West Virginia University and Johns Hopkins will partner in a new international medical research center focused on fundamental cognitive neuroscience and the development of new drugs and diagnostics to treat and diagnose neurological and cognitive disorders.
The nonprofit venture--the only major institute in the world focusing on human memory--was announced recently by U.S. Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.V.). The institute will be named the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, after Rockefeller's mother, who, after battling Alzheimer's disease for nearly a decade, succumbed to the disease in 1992.
The Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute will begin as an $80 million independent research center, which will be headquartered on the campus of West Virginia University in Morganstown; research also will be conducted at Hopkins' Montgomery County campus. The institute will be the largest scientific research venture in the history of West Virginia.
Rockefeller worked with representatives from WVU, Hopkins, top researchers in neuroscience and private sector leaders for nearly two years in organizing and planning for the launch of the institute, which expects to begin its research operations in early 2000.
"The creation of the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute is a deeply personal event in my life and the life of my family," said Rockefeller, who will serve as its founding chairman. "After watching my mother suffer from the agony of Alzheimer's disease, I am determined to work to spare others from this and other illnesses that afflict the mind. The institute is committed to attracting the best--the very best--researchers in the world to come together and collaborate to find cures and treatments for this and other terrible, degrading diseases."
The research team will be led by Daniel Alkon, a 29-year veteran of the National Institutes of Health and an internationally recognized authority in memory research.
Alkon is currently a medical director in the U.S. Public Health Service, National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke at NIH, where he is chief of the Laboratory of Adaptive Systems. His laboratory conducts a multidisciplinary research program on the molecular and biophysical bases of memory dysfunction and neurological disorders, particularly Alzheimer's disease.
The collaborative partnership agreement that Hopkins has signed with the Rockefeller Institute calls for an exchange of researchers, faculty and students, as well as university-wide participation and cooperation in the institute's principal areas of research.
The institute also is negotiating a number of collaborations with partners in Asia and Europe. It is expected that these partnerships will help attract the best scientific and research minds to the Morgantown and Montgomery County laboratories, creating a worldwide network of research and discovery.
"Johns Hopkins University is honored to join Sen. Rockefeller, West Virginia University and the international collaborators in a partnership around the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute," said Gary Ostrander, associate dean for research in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. "The institute will be a key player in continuing Johns Hopkins' international leadership in scientific research."