Editorial: Brain Institute to attract researchers, medical advancement

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

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Yesterday, Pitt officially announced the creation of a new sector of the University: The Brain Institute.

The announcement came at an opportune time, given President Obama’s recent initiation of the BRAIN Initiative, a program calling on the science community to “revolutionize our understanding of the human mind and uncover new ways to treat, prevent and cure brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury,” according to the White House

The Brain Institute, whose fundraising efforts are headed by Peter Strick, chairman of Pitt’s Department of Neurobiology, has already received $30 million from Pitt’s School of Medicine and $15 million from the University, yet still has $120 million left to fundraise.

The institute is planning to hire hundreds of researchers, branching them into centers focusing on neuro-technology and neuro-mapping, among other topics, in an effort to gain a better grasp of the brain’s activities.

The installment of a new branch to Pitt’s neurology-related departments is incredibly commendable, and hopefully will advance the field, as well as provide research opportunities for Pitt undergraduates. The institute will be able to research and analyze several sections of the brain to further advance the knowledge we’ve gained about a variety of neurological diseases and injuries.

The institute has the potential to expand the network between undergraduates and Pitt’s School of Medicine, among other professional and graduate programs related to the Brain Institute. Just as they are in Pitt’s Cancer Institute, undergraduates interested in these fields should be invited to contribute to the developing research these entities plan to conduct.

Pitt’s repute as a pioneer in research is a testament to the need for collaboration on all fronts — particularly combining the minds of undergraduates, graduates and post-graduates to conduct quality research. Such a collaboration will only strengthen the institute’s reach.

As Chancellor Mark Nordenberg said in a press release, “We have the intellectual firepower to take a lead role in the nationwide effort to revolutionize the understanding of the brain.”

In the coming months, the undergraduate student body should look forward to the installment of another research initiative that can not only bolster research capabilities at Pitt, but also produce potentially groundbreaking research in the future.

“The creation of our Brain Institute reflects the high priority that we have assigned to this important work and will position Pitt for even higher levels of impact and achievement in the years ahead,” Nordenberg said.

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