Tánaiste opens Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience

Posted on: 04 July 2005

Ireland’s first purpose-built research institute to advance the frontiers of neuroscience was opened by the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, TD today (Monday 4 July). The Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN) will lead to fundamental changes in the way brain disorders are understood and treated. Diseases affecting the brain such as schizophrenia, autism, Alzheimer’s disease and depression have particularly devastating consequences for patients, families and health and financial resources. Alzheimer’s disease affects over 20,000 people in Ireland, a figure which will double by 2025.

“The brain has more than 10 billion neurons in a tangled web with trillions of connections. Disorders of the brain are the most common cause of long-term disability in the western world. At TCIN, research is applied to the diagnosis and treatment of the range of neuropsychiatric, neurological and age related brain disorders. Many of these diseases currently do not respond to treatment. The challenge of tackling crippling neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases has made neuroscience one of the fastest growing and important areas of the biological sciences”, explained Prof. Ian Robertson, Director of the Institute.

The Institute is one of the few such centres in the world to be established from the start with a truly interdisciplinary programme where world-class scientists from such fields as genetics, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, neurology, psychiatry, psychology, microbiology and physics collaborate. The research knowledge resulting from this interdisciplinary approach will be applied immediately to patient care and improvement of the quality of life on an international level.

The 3,500 sq.m. Institute received anchor funding of EUR 28 million from the Department of Education and Science, through the HEA, under PRTLI Cycle 3. The infrastructure, imaging capital equipment and a research programme was funded through this grant. TCIN is at the core of the National Neuroscience Network, which includes, UCC, UCD and recently RCSI. The philosophy of collaborating nationally and competing internationally has built strength in neuroscience in Ireland.

To celebrate the opening of the Institute, Trinity College is hosting a ‘Brain Week’ with the theme “The brain is the most mesmerizing organ – let’s explore it”. A series of public lectures, academic meetings and children’s art exhibition on the brain will take place. The aim of Trinity Brain Week is to provide scientists and non-scientists with a fascinating adventure into the workings of the brain.

Public lectures will take place in the Burke Lecture Theatre, Arts Building, TCD at 7.00pm on July 5th “How the brain works” – Professor Ian Robertson (TCD); July 6 th “Me, myself and I – and you: How the frontal lobes affect our daily behaviour”- Professor Don Stuss (Toronto); and July 7 th “Genes and the brain” Dr Kevin Mitchell (TCD).