Dick Pickup, who turns 90 in a few months, has seen great strides during his lifetime in areas like cancer and heart disease.
One area where he believes he can make a difference is dementia, which his brother died of seven years ago.
“It’s a horrible disease,” Pickup told the Business Journal. “The last month or two are so devastating. It seems like they’ve made so many strides in researching other health problems. The brain is the last frontier.”
To improve that area of focus, Pickup decided to donate $50 million to Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian to establish the Richard H. Pickup Center for Brain Health.
Pickup has made numerous gifts to Hoag throughout the years, including a $15 million gift in 2017 for the Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute (PFNI), which will host the brain center.
Born and raised in Whittier, Pickup served in the army as “a buck private” before becoming a stockbroker in the late 1950s. He eventually moved to Newport Beach, where he developed a value-oriented investment philosophy similar to the strategy used by Warren Buffett.
“I’ve always been very inquisitive, trying different ways to make money,” he recalled.
He learned early that gambling in Las Vegas or at the racetracks wasn’t the way to earn money. His experience in casinos did give him a leg up on a company that would become a 50-bagger—International Game Technology PLC (NYSE: IGT).
“I still own it,” Pickup said. “Over the years, I have bought a meaningful amount in 10 different stocks, holding about 1 million to 2 million shares of each. I’d hold them 20 to 30 years. I wasn’t out to make a lot of money quick.”
About 20 years ago, he began dabbling in real estate, helping his family firm buy and renovate well-known Newport Beach properties like the Balboa Bay Club, the Vea Hotel and the new Pendry Hotel under the Eagle Four Partners investment firm.
The Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute at Hoag provides care for patients with specific conditions of the brain and spine such as stroke, aneurysms and brain tumors.
It also offers options such as a Phase 1 Alzheimer’s vaccine clinical trial, as well as other Alzheimer’s drug infusion trials, and provides new diagnostic technology such as MR/PET imaging for accurate diagnosis and advanced AI neuropsychological based testing.
The new $50 million gift will enable Hoag to hire world-class neurologists and develop a new facility on the lower campus of Hoag Newport Beach to house the Center for Brain Health.
Instead of focusing on research, the new center will have a “whole family approach” to diseases like dementia.
“Until we find a cure for dementia, we need to emphasize supporting patients and their families to adapt to the day-to-day impact of dementia,” said Dr. Aaron Ritter, director of the Memory & Cognitive Disorders Program at the Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute.
“Focusing on recognizing the treatable conditions that can cause cognitive impairment, we can slow if not reverse a person’s decline. This improves the quality of life for patients and their caregivers.”
Orange County’s population age 65 and over is growing 15% annually, and cases of Alzheimer’s are expected to double by 2040, according to Hoag.
“Hoag is making great strides in the understanding of brain health and Alzheimer’s disease,” Pickup said. “They are on the cutting edge, but there is still so much that is unknown about the brain.”