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The Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute is dedicated to advancing the neurosciences and reducing human suffering from disorders of the nervous system through outstanding clinical care, world-class research, and advanced education.
In October 1916, a plane crashed at night in a French field. The young American aviator Norman Prince broke both legs and suffered serious brain trauma. Three days later, he died. Norman Prince was a decorated pilot who survived 122 aerial combats and time as a prisoner of war. Prince was also a pioneer, co-founding the Lafayette Escadrille, a squadron of the French Air Service composed largely of American volunteers, one full year before the United States entered World War I. He was given a hero’s burial.
Norman Prince’s trailblazing spirit lives on in the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute, which, for the first time, unites Rhode Island’s best minds in brain science to improve health and extend life for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, autism, traumatic brain injury, and other diseases and disorders of the brain and nervous system. The human brain is the greatest challenge for academic medicine, and the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute is poised to meet that challenge.
The institute was established in 2010 with a $15 million gift from the Frederick Henry Prince 1932 Trust, which was created by Norman Prince’s father, Frederick Henry Prince, a Boston entrepreneur. The gift from the trust to Rhode Island Hospital was the single largest gift in the hospital’s history. Rhode Island Hospital was selected for the gift by Elizabeth J.M. Prince of Newport and her children, Diana Oehrli, Guillaume de Ramel and Regis de Ramel—all three of whom have followed the family tradition as pilots and philanthropists.
“My children and I believe that were he alive today, my great-grandfather would have been as excited as we are to direct this gift from his trust,” said Elizabeth J.M. Prince. “As a philanthropist and entrepreneur, he would have recognized the enormous potential that this institute can foster. Most of us have known someone with a neurological impairment—it may be from an accident such as my great-uncle Norman Prince’s brain injury, or a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy or other illnesses. This gift will help researchers and clinicians conduct the groundbreaking research necessary to treat the millions of people who suffer from these illnesses every day.