Lieber Institute marks formal opening with Nov. 10 gala

The Lieber Institute for Brain Development is holding a gala on November 10 to celebrate the formal opening of its facility on the Johns Hopkins Medical Campus in Baltimore.

The Lieber Institute, which focuses on basic research about the causes of schizophrenia and related developmental behavioral disorders, is occupying 30,000 square feet in the Rangos Building at 855 Wolfe Street, Baltimore. It will collaborate with the Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute.

Hopkins established its Brain Science Institute (BSI) in 2007, with an annual research budget of $120 million. BSI, has four of the top 25 neuro-scientists in the U.S.. The co-location with the Lieber Institute establishes a formidable Baltimore cluster for neuroscience collaboration in drug and diagnostic development. The Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute recently expanded to include a Neuro-translation lab and development team hired from the pharmaceutical industry to accelerate the development of new neuroscience-based drugs emerging from Johns Hopkins.

“The Lieber Institute’s decision to locate next to Johns Hopkins is a recognition of the University’s prowess in the research of mental disorders, an increasingly important array of diseases that profoundly impact not only the daily lives of many Americans but individuals around the world. The Lieber Research team complements Hopkins own neuroscience researchers in this field very nicely, and together will make significant inroads on this disabling disease.” Said Hopkins President Ron Daniels.

The location of the Lieber Institute’s research facility in Maryland also facilitates a partnership with the nearby National Institutes of Health, including the National Institute of Mental Health. In fact, leading the partnership between the Lieber Institute and the NIH will be Daniel R. Weinberger, MD, renowned expert in schizophrenia research at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) where he is the director of the Genes, Cognition and Psychosis Program. Dr. Ronald McKay, who leads a stem cell research program at the NIH that was among the first to show that stem cells may provide new cell therapies for degenerative diseases, will join the Lieber Institute as its Director of Basic Science.

The Lieber Institute will develop new strategies for the treatment and prevention of developmental disorders of the nervous system. While the disease focus is schizophrenia and related conditions, it is expected that discoveries will have much broader implications, including aging, neurodegenerative disorders, and even for cancer. It is one of the few private research institutions funding the development of new therapies and diagnostics with its own research facility and scientists.

According to the World Health Organization, four of the ten most disabling diseases of world societies are psychiatric. These diseases represent an enormous economic burden but, more importantly, they involve great personal cost for affected individuals and their families. Treatments for mental disorders are inadequate in most cases and prevention is largely nonexistent. Schizophrenia is a devastating disorder for most people afflicted by the disease, and very costly for their families and society with an estimated cost in the U.S. of $62.7 billion (2002). The leading theory of why people get schizophrenia proposes a genetic predisposition combined with environmental exposures and/or stresses during pregnancy and childhood that contribute to or trigger the disorder. It is thought that many genes could be involved in schizophrenia risk.

The Lieber Institute joins a growing cluster of institutional organizations and life science companies at the Science + Technology Park at Johns Hopkins including: the Johns Hopkins Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Hopkins Brain Science Institute, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; several private biotech companies (Biomarker Strategies, Iatrica, and Champions Biotechnology); the preclinical contract research organization Sobran, and laboratory services company Spectrum Biosciences.

For more information, contact: Dr. Thomas M. Hyde, COO, Lieber Institute for Brain Development at 410-955-1000.

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