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The Brain Research Institute began at UCLA more than 50 years ago, under the leadership of Horace “Tid” Magoun, John French and Donald Lindsley. These founding neuroscientists created an organization that not only produced important research but also served as a magnet for outstanding faculty and graduate students.

Today’s BRI continues this tradition, encompassing nearly 300 faculty members in 27 departments across six schools. The BRI’s special role is to nurture the cross pollination of ideas, and to foster novel collaborations. This mission touches all aspects of neuroscience from molecules to the mind, from the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside. Our projects span traditional disciplinary boundaries, as do our graduate and postdoctoral training programs. The BRI accelerates the movement of ideas from “bench to bedside to business,” as our scientists explore ways to reduce the burdens that brain disorders impose on patients, families, and society.

The BRI’s overarching goal—and its major achievement—has been to foster and improve multidisciplinary collaborations. This work has increasingly permitted the identification of pathogenic mechanisms and the formulation of new therapeutic approaches. Among the research areas that exemplify such translational collaborations are Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, neurofibromatosis, stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Advances in these areas are contributing to UCLA’s emergence as a leader in translating basic neuroscience research into clinical and technological applications.

Among the overlapping administrative units that together serve UCLA’s extraordinary community, the Brain Research Institute is unique in embracing all aspects of basic neuroscience. BRI members’s investigations span the genetic, molecular, cellular, systems, and behavioral levels. Members study the normal structure and workings of the nervous system, its development, its cognitive functions, its derangement by disease and injury, and the means of its repair and protection. BRI-associated researchers use advanced technologies ranging from genomics and proteomics to magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography to biosensors and microelectromechanical systems. Many of these investigations are possible only through multidisciplinary collaborations among BRI members.

The BRI works closely with other neuroscience units on campus. These units include the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior; basic science and clinical departments in the David Geffen School of Medicine (especially the Departments of Neurology, Neurobiology, Human Genetics, and Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, and the Division of Neurosurgery); the College of Letters and Science’s Division of Life Sciences (especially the Departments of Physiological Science and Psychology); the School of Engineering and Applied Science (especially its new Department of Bioengineering); and other centers and laboratories, including the Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center, the Mental Retardation Research Center, the Crump Institute of Biological Imaging, the Laboratory of NeuroImaging (LONI), and the California Nanosystems Institute. The BRI’s special contributions to this community derive from its ability to build research, educational, and administrative collaborations across the potentially constraining boundaries of disciplines, departments, and schools.

 

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