An Oakland County couple has dedicated a substantial financial gift to the Wayne State University School of Medicine to promote research into new therapies for Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions.
Dr. Sindgi Dattu Sastry and Pushpa Sastry have given $1 million to create the Sastry Foundation Clinical Neuroscience Endowed Research Fund to support research in the WSU Department of Neurology.
The Sastrys, of Bloomfield Hills, are the owners of Jogue Inc., one of the nation’s largest developers and producers of flavors and fragrances for food and other products. Dr. Sastry, a chemist, now serves as vice president of the company that he and his wife founded in 1984. Jogue Inc., which distributes its products around the world, has facilities in Plymouth, Northville and Detroit, and in California and Florida.
Dr. Sastry was diagnosed with Parkinson’s about 10 years ago. It began with some trembling in his fingers, but it took some time, and a visit to the Mayo Clinic, to finally determine the diagnosis. He now is treated with medication.
The gift to fund the research comes from the Sastry Foundation, an organization the couple founded to give back to the community.
“At some point, you know how much money you need to live. As you get older, you think differently, about giving back for your good fortune,” Dr. Sastry said. “We’ll have money for our children and grandchildren, but anything beyond that goes to charity and projects like this.”
The Sastrys awarded the gift because of their interest in research. Dr. Sastry holds a doctoral degree in chemistry. “Neurology has been a black box for a long time,” he said. “We hope, with this fund, to promote more research at Wayne State University to help develop new medicines or therapies.”
“We also hope this gift encourages others to contribute to research,” Mrs. Sastry said. “People need to contribute to the society they live in to help the common good.”
The gift is the Sastrys’ third to the School of Medicine. In 1998, they established the Sri Yalgurdrao and Ganga Kulkarni Endowed Scholarship Fund. Named in honor of Mrs. Sastry’s grandparents, the endowment funds scholarships for eligible medical students from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. They created the Shivappa V. Hulbanni, M.D., Endowed Scholarship in 1999 in memory of their good friend, “to remember him as a great humanitarian.”
“This is a tremendous gift for medical research,” said Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., dean of the WSU School of Medicine. “The Sastrys’ commitment to funding research – as well as their commitment to our school of medicine – will serve as a wonderful example for others for decades to come. Contributions such as theirs are especially meaningful because the endowment will continue to fund research that could help millions of people around the world.”
The Sastrys have two sons, Ashok, 37, and Anil, 34. Ashok Sastry, M.D., a 2001 graduate of the Wayne State University School of Medicine, specializes in nephrology and practices in Sarasota, Fla. Anil Sastry, a 2003 graduate of the Wayne State University Law School, is the chief executive officer for Jogue Inc.
The newly established fund will immediately assist the work of Omar Khan, M.D., professor and interim chair of the WSU Department of Neurology. Dr. Khan is an internationally recognized researcher in the field of therapeutic development, genetics and imaging in the field on neurodegenerative disorders.
“I am grateful and humbled by the generosity of the Sastry family in their support of clinical neuroscience research. Their gift will stimulate new areas of research including in-vivo quantification of tissue injury and repair in a variety of neurodegenerative disorders,” Dr. Khan said. “These new initiatives will also promote multidisciplinary work fostering collaborative research that is also being encouraged by the National Institutes of Health. But most importantly, these translational undertakings are likely to improve patient outcomes.”