DJ Steve Aoki donates $20K and teams up with WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute

West Virginia Headlines

Steve Aoki, a Grammy-nominated DJ who’s worked with the likes of Linkin Park, Blink 182 and the Backstreet Boys, has formed an unlikely partnership with Dr. Ali Rezai and the RNI at WVU after sharing a passion for neurological research.
(STEVE AOKI PHOTO)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – World-renowned DJ and two-time Grammy-nominated producer Steve Aoki is taking his collaborations to a whole new level by partnering with the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI), to which he donated $20,000.

The collaboration came about after Aoki and RNI’s Executive Chair Dr. Ali Rezai both spoke at the Collision conference, a major tech event that drew more than 32,000 virtual attendees in 2020. According to a release, the two immediately connected over their shared interest in neuroscience. After learning about the innovative work RNI does with conditions like addiction, Alzheimer’s, and dementia, Aoki decided to donate $20,000.

“Were were pleased,” Rezai said. “I wasn’t surprised because I know Steve and Steve Aoki Foundation have a great interest in raising awareness for people who have a neurological condition, brain science, and technology.”

Globally-recognized DJ Steve Aoki and his Aoki Foundation recently surprised the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute with a $20,000 donation during a live streaming event on Twitch. (PROVIDED PHOTO)

The donation announcement came during a virtual Celebrity Pokemon Box Break with Aoki and #RealKingPokeon, a Pokemon-focused streaming event hosted on the gaming platform Twitch. Rezai said roughly 6,000 people were watching when the check was presented.

That is significant, RNI’s executive chair said, because Aoki uses his celebrity to bring awareness to issues many are not aware of. Case in point, there are about five million people in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s and roughly 100 million suffering from neurological problems, so awareness needs to be raised.

By using his platform, Rezai said, Aoki is really making a difference.

Dr. Rezai

That really helps us raise awareness. The donation that was provided helps us have community programs here for support groups for people with addiction, support groups for people with Alzheimer’s disease and helps us raise awareness and provide our community services for the region that we do for patients and their families who are impacted by dementia, Alzheimer’s and addiction. So very helpful and this is what we need, it’s more awareness.

Dr. Ali Rezai – Executive Chair, RNI

This is why Rezai said RNI is “very appreciative” of Aoki and his foundation. They are passionate about mental health and proved it, he said.

Rezai hopes to see more celebrities doing the same thing in the future. He doesn’t think all the attention has to go to RNI and neuroscience, but awareness needs to be brought to critical health issues. He went as far as saying it’s “fundamental” for celebrities to use their influence for good because it helps support patients and their families.

When other celebrities follow in Aoki’s footsteps, they will create connections with new communities. That is what Aoki has done, Rezai said.

Outside of RNI

Through his connection with RNI, he now has forged a relationship with West Virginia. Rezai said Aoki is even using a smart ring RNI designed to monitor health metrics. Plus he added the DJ expressed a great deal of interest in visiting West Virginia.

“He’s using our technology and his creativity and his art and science is helping accelerate the understanding of neuroscience and brain conditions,” Rezai said. “It’s all linked together, so we’re really appreciative for our partnership with Steve and the steve Aoki Foundation. We look forward to having him visit West Virginia and come here and speak to the people who love him here and also raise further awareness.”

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