Family Legacy Inspires Couple to Create Full Scholarships for Stony Brook Medicine Students 

Douglas Brand, MD, knows firsthand the importance of access to education. His grandfather, a Scottish immigrant, was a true role model, carving out a successful career as a machinist while supporting his family and ensuring they had the same opportunities he did. This began with making sure that his children and grandchildren had an education. “When it came to school, my grandfather was very encouraging. He went to every one of his grandchildren’s graduations,” said Douglas, who would become one of the first doctors at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Douglas and his wife, Barbara, PhD, created the Drs. Douglas and Barbara Brand Diversity in Medicine Endowed Scholarship Fund at Stony Brook University as part of their family’s commitment to education. Douglas further explained that his father founded an endowed scholarship at the University of Connecticut, where he was an engineering professor. “His donation provided tuition for one new engineering student each year, and it gave him a lot of joy,” Douglas said. “My father linked his legacy to that university by helping students, and I thought we could do the same at Stony Brook.”

Drs. Barbara and Douglas Brand visiting Stony Brook University Hospital in October 2023. (Photo by Tyler Mooney)
Drs. Barbara and Douglas Brand visiting Stony Brook University Hospital in October 2023. (Photo by Tyler Mooney)

The Brands are determined to leave a lasting legacy at Stony Brook, where they spent the majority of their careers. But the couple didn’t call Stony Brook home right away. Douglas recalled that after moving from North Carolina to Maryland and then to Seattle with their son, he was hired as a doctor at the University of Washington, but there were no jobs for librarians at the time. “We wanted to live in a place where we could both get jobs, and with the hospital opening soon, Stony Brook seemed like a great fit for us.” 

Douglas was one of the first doctors to open Stony Brook University Hospital in 1980, and Barbara worked just across Nicolls Road at the university’s library. She started her job in 1978, a year before Douglas. She recalled that Harry Fritts, the founding chair of the Department of Medicine at Stony Brook, brought her to the hospital while it was being built to show her how it was coming along. “Even though I was already hired, I think Harry wanted to convince Barbara that it was going to be a good place for me to be a part of,” said Douglas.

Both Barbara and Douglas watched Stony Brook change throughout their careers. “It was exciting to be here to open the doors. We were able to design the care and programs from the beginning,” said Douglas. “To see unit after unit open up, adding more and more beds, it was just incredible.” Barbara has watched librarianship grow over the years as well — specifically with the use of computers. She was the head of reference and eventually led the department that focused on inter-library loans. “Part of my job was to figure out which collections Stony Brook needed and to coordinate with other universities to set up arrangements to acquire those collections,” said Barbara. “As computers and software progressed, it became easier for these collection exchanges to happen.”

Part of what Douglas loved about working at the hospital was training the medical students. “Our programs were successful because we had excellent students,” said Douglas. He did notice that, at times, it was difficult for some students to pay for their medical education. Wanting to help, Douglas and Barbara established the Drs. Douglas and Barbara Brand Diversity in Medicine Endowed Scholarship Fund in 2016. Their goal is to ease the financial burden for medical students from diverse backgrounds. 

After planning for their estate and learning of the New York State match program and Simons Infinity Investment, the couple recently added $500,000 to their scholarship to cover the total cost of medical school tuition. This additional investment will provide a total of $750,000 to their endowment with the state match, as well as unlock $750,000 to the university’s unrestricted endowment with the Simons Foundation gift. “This was a wonderful development in our investment. We had no idea there would be matching gifts,” Douglas said. “It is great knowing that we’ll be able to help even more students than originally thought.” By adding to their endowment now and making a further generous gift in their estate, they are thrilled to be following in Douglas’s father’s footsteps.

“Barbara and Douglas Brand are an important part of the school’s legacy,” said Renaissance School of Medicine Dean Peter Igarashi, MD. “Our students will benefit for generations from this generous gift. Their support will allow our students to focus on their coursework and prepare for their future careers without the burden of student loans.”

Marquise Soto, Class of 2025, is the first scholarship recipient. (Photo courtesy of Stony Brook Advancement)
Marquise Soto, Class of 2025, is the first scholarship recipient. (Photo courtesy of Stony Brook Advancement)

The Brands moved off Long Island after they retired but often traveled back to Stony Brook for doctor’s visits. “Every year we’d come back, we’d see all the new buildings and offices they had built,” said Barbara. This past October, they visited the hospital for a tour and met with Igarashi and William Wertheim, MD, the interim executive vice president of Stony Brook Medicine.

They also met Marquise Soto, Class of 2025, their first scholarship recipient. Soto said he worked throughout his undergraduate studies to pay his way through school. This scholarship will allow him to focus solely on medical school. “My main priority is to become the best physician I can be,” said Soto. “This scholarship has afforded me peace of mind, knowing that I am one step closer to paying off my student loans.” He hopes to give back to future students and contribute to their education and professional advancement like the Brands contributed to his.

“Knowing that Marquise can focus on his studies gives us the same joy my father felt. And that is a good feeling,” Douglas said. “We are very happy to be a small part of the bigger picture at Stony Brook.”

Read more about the Brands in the Stony Brook Magazine Winter 2023 Edition.

-Christine McGrath

Related posts

The latest On Social Media

Article Categories

Subscribe to SB Matters