To an audience of life science leaders, Prof. Linda Richards, PhD, head of the Department of Neuroscience and the Edison Professor of Neuroscience at Washington University School of Medicine, described WashU’s position as a global leader in neuroscience research: the School of Medicine is the top NIH-funded institution for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia research and has developed new diagnostics in clinical application through the WashU start-up C2N; it’s been the home of the one of the grandest neuroimaging initiatives of all time, the Human Connectome Project; and spin-offs such as Neurolutions, which develops neuroprosthetics, are exemplifying the swift pipeline from basic neuroscience discovery to clinical translation. She spoke during a presentation hosted by the Missouri Biotechnology Association (MOBIO) September 21.
“There are literally hundreds of neuroscience labs at WashU spread across different departments, and this gives us depth and breadth required to tackle the biggest questions such as fundamentally, how does the brain work and what underlies mental illness,” Richards says. This breadth of expertise spans the fundamentals of brain functioning, from the single molecule to the individual. “We have a clinical enterprise here that’s really deeply embedded in basic science,” Richards continued, “and this makes translation to understanding the human condition possible.”
WashU’s commitment to answering neuroscience’s biggest questions is expanding with the construction of one of the largest facilities dedicated to neuroscience research in the country, if not the world. In 2023, more than 100 labs will begin to move into a new Neuroscience Research Building, a state-of-the-art facility focused on collaboration across fields of research.
“What’s exciting about this building is its strategic location in between the hospitals and Cortex,” an innovation hub adjacent to the School of Medicine, Richards says. “This is the perfect position for us to play an essential role between clinical translation [and] collaborations with industry that we hope will build within the Cortex Innovation precinct.”