Insuring Future Brain Research at UBC

Irene Graham. Photo: Darin Dueck
Irene Graham. Photo: Darin Dueck

“We wanted our estate to count,” says Irene Graham, a UBC donor who has created a generous estate gift for brain research at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health (DMCBH). “I saw the words brain research and that ended my search, because of the three members of my family who were severely impacted by brain disease.”

When Irene’s husband, Jock, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, they were immediately told there was no cure. Irene knew this meant watching the intelligent, witty man she’d married slowly disappear. Additionally, she was already caring for her mother, who had vascular dementia and her stepfather whose various conditions included Parkinson’s disease.

“Whatever comes, it can’t be stopped, and it can’t be reversed,” says Irene. “And that is just so terrible.”

Irene and Jock were making decisions about their estate when an acquaintance brought the work being done at UBC to their attention. As part of her estate gift, which includes a bequest and a gift of her RRIF, Irene chose to support the DMCBH by establishing Charitable Insured Annuities. She purchased annuities that pay her a guaranteed income for life and every month a portion of that income is put towards life insurance owned by UBC. Eventually, proceeds of the life insurance policies will fund brain research at UBC.

In the future, Irene’s generosity will help support the quality and impact of research-based activities at the DMCBH. It will allow the university to establish Chairs and Professorships that attract top talent, and provide seed funding for important projects.

“Gifts from committed donors such as Irene Graham contribute greatly to the work of the Centre,” says Dr. Max Cynader, former Director of the DMCBH. “Funding is vital for research into brain-related disorders, which directly or indirectly affect over 20% of Canadians.”

Since setting up her estate gift, Irene has made other contributions to support brain research at the DMCBH, citing her belief that fighting brain disease is a collective effort.

“My gifts, combined with other gifts, will play a role in this important research,” she says, adding that the contributions seemed like a fitting tribute to her family.

For Irene, this dedication not only stems from personal experience but a strong desire to improve the outcome for those afflicted as well as their family members.

“Then future victims of brain disease and their loved ones will never to hear those terrible words—there is no treatment. They will have hope.”