UCLA receives $10 million to launch Howard and Irene Levine Family Center for Movement Disorders

Center will support research on Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, foster development of physician-scientists in neurology
Group photo featuring (L–R) Left to right: Dr. John Mazziotta, Irene Levine, Howard Levine, Chancellor Gene Block and Dr. Jeff Bronstein.
Left to right: Dr. John Mazziotta, Irene Levine, Howard Levine (seated), Chancellor Gene Block and Dr. Jeff Bronstein.

Donations totaling $10 million from longtime UCLA supporters Howard and Irene Levine and their family foundation will be used to establish the UCLA Howard and Irene Levine Family Center for Movement Disorders at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. 

Movement disorders, a category of more than 30 neurological conditions causing abnormal body movements, affect approximately 40 million people each year. Perhaps best known is Parkinson’s disease, which affects 1 million Americans and more than 10 million people worldwide; the disease worsens over time, gradually robbing people of coordinated movement and impairing certain non-motor functions as well.

The Howard and Irene Levine Family Foundation will provide the resources for five new endowments in the department of neurology at the school of medicine: a permanent-appointment chair, three term-appointment chairs and a movement disorders research fund — all of which will support basic science research on Parkinson’s disease under the leadership of the director of the new Levine Center.

The research fund will also support a symposium on movement disorders featuring leaders in Parkinson’s disease research, with the inaugural event scheduled for March 25–26 at UCLA. (see sidebar)

“The visionary philanthropy of the Levine family will be a complete game changer in the field of movement disorders, to the benefit of patients across the country and around the world,” said Dr. John Mazziotta, vice chancellor for health sciences and CEO of UCLA Health. “UCLA is deeply honored to play a significant part in this process.”

The donations, the Levine family said, are meant to honor Dr. Jeff Bronstein, UCLA’s Fred Silton Professor of Movement Disorders and director of the UCLA Movement Disorders Program and Clinic.

“The overwhelming generosity of the Levine family will make possible unparalleled excellence in movement disorders research and care,” said Bronstein, who has been the beneficiary of several gifts from the Levine family to support his research. “This transformative philanthropy will provide inspiration and funding for many early career physician-scientists who hopefully will bring us closer to cures for neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.”

The UCLA Movement Disorders Program is nationally recognized for its movement disorder care, having been named a Wilson Disease Association Center of Excellence and a Huntington Disease Society of America Center of Excellence — designations that signify the provision of comprehensive, high-quality care.

“This new gift is our family’s way of honoring Dr. Jeff Bronstein, with whom we — and especially our father — have had a long and close relationship,” said the Levines’ son, David Levine, executive director of the Howard and Irene Levine Family Foundation. “I speak for my brother, Jay Levine, and my sister, Marci Dollinger, when I say we are thrilled to be able to make our parents’ philanthropic wishes become reality during their lifetime.”

“This gift comes from our hearts,” said Irene Levine. “Jeff Bronstein is family to us. Our relationship started with clinical care 20 years ago and has become a true friendship that has meant so much to us. Over the years, we’ve watched Jeff’s two girls grow up; our two families have become close. It’s been wonderful.”

In addition to their medical philanthropy, Howard and Irene Levine have been dedicated supporters of the UCLA Anderson School of Management and the school’s Ziman Center for Real Estate. Their philanthropy enabled UCLA Anderson to establish the Howard and Irene Levine Program in Housing and Social Responsibility, which includes a graduate course, a distinguished speaker series on affordable housing, an annual housing symposium and a distinguished fellows program. A 2018 gift from their family foundation provided resources for the Ziman Center to launch the Howard and Irene Levine Affordable Housing Development Program, designed to provide professionals with the knowledge and skills to develop affordable housing.

Howard Levine is the founder and former president and CEO of ARCS Commercial Mortgage, which was one of the largest providers of commercial and multifamily mortgage financing. He was active on the California board of directors of Mercy Housing, a large, not-for-profit provider of affordable housing. He has served on numerous other boards and is a founding board member of the Ziman Center and a member of the advisory board of the UCLA Ziman Real Estate Alumni Group.

Levine earned his M.B.A. in urban land economics from UCLA Anderson in 1967 after receiving his bachelor’s in accounting from New York University. In 2011, UCLA Anderson recognized him as one of the school’s 100 Inspirational Alumni.