A new professorship in neuroscience honors a legacy.
Philanthropic gifts are not created in isolation: they are born from a context of dedicated service and generosity–sometimes over a lifetime. The bequest of Grace Kennison Alpert ’51 to establish the Samuel I. Kennison, MD, and Bertha S. Kennison Professorship in Clinical Neuroscience is one such gift. By supporting critical research and teaching that will improve the lives of patients, the gift honors the legacy of both its namesakes and donor.
The daughter of the late Samuel and Bertha Kennison, Alpert was born in Providence and was a lifelong resident of the city. Her father was a general family practitioner and pathologist at The Miriam and president of its medical staff; her mother was one of the first life members of The Miriam Hospital Women’s Association. Grace Alpert was a generous longtime supporter of the hospital—and served as a Miriam Hospital governor and on the board of the Women’s Association, of which she was a life member. In 2005, she received the association’s recognition award.
Like her father, Alpert served her community as a clinician. She received her AB in psychology from Brown in 1951 and worked as staff clinical psychologist for the Rhode Island Mental Hygiene Services; clinical psychologist and consultant for Project Grow, a program of the Providence School Department; a consultant for the Rhode Island Training School for Girls; and a clinical psychologist in solo private practice. At Brown, she was active as a reunion volunteer and member of the College Hill Society.
Alpert died in August 2013, and is survived by her husband, Wesley Alpert, former president and CEO of Alpert Brothers Inc. Grace Alpert was inspired by Brown’s national prominence in brain science to make a gift in this area. She wished to support the applications of neuroscience discoveries that would benefit patients not just in Providence, but all over the world.
The inaugural Kennison Professor, Karen L. Furie, MPH ’87 MD’90 RES’94, chair of Alpert Medical School’s Department of Neurology, can fulfill that promise. Furie, who received her Master of Public Health from Harvard, completed her medical internship at The Miriam Hospital and a neurology residency and fellowship in cerebrovascular disease at Rhode Island Hospital. She then joined the faculty of the Massachusetts General Hospital Stroke Service, where she served as director for several years.
Furie was then recruited as chair of neurology at Alpert Medical School and chief of neurology at Rhode Island, The Miriam, and Bradley hospitals. This joint recruitment was a key strategy in the Brown-Lifespan partnership to advance research, teaching, and patient care in brain science. She is also the executive
chief of neurology at Butler Hospital and the Providence VA Medical Center.
Furie’s prodigious research endeavors have defined optimal therapy for stroke prevention, clarified the role of
high-dose vitamins for treatment of hyperhomocysteinemia, and provided insight into the pathophysiology of ischemic stroke. She studies developing novel therapeutic targets for intervention and mentors medical students, residents, and fellows who are focused on patient-oriented research.
Grace Alpert’s gift will support this critical work, advancing research, teaching, and clinical care in neurology. “Grace Alpert’s bequest represents a tremendous opportunity for the department and a new chapter in our growth,” Furie says. “It’s consistent with the considerable enthusiasm and investment that we’ve seen across Brown and Lifespan in developing the neurosciences as a premier program and an academic partnership.”