Ireland’s First Institute of Neuroscience Launched at Trinity College Dublin

Posted on: 29 September 2000

Ireland’s first Institute for the study of neuroscience was launched today, September 29, at Trinity College Dublin. The Institute will research cures for major illnesses such as Alzheimer’s Disease, which affects over 20,000 people in Ireland.

The Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN) will bring together the largest grouping of neuroscientific researchers in the country to research the causes and possible cures to brain, spinal cord and nervous system illnesses.

The Director of the Institute Professor Ian Roberston said: “Understanding illnesses of the brain is the greatest health challenge of the twenty first century. The efforts of the Institute can help combat Alzheimer’s Disease, head injuries, depression, stress and other diseases and disorders”.

To mark the launch a special conference New Horizons in Neuroscience – The Brain in Health and Disease is being held at Trinity College today, during which many issues of interest to public health were raised.

Professor Peter Humphries, of TCD’s Department of Genetics, said the retina, which is a part of the eye, can give insights into the workings of the brain – and assist research into the causes of Alzheimer’s Disease.

“What we learn of health and sickness in retinal neuroses can, in many instances, be extrapolated to the brain as a whole,” he said.

It is currently estimated that 50% of Alzheimer’s cases remain undetected in the community – and the number of sufferers is expected to double by 2025.

TCD’s Dr. Shane O’Mara said that high levels of long term stress can cause parts of the brain shrink in size and highlighted that a sustained stressful lifestyle may cause damage to the brains functioning.

Professor Michael Rowan of Trinity College said recent research in the field of neuroscience has discovered drugs which could overcome stress and memory loss.

The Institute is linked to a new undergraduate degree in neuroscience, from which ten students will graduate annually.

Students wishing to take the new degree course in neuroscience will study general science for two years – and then specialise in neuroscience during their third fourth years. The first degree class to graduate will be in 2004.

The Institute was launched by the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mr. Tom Kitt, the Vice Provost of Trinity College Dublin, Professor David McConnell and the Director of the Institute, Professor Ian Robertson.

Note: Neuroscience is the study of the brain, spinal cord and nervous system.

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