McKnight Brain Institute
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|Dean||Director Tetsuo Ashizawa M.D.|
The McKnight Brain Institute (MBI) at the University of Florida is a research and teaching center, which conducts integrated Research in neuroscience, neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry, cognitive science, and related areas. The MBI is one of the nation’s most comprehensive and technologically advanced centers devoted to discovering how the normal brain operates, and how we can repair the brain following injury, disease, or aging. The MBI has over 300 faculty from 50 Departments in the UF with current major research focuses including neurodegeneration (such as AD, PD, and ALS), age-related memory loss, brain and spinal cord injuries, brain tumors, and addiction.
The MBI at UF is the flagship of four McKnight Brain Institutes across the United States. Dr. Tetsuo Ashizawa is the current Executive Director of the MBI. Former Executive Directors include Dr. William G. Luttge, the founding Director, Dr. Douglass Anderson, and Dr. Dennis A. Steindler.
Dr. Luttge joined UF in 1971 as an assistant professor of neuroscience in the College of Medicine after earning his Ph.D. in biological sciences at the University of California, Irvine. The neuroscience department at the College of Medicine was one of the first of its kind in the country, and Luttge quickly became its leader, researching the molecular and behavioral actions of steroids in the brain.
In December 1991, Luttge came across an excerpt from an obscure newsletter, Commerce Business Daily, announcing a call for proposals for a competitive Department of Defense (DoD) grant to build a major national brain and spinal cord research center. Around the same time, the University of Florida (UF), through its Health Science Center, College of Medicine and its teaching hospital, Shands at UF, made a strategic decision to create a unique campus-wide program to enhance the multidisciplinary research, clinical care and educational skills of the entire university. This program was named the University of Florida Brain Institute (UFBI).
Newly appointed as director of UF’s Brain Institute, Luttge embarked on a logistical tour de force to meet all requirements of the grant application. The requirements, such as a $36,000,000 matching grant from UF, were soon met. And on June 11, 1992, UF had won the $18,000,000 grant, beating out several prestigious universities and neuroscience research centers. Construction of the new institute building couldn’t be completed, however, until the Defense Department and Veterans Affairs awarded another $20,000,000 for the project in 1996 and 1997. On October 22, 1998, The University of Florida officially opened the doors to its world-class, $60 million UF Brain Institute building.
The MBI-UF was renamed the Evelyn F. & William L. McKnight Brain Institute of the University of Florida (MBI-UF) to celebrate and commemorate a $15,000,000 gift from the McKnight Brain Research Foundation. This award was the largest cash gift in UF history and it was matched by the State of Florida to help create over a $30,000,000 permanent endowment devoted to fundamental research on the mechanisms underlying the formation, storage and retrieval of memories, the impairments in these processes associated with aging, and the development of therapeutic strategies for the prevention and/or alleviation of these impairments in humans.
MBI Executive Committee
- Tetsuo Ashizawa, M.D., Executive Director, McKnight Brain Institute; Chair, Department of Neurology
- Regina Bussing, M.D., M.S.H.S., Interim Chair, Department of Psychiatry
- Ron Cohen, Ph.D., Director of Cognitive Aging and Memory (CAM)
- Thomas Foster, Ph.D., Professor and McKnight Research Chair for Age Related Memory Loss (ARML)
- William A. Friedman, M.D., Chair, Department of Neurological Surgery
- Todd E. Golde, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease (CTRND)
- Lucia Notterpek, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Neuroscience
- Marco Pahor, M.D., Chair/Director, Department of Aging/Geriatric Research