Conference will propose the creation of Center of Excellence in Brain Research in Minnesota
Minneapolis, October 31, 2011 - The human brain is the next great frontier for medical science, yet declining funding from both the public and private sectors is threatening efforts to cure brain disorders that afflict millions of people each year. On November 3-4, 2011, some of the world's leading neuroscientists, medical experts and policymakers will come together at Brain Science: The Next Frontier, a conference to be held at the University of Minnesota to discuss ways to advance brain research, foster greater international collaboration among researchers and fast-track the development of cures for major brain disorders such as Alzheimer's, bipolar disorder, Parkinson disease and sports-related brain injuries. Conference organizers will propose the creation of a new International Center of Excellence for Neuroscience and Psychiatry to be headquartered in Minnesota.
Among the conference speakers will be Nobel Prize-winning scientist Peter Agre, former Congressman and Research advocate Patrick Kennedy, Johnson & Johnson Neuroscientist Husseini Manji, and Global Health Initiative Director Lois Quam. The two-day conference will explore the latest research on brain function, discuss innovative new treatments for brain disorders and brainstorm ways to accelerate international collaboration among researchers. Dr. Agre's keynote speech will address his Nobel Prize-winning research on Aquaporins and the Brain. Former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik will discuss fighting the stigma of mental illness. Dr. Arne Holte from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health will outline the financial and societal costs of brain diseases. Stein Lorentzen-Lund, CEO of the Nansen Neuroscience Network in Norway will stress the importance of connecting brain science and research across international borders and establishing links with private industry. Dr. Greg Stewart of Medtronic will introduce new methods to target medication to the brain.
The conference builds on the work of the recently launched 'One Mind for Research' campaign, which was co-founded by Congressman Kennedy and businessman Garen Staglin this past May. The campaign aims to build a global network and data repository of all relevant imaging, genome, and patient records. One Mind for Research's plan to work smarter and share resources through public and private partnerships has the power to speed up progress on finding the cure for brain disorders ranging from schizophrenia to traumatic brain injury. The conference sponsors include the Departments of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota, Life Science Alley, MEDICA Research Institute, Tysvar LLC, GE Healthcare, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the Vinland National Center, the National Football League, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Minnesota Wild Foundation. "We want to thank all our sponsors, especially our main sponsor, GE Healthcare, for their generous support," said Ellen Ewald, the conference organizer. "The diverse range of support we received from research institutions, government, academia, private industry and professional sports has been quite extraordinary," added Ewald, "and illustrates how disorders of the brain impact every segment of society."
The Conference will climax on Friday with the announcement of a proposed Center of Excellence in Brain Science that will bring together the work of leading brain researchers in Minnesota and Norway. This new collaboration will allow researchers based in the two locations to pool their resources and undertake joint inquiries. Both Minnesota and Norway bring unique strengths to this partnership. The Department of Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota is home to some of the world's leading researchers in brain science, and Minnesota's private sector has long been a market leader in medical science and technology. "The University has some state-of-the-art brain imaging technology that could be of great use to Norwegian researchers," said Ewald, who is working with Dr. Charles Schulz to spearhead the creation of the Center.
Besides playing a leading role in neuroscience research, Norway has several extensive biobanks which have archived the genetic material of over 100,000 individuals and more than 5,000 data variables. "Biobanks are critical to genetic researchers," said Ewald. "One can envision bipolar disorder researchers at the Mayo Clinic, for example, tapping into Norway's extensive biobanks to further their research." The proposed International Center of Excellence for Neuroscience and Psychiatry will operate in cooperation with the One Mind for Research Campaign.
The conference will open at 8:00am on Thursday, November 3rd at the conference facilities located at TCF Bank stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota.
For a conference schedule, list of speakers and registration materials, please visit http://tiny.cc/0ev7z