Major New MGH Center Will Study Neuroscience

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) announced last Wednesday the opening of its $18 million, 11 laboratory Neuroscience Center at the Charleston Navy Yard, funded in part by a $6.4 million grant from the pharmaceutical company E.R. Squibb and Sons.

The research facility links the fields of neurology, neurosurgery and psychiatry in an effort to learn more about the brain and to develop treatments for neurologic and psychiatric diseases.

"Understanding the brain and nervous system is probably the last major obstacle to overcome in modern science," said Martin S. Bander, an MGH spokesperson. "The interdisciplinary approach of the program should further enable us to develop a number of ways of diagnosing, treating and even curing many diseases."

The hopsital has been successful in studying neurogenetics and a variety of other neurological problems, said the center's director, Dorn Professor of Neurology Joseph B. Martin, in a press release. "For these reasons, I felt strongly that the MGH should commit itself to a major, expanded effort in the neurosciences."

Martin said in the statement that the center was founded on the premise that chronic neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzeheimer's might best be understood by exploring their causes at the genetic level, rather than trying to identify a particular symptom.

The grant from E.R. Squibb and Sons will support the center's Molecular Neurogenetics Laboratory research in molecular biology and techniques designed to identify and treat neurologic diseases. The Molecular Neurogenetics Laboratory, headed by Dr. James F. Gusella, is the largest of the center's 11 laboratories.

Under the terms of the MGH-Squibb agreement,any patents developed will be owned by thehospital, but Squibb will possess exclusivelicensing rights to those patents.

Bander emphasized that the academic integrityof the hospital would in no way be compromised bythe arrangement.

"MGH investigators will choose their ownresearch projects, may collaborate with others,accept grants from other sources, write their ownscientific articles, select the journals forpublication and meetings for presentation anddecide when to submit articles for publication,"Bander said.

The facility brings together more than 100scientists, fellows, students and support stafffrom several MGH laboratories within its 53,000square foot complex.

The other laboratories will each investigatedifferent aspects of neurology and neurologicaltechnology.

Additional funding for the center comes from anapproximately $5 million grant from the NationalInstitutes of Health, a $1 million grant from theBingham Family Trust and $300,000 from the PewCharitable Trusts, according to center officials