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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

NIH Celebrates Opening of State-of-the-Art Neuroscience Research Center

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is celebrating the opening of the brand new Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center, a state of the art research facility on NIH campus that will foster new collaborations among neuroscientists. A two-day scientific symposium and dedication ceremony is taking place today and tomorrow in order to celebrate this new facility, which will bring together neuroscientists from 10 institutes and centers across the NIH in hopes of advancing scientific understanding of the nervous system in health and disease. (A live broadcast of the event is available here.)

            The Center will bring together more than 800 scientists in 85 laboratories from the following NIH Institutes and Centers:

  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
  • National Institute of Mental Health
  • National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
  • National Eye Institute
  • National Human Genome Research Institute
  • National Institute on Aging
  • National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
  • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
  • National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

            The shared facilities available in the new center include a peptide sequencing facility, an MRI suite with one of the largest MRI devices in the world, and a light imaging facility. According to the NIH, collaborators at the Porter Center will carry out research into basic and clinical neuroscience, including:

  • Identifying how genetic variability contributes to neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson's, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
  • Studying the genetics of brain development, including factors that contribute to developmental disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Understanding how inherited gene mutations contribute to hearing loss
  • Studying the genetics of Gaucher disease as a model to understand lysosomal storage disorders
  • Working to understand the mechanisms underlying nerve cell death in neurodegenerative disorders and trying to identify drugs that can prevent this loss
  • Understanding the structure and function of ion channels and transporters that allow communication within and between nerve cells
  • Studying how nerve cells communicate to help us better understand how we learn and remember, and exploring diseases in which nerve cells do not communicate effectively
  • Using tools to turn on or turn off various neural circuits in model organisms to determine what role these circuits play in behaviors such as decision making
  • Using large-scale microscopy to develop maps of brain circuits of the central nervous system to better understand the basis of behavior
  • Using the olfactory system as a model to understand how the brain can regrow nerve cells and make new connections after disease or injury
  • Dissecting the neural basis of chronic pain

            The Center will also feature a public art gallery that will celebrate the intersection of neuroscience and art, with initial artwork by former NIH artist-in-residence Rebecca Kamen, MFA, a professor emeritus formerly at Northern Virginia Community College.

            The new building is named for John Edward Porter, a former congressman, member of the House Appropriations Committee, chair of the subcommittee that funded NIH, and a faithful supporter of biomedical research and the NIH mission, the NIH stated in a press release

            “The concept for this building first arose when we saw a need for a place that could bring together scientists studying all aspects of the brain. We are delighted that the Porter Neuroscience Research Center is officially open and look forward to the many innovative discoveries that are bound to come from the programs in that building,” said Story C. Landis, PhD, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

            See more information about the new center at