Gwill Newman, 78, a champion for mental health research and first NARSAD president, died August 30 at her retirement home in Tesuque, N.M. Newman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and dedicated much of her life to work for better treatments and cures for brain and behavior disorders.
Newman’s son, Fred, died in 1982 at the age of 22 from schizophrenia. Motivated by her experience as someone with a family member suffering from mental illness, Newman was an advocate for not only her son, but all those who live with brain and behavior disorders.
Her passion moved her to lead two mental illness research organizations. From 1986 to 1989, Newman was the first president of the new National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD). Today NARSAD is the world’s leading donor-supported organizations dedicated to finding the causes, improved treatments, and cures for psychiatric illness. Since Newman’s tenure, NARSAD has awarded more than $261.6 million in 3,832 grants to 3,132 scientists around the world. Newman was also the president and later chair of the Brain Research Foundation in Chicago.
In addition, Newman worked for social causes in her Cleveland community, including integrating the Junior League and supporting efforts to save Playhouse Square in Cleveland, the country’s largest performing arts center outside of New York City. She also published a book, My Son’s Name Was Fred, about her son’s struggle with schizophrenia.