McGovern Institute for Brain Research

Coordinates: 42°21′44″N 71°05′30″W / 42.362258°N 71.091652°W / 42.362258; -71.091652
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McGovern Institute for Brain Research
McGovern Institute for Brain Research 2018.jpg
EstablishedFebruary 28, 2000; 23 years ago (2000-02-28)
Field of research
DirectorRobert Desimone
Address43 Vassar Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139
LocationCambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
Operating agency
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The McGovern Institute for Brain Research is a research institute within MIT. Its mission is to understand how the brain works and to discover new ways to prevent or treat brain disorders. The institute was founded in 2000 by Patrick McGovern and Lore Harp McGovern with a gift to MIT that is expected to total $350M over 20 years.[1]


The McGovern Institute conducts research into all aspects of brain function, including perception, cognition and action. It also conducts clinical and translational research on a wide range of brain disorders.

The institute's core facilities include the Martinos Imaging Center, which provides neuroimaging technologies for human and animal research, including MRI, EEG and MEG.

The McGovern Institute occupies approximately 85,000 sq ft (net) within the MIT Brain and Cognitive Sciences Complex. This building, which was completed in 2005, also houses the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and is among the largest neuroscience research buildings in the world.[2] The building was designed by Indian architect Charles Correa in collaboration with the Boston-based firm Goody, Clancy & Associates, Inc. It is one of the most distinctive landmarks on the MIT campus, notable especially for the Grand Junction railroad that runs through the center of the building.


Robert Desimone is the current director of the McGovern Institute and the Doris and Don Berkey Professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Prior to joining the McGovern Institute in 2004, he was director of the Intramural Research Program at the National Institute for Mental Health, the largest mental health research center in the world. The 24 current faculty members include a Nobel laureate (H. Robert Horvitz), a winner of the US National Medal of Science (Ann Graybiel), Ila Fiete and seven members of the US National Academy of Sciences (Desimone, Horvitz, Graybiel, Boyden, and Feng Zhang, along with Emilio Bizzi and Nancy Kanwisher). The founding director (2000-2004) was Phillip Sharp, also a Nobel Laureate.

Public art[edit]


Schwerpunkt by Ralph Helmick

SCIENTIA by Ursula von Rydingsvard is a sculpture permanently put on display in front of the McGovern Institute. It is MIT's 52nd piece of public art. The sculpture was commissioned by Lore Harp McGovern, co-founder of the McGovern Institute.[3][4]

The sculpture is roughly 24 feet (7.3 m) tall and 17,000 pounds (7,700 kg). It was constructed out of bronze using sand casting and lost-wax casting.[5]


Schwerpunkt (German for "Center of mass or gravity") is a sculpture by Ralph Helmick. The sculpture consists of one hundred 3D printed metal neurons suspended above the McGovern Institute lobby. When viewed from a specific focal point on the building's third floor atrium, the neurons take on the shape of a human brain.[6][7]


  1. ^ "Patrick J. McGovern, Jr., Lore Harp McGovern commit $350 million to MIT to establish Institute for Brain Research". MIT News. Retrieved October 17, 2019..
  2. ^ "MIT Facilities - In Development & Construction". Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  3. ^ Trafton, Anne (2 November 2016). "SCIENTIA". MIT McGovern Institute.
  4. ^ "SCIENTIA". MIT List Visual Arts Center. 26 October 2016.
  5. ^ Pryor, Julie (26 October 2016). "Monumental new sculpture commissioned for MIT's McGovern Institute". MIT News.
  6. ^ Trafton, Anne (28 June 2016). "Schwerpunkt". MIT McGovern Institute.
  7. ^ "Massachusetts Institute of Technology, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Schwerpunkt". Simpson Gumpertz & Heger. 6 July 2018.

External links[edit]

Media related to McGovern Institute for Brain Research at Wikimedia Commons

42°21′44″N 71°05′30″W / 42.362258°N 71.091652°W / 42.362258; -71.091652