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NIH Record

NINDS, NIMH Hold Joint Council Meeting

By Marian Emr

On Sept. 18, in what may become a precedent-setting event at NIH, NINDS director Dr. Gerald Fischbach and NIMH director Dr. Steven Hyman hosted a joint session of the institutes' advisory councils.

As part of his opening remarks to the assembly, Hyman spoke of the importance of setting the tone for new cooperation between NINDS and NIMH. He went on to describe the resources shared by the two institutes, including buildings on and off the main campus, as well as joint leadership for such important programs as B-MAP, the brain mapping project that will establish a new platform for neuroscience research.

Fischbach acknowledged that the two institutes have "different missions and certainly different constituencies," but called upon everyone "to work hard to find ways to work on what we have in common" and "to overcome years of administrative barriers to collaboration." Citing opportunities for intramural partnerships in particular, Fischbach described the programs currently led by Drs. Story Landis at NINDS and Robert Desimone at NIMH as "a tremendous force for discovery" in neuroscience.

In the discussion that followed the directors' statements, council members generated a range of ideas for collaborative projects, including those designed to attract talented young physician/scientists to the fields of neurology and psychiatry, and to disseminate the latest results of research to health care professionals.

In general, the tenor of the group mirrored the enthusiasm and camaraderie displayed by Fischbach and Hyman. NIMH council member Dr. Myrna Weissman, a professor at Columbia University's New York Psychiatric Institute, was one of several who lauded the efforts of the directors. After all, she quipped, "genes don't segregate by institute."

As he called the session to a close, Fischbach said that he was thrilled and energized by the get-together. "If we can get this much said in an hour, imagine what we can accomplish if we talk all year long."

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