Peter L. Strick, PhD
The focus of the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute is clear: It’s all about the science. Basic science leads to discoveries that lay the foundation for new treatments and cures for brain disorders. That is why the Brain Institute is organized to provide critical support for Pitt’s community of basic neuroscientists (more than 150 strong, and counting!) in their quest to unravel the mysteries of normal and abnormal brain function.
We face the same dilemma with every current day major neurological problem —Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson’s, stroke, autism, addiction, mental illness – in that while we can detect these disorders, and we can describe their natural history of progression, we can do little else. This situation has gone unchanged for more than 40 years, and without research at the most basic level we will be stuck without effective treatments and preventive measures 20 years from now. New treatments and cures won’t come until we lay the scientific foundation for them. Therefore, the overall strategy of the Brain Institute is to support the many centers of excellence that already exist at Pitt, to create new areas of expertise, such as the Live Like Lou Center for ALS Research, and stimulate high-risk, high-reward science in areas where we can have great impact.
Brain Institute associate director Nathan Urban (CAS 1991 and FAS 1998) conducts basic neuroscience research that focuses on physiological and computational analysis of the function of neural circuits. He also serves as Pitt’s Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Strategic Initiatives, supporting the development and promotion of University-wide strategic initiatives in neuroscience research and education. Dr. Urban’s experience at Carnegie Mellon University, where he was founding director of the BrainHub initiative, is also valuable in supporting our goal of seamless interactions between the two institutions. In addition, he is the Pitt-side co-director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, a joint program founded in 1994 that promotes collaboration between Pitt and CMU in cognitive neuroscience training and research.
Dr. Urban and I invite you to explore the Brain Institute website, and by extension, the breadth of neuroscience research underway at the University of Pittsburgh.