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Institute for Brain Sciences to Celebrate Launch Friday

Provost Peter Lange and other top Duke officials will launch the university's new Institute for Brain Sciences at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, in the Blue Express Dining Hall in the Levine Science Research Center.

Senior Vice Chancellor Dr. R. Sanders Williams and institute Director David Fitzpatrick will also speak at the ceremony "Transcending the Boundaries."

The institute, an outgrowth of the university's strategic plan, has funding to become a research incubator for Duke faculty to open up new lines of inquiry, and also a hub for recruiting new faculty who may straddle multiple departments and research centers, said Fitzpatrick, whose own work focuses on how circuits in the brain develop and become programmed for various functions.

Duke's research into brain function is now spread across a number of units on campus, including the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, the Department of Neurobiology, the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, the Center For Cognitive Neuroscience, the Department of Pharmacology, the Biomedical Engineering Department, the Center For Brain Imaging And Analysis, the Conte Center For The Neuroscience Of Depression, the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center, the Center For Neuroeconomic Studies and parts of the Institute For Genome Sciences And Policy.

"Our goal it to make this a collective enterprise, to make the whole more than the sum of its parts," Fitzpatrick said in October. This new pooling of Duke's resources will seamlessly examine neuroscience from the level of molecules up to human thinking and behavior.

In the strategic plan, the new institute has been charged with addressing fundamental questions of brain function that will have significant impact in the clinic and in the realm of public policy. These include developing new ways to image brain structure and function, understanding the relation between neural circuits and behavior, exploring genetic variability in behavioral traits and cognition, relating brain function to ethical and moral behavior, and relating economic decisions to brain states.