborative research on some of medicine’s most pressing problems.
The Mark and Gail Marcogliese Graduate Fellowship is one of those deeply generous gifts, helping fund some of the most innovative ideas in neuroscience and paving the way to scientific advances, perhaps even breakthroughs down the line.
The retired Ottawa couple’s motivation is simple: Help humanity and leave a philanthropic legacy for future generations of their family.
“Despite the ups and downs, the good things and bad things that happen in life, we've really been pretty fortunate,” says Mark Marcogliese, who retired as an assistant director at Statistics Canada. “So we wanted to do something that could help other people and give back to the community.”
Members of their family have been directly impacted by diseases related to the brain, such as bipolar disorder and dementia, so the couple were interested in steering their donations toward supporting scientific explorations into the body’s most mysterious organ.
“We know from experience that the brain is not well understood. Therefore, we thought if we put something together that helped research related to the brain perhaps that could shed light on issues that might lead to some kind of treatment. We thought that would be a legacy that we could leave,” he says.
Their graduate fellowship for research at the University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute (uOBMRI) directly benefits learners.
Alex Castro, a second-year clinical psychology graduate student who is conducting neuroscientific research while also training to become a clinical psychologist, is a beneficiary.
Castro says the family’s gifts have been a major help to her burgeoning research career, allowing her to focus on a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to investigate the underlying mechanisms of memory throughout aging.
With the family’s funding, she’s proposed a collaborative research program with Dr. Patrick Davidson, director of the Neuropsychology Lab at uOttawa, and Dr. Sara Tremblay, head scientist at the Neuromodulation Lab at the Royal Mental Health Centre.
The Marcogliese family has deep connections to uOttawa. Gail Marcogliese is a graduate of the nursing school. One of their sons, Paul, is a 2016 PhD graduate of the Faculty of Medicine, studying neuroscience at the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology (BMI). Starting in June, he will be leading his own lab at the University of Manitoba.
One of the couple’s goals is ensuring that up-and-coming research stars at uOttawa can clearly describe their science to the general public, not just colleagues in their academic discipline.
“We know they can talk to their academic supervisors and use what I call the $10 words. But if you're working on something like Parkinson's, for instance, you really need to be able to talk to the people who have Parkinson's and their families. They don't know those $10 words,” he says. “So that's one of the goals I have: To help get researchers used to explaining their work to non-academics so they can understand it and appreciate it more.”
Mark and Gail Marcogliese give their uOttawa gift monthly with a credit card, something they’ve found straightforward and easy to budget for.
“We're not multimillionaires or anything like that so we did not have the resources to provide the funding all at once. We spread it out over a five-year period so we could budget for it. And giving with a credit card allows us to set it up for once a month. If you have a particular type of card, you could get points and it may work out to your advantage,” Mark Marcogliese says.
Consider supporting the University of Ottawa.
The Faculty of Medicine Scholarship for Graduate Research awards a scholarship to a PhD student who has distinguished themselves through their research conducted as part of their program of study.