Dame Stephanie Shirley donates £1M to PWC

Published Dec 2011

Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley, a pioneering figure of the IT industry now turned philanthropist, has pledged £1 million to the Patrick Wild Centre. The donation will go towards creating a world-class, state-of-the-art imaging suite which will enable PWC scientists conduct their research in new ways.

Dame Stephanie founded the software company FI Group, now known as Xansa / Steria, in the 1960s. She adopted the name “Steve” to help her in the male-dominated business environment of the day.

Since the death of her son Giles, 35, who suffered from autism and epilepsy, Dame Stephanie has increasingly focused her energy on philanthropic work through her foundation. The Shirley Foundation is one of the top grant-giving foundations in the UK with well over £50 million grants awarded. One of its aims is to support scientific research to discover the causes of autism.

Dame Stephanie said: “The big question is what causes autism as distinct from what it looks like. Research has moved beyond looking at its consequences to examine how biology, genetics and behaviour all link together. Results cannot be guaranteed but my hope is that this imaging suite will attract more quality researchers to focus on autism.”

Peter Kind, professor of developmental neuroscience and co-Director of the Centre, added: “It is becoming clear that many forms of autism result from changes in how brain cells talk to each other. Modern imaging techniques allow us to monitor brain cell communication to gain insights into the potential causes of and treatments for autism.”

Dr Andrew Stanfield, consultant psychiatrist and co-Director of the Centre continued: “We are incredibly grateful to Dame Stephanie for this generous gift, which we hope will play a part in developing better treatments for people with autism and related disorders.”


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