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McKnight Brain Research Foundation Hosts First Inter-Institutional Meeting

Published: April 30th, 2008

Category: Events

On April 16-18, 2008, the trustees of the McKnight Brain Research Foundation (MBRF) and more than 75 research scientists from each of the four MBRF funded institutions held the first inter-institutional meeting. The Directors and their respective research teams from the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institutes at the University of Alabama, the University of Arizona and the University of Florida and the Evelyn F. McKnight Center for Age Related Memory Loss at the University of Miami gathered to discuss the research in progress and the possible collaboration between and among the scientists at each of the four institutions on the problems of learning and memory in the aging with emphasis on cognitive health, prevention and treatment of cognitive decline and loss.

Dr. Carol A. Barnes, Director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute and the Evelyn F. McKnight Chair of Learning and Memory in Aging at the University of Arizona acted as the local host and arrangements chair for this important and successful meeting.

Several areas for potential collaboration were identified:

1. Stem Cells and Neurogenesis
2. Glial Biology
3. Imaging: fMRI/systems, Microscopy (Molecular)
4. Genetics, Epigenetics, Model Systems
5. Cellular Plasticity – Place Cells Synapses
6. Human Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience

Future inter-institutional meetings will be held at least annually, rotating among each of the four institutions. The purpose of the inter-institutional meetings is to foster the necessary collaboration to achieve successful outcomes in the understanding of cognitive aging and possible treatments of cognitive loss and decline.

The 2008 inter-institutional meeting followed the Cognitive Aging Summit held in Washington, DC, in October, 2007, in conjunction with the National Institute on Aging (NIA) through the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH). The purpose of the Cognitive Aging Summit was to bring together a range of experts in a variety of research fields to discuss the cutting-edge advances in our understanding of age-related brain and behavioral changes. The goals and objectives of the Summit were to assess the status of current scientific knowledge in normal aging and changes in cognition associated with the aging process; explore new avenues of potential research within the scientific community that could lead to the development of pharmacological and behavioral interventions; and, ultimately, to improved outcomes for the aging; and raise the level of awareness both within the scientific community and among the public about the importance of this area of research and its tremendous value to society.

As an outcome of the Summit, the MBRF and the NIA have established a Research Partnership in Cognitive Aging and will jointly fund nationally competitive research proposals through the FNIH in the amount of at least $2M annually for a period of five years beginning in 2009.