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"The Brain Research Institute is a catalyst for collaborations among scientists, engineers and clinicians who study brain function and health."
Christopher J. Evans, Ph.D.
The discipline of neuroscience has grown exponentially in the last 30 years by attracting scientists from a wide variety of basic science and clinical disciplines, from cognitive psychology and psychiatry to molecular biology and engineering. Understanding the brain is the greatest frontier in modern life science and medicine. The scientific study of the brain borders the humanities because the brain makes us what we are. The complexity of the brain beckons those interested in tough, important problems. UCLA has invested heavily in the field of neuroscience, establishing the Brain Research Institute in the early 1960s. No fewer than 26 different departments at UCLA have found neuroscience to be so important to their mission that they have hired neuroscientists as faculty. UCLA can now boast neuroscience research and educational programs that are among the top 10 in the world in terms of breadth and quality.
The large size of the UCLA neuroscience community and the diversity of approaches mean that it is impossible for individual departments to take responsibility for stewardship of the discipline of neuroscience at UCLA. The BRI, as the central administrative and intellectual unit, is needed to provide a functional and symbolic center for neuroscience activities on campus. The role is functional in the sense that the BRI fosters interdepartmental cooperation in research and education, and provides services to the neuroscience community as a whole. The role is symbolic because without a central unit the discipline would be seen as fragmented. The symbolism of a unitary neuroscience organization is important in attracting faculty, students and funding to UCLA.