NINDS, NIMH Mark 50 Years of Neuroscience Research
By Shannon E. Garnett
On the Front Page...
To commemorate their 50th anniversaries, NINDS and NIMH will
cosponsor a 2-day scientific symposium Celebrating 50
Years of Brain Research: New Discoveries, New
Hope bringing together leading scientists and noted
researchers whose work spans a diverse spectrum of basic, clinical
and translational research on neurological and psychiatric disorders.
The conference, which will be held on Oct. 9-10, in the Natcher
auditorium, represents 50 years of advances in brain research and
treatments for brain disorders.
Many of the profound gains in our knowledge of the brain and
treatments for brain diseases over the past 50 years are due largely
to research sponsored by NINDS and NIMH. This symposium will
be a celebration of the remarkable progress that has been made in
understanding the nervous system and the disorders that affect it,
and serves not only as a fitting conclusion to the Decade of the
Brain, but also as an appropriate beginning to the first decade of
brain science in this century.
Top scientists from all over the country will gather to explore past
accomplishments and current excitement in the field, and to discuss
the potential for new findings and cures in the future. Topics range
from processes such as synaptic transmission and brain plasticity to
disorders such as epilepsy, stroke, prion diseases, and AIDS to
functions such as memory, emotion and attention.
|Dr. Paul Greengard (l) and Dr. Stanley Prusiner
Of special note is a distinguished panel featuring four Nobel
laureates Dr. Eric R. Kandel of the Center for
Neurobiology and Behavior at the Columbia University College of
Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Stanley B. Prusiner of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of California in San Francisco, Dr. Paul Greengard of the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience at the Rockefeller University and Dr. Torsten
Wiesel, president emeritus of the Rockefeller University. This group
will speak on the second day of the symposium.
|Dr. Torsten Wiesel (l) and Dr. Eric Kandel
The following day, Oct. 11, NINDS and NIMH will sponsor an
educational program for members of Congress, their spouses and
staff to discuss major accomplishments during the last half century,
and the scientific opportunities they have made possible.
A web site developed for the symposium www.50brain.org includes a
complete agenda and online registration forms. For more information call 1-866-50-BRAIN or email 50BRAIN@masimax.com.
A History of Subdivision
NINDS was created by Congress on Aug. 15, 1950, as the National
Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness (the institute has
been renamed several times before achieving its current name).
NINDS twice has been divided to form two additional NIH
institutes, the National Eye Institute in 1968, and the National
Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders in 1988.
More than 600 disorders afflict the nervous system, striking an
estimated 50 million Americans each year. Common disorders such
as stroke, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and autism are well-known.
Others are rare. Throughout its history, NINDS has directed the
course of research on many of these disorders by supporting and
conducting a broad range of research on the healthy and diseased
brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves.
This extraordinary half-century has seen NINDS-supported
scientists develop new diagnostic tools, therapies and models of
disease that have significantly expanded our understanding of
neurological disorders and translated into better treatments and
methods of prevention.
NINDS will continue to explore new avenues in medical
science such as cell replacement and gene-transfer
strategies, transgenic models of disease, surgical advances and the
development of new therapeutic drugs, and xenotransplantation.
NIMH One of the 'Founding Four'
The National Institute of Mental Health one of the first
four NIH institutes was formally established on Apr. 15,
1949. Its mission is to reduce the burden of mental illness through
research on mind, brain and behavior. According to the landmark
study, "Global Burden of Disease," commissioned by the World
Health Organization and the World Bank, mental disorders represent
four of the 10 leading causes of disability for persons age 5 and
older. Among "developed" nations, including the U.S., major
depression is the leading cause of disability.
Over the past half century, NIMH research has opened new
windows of opportunity in our nation's effort to reduce the immense
burden of mental and behavioral disorders. Sustained investments in
basic brain and behavioral science have positioned NIMH to take
advantage of a wealth of opportunities in neuroscience, molecular
genetics, behavioral science and brain imaging. NIMH-funded
scientists are making great strides in translating new knowledge
about brain function into researchable clinical questions, and are
initiating innovative clinical trials of new pharmacological and
NIMH attaches high priority to research that is immediately relevant
to public health, including the epidemiology of mental disorders,
prevention and early intervention research, and studies designed to
seek ways of improving the quality and accessibility of mental health
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