Message from the Director

Welcome to the website of the Neuroscience Institute!
Neuroscience asks basic questions, such as how are behaviors generated, or how does the brain regulates the body, but also questions such as what underlies Alzheimer’s and autism, and how can such disorders be kept at bay, cured, or even prevented. Neuroscience is a rapidly expanding field, and GSU’s Neuroscience Institute is uniquely positioned to contribute to it.

Growth in Educational Programs
Under the leadership of the NI’s founding director, Dr. Walter Wilczynski, GSU neuroscientists have built a thriving institute in a remarkably short time. Our undergraduate program, which offers a BS in Neuroscience, started in 2011 with only 15 majors. Now, there are well over 300. The graduate program has grown equally spectacularly, with 49 doctoral students enrolled this fall. Last year, we launched a new venture, the Dual Degree Option, which is directed by Dr. Nancy Forger, and will allow our undergraduates to obtain a Masters in Neuroscience.

Growth in Funding
The NI has seen a strong increase in funding as well. For example, the annual grant funding generated by ‘core’ faculty has increased from $1.53 M in fiscal year 2011 to 4.83 M in 2014. This number is substantially higher if all NI-associated faculty are considered. For example, this spring, the John Templeton Foundation awarded researchers in the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience (CBN) a $3.4 million, multi-PI grant to study the neuroscience underlying positive emotions. Several other multi-PI grants are currently being considered for funding. These grants reflect the spirit of collaboration in the NI, and we aim for such grants to become the norm rather than the exception.

Growth in Scope
The field of Neuroscience is enthusiastically multidisciplinary, as is the NI. ‘Associate’ faculty can be found in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Law, Math & Statistics, Music, Nursing, Philosophy, Physical Therapy, Physics & Astronomy, and Psychology. These faculty work on basic neuroscience questions as well as on medical and societal issues. Interdepartmental collaborations are promoted through workshops, retreats, and grants administered by the Brains & Behavior Area of Focus (B&B).  Through its core and associate faculty, the NI is constantly exploring new avenues in education and research. An example is a new course taught by Music professor Martin Norgaard on ‘Music and the Brain: Denmark’ as part of GSU’s Study Abroad Program.

Community and Beyond
Finally, the NI provides valuable service to the community and beyond. NI core member, Dr. Kyle Frantz, for example, runs a highly successful program for high school students and teachers from the Atlanta region. This program has invigorated biology education at local schools and put high school students firmly on track to become scientists. NI faculty members also serve in other significant ways, for example by chairing international conferences, serving as President or Secretary of national and international societies, or as board members of scientific organizations such as the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. All these activities combine to make the NI an important contributor to the University’s strategic plan to bring GSU to the next level of excellence in education and research.