Neuroscience of Behavior Initiative Launched

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With the help of $16.3 million given by an anonymous donor, the Perelman School of Medicine has announced the establishment of a new Neuroscience of Behavior Initiative. Its aim will be to “strengthen Penn programs in basic, translational, clinical, and population research into the areas of addiction, depressive disorders, and neurodegenerative disease.”

“The idea is to make Penn the best in the world in these three areas, relatively quickly,” says Brian Strom, the George S. Pepper Professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine in Biostatistics and Epidemiology, who has been tapped to lead the initiative. “The gift will be used to hire faculty and buy new equipment and infrastructure. Our primary focus is to recruit researchers.”

Research conducted through the program will “range from lab-based work—developing new drugs, testing drugs on people, examining how people are using the drugs—to population-oriented studies,” says Strom. The overall goal will be to develop effective methods of prevention, management, treatment, and rehabilitation for sufferers of neurological illnesses such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. 

The donation constitutes the first installment of a long-term commitment that Strom expects to last about 10 to 20 years. “They have been very generous and have all the right reasons for doing this,” he says of the unnamed donors. “They want to change the course of these diseases.” 

—Katie Siegel C’12

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