UF’s Brain Trust

Uncovering the keys to preserving the power of the brain

The study of the brain is considered the last frontier of medicine — of the human body. Nothing depicts the wonder of life quite like the human brain as it endows us with intelligence, creativity, sensations, movement and emotions.

With more than 100 billion neurons, there are more cells within the brain than there are stars in the galaxy. These cells talk to one another across electrochemical connections within a tangled web that displays cognitive powers that exceed any of the machines built to mimic it.

And while there is far more unknown than known when it comes to the basic principles of thought and brain function, understanding the brain is the passion of the scientists at the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute. They know that unraveling how the mind and brain work is a significant step toward understanding not only what makes humans human but also how to preserve the power of the brain and cure diseases that afflict it.

“Our scientific quest is to find strategies for restoring a damaged brain,” says Tetsuo Ashizawa, MD, executive director of the McKnight Brain Institute and chair of the department of neurology. “And our focus is on translating our discoveries into practical solutions for patients. If we are to uncover the keys to age-related memory loss, depression, addiction, movement disorders and other brain diseases our physicians and scientists must work together.”

Since understanding the mind, brain and behavior is an inherently multidisciplinary endeavor,the four chairs of UF’s neuroscience departments have developed a neuromedicine program that calls for a new approach to delivering services for diseases of the brain and stronger collaborations for investigating neurological conditions that affect millions of people. Set in motion by William Friedman, MD, chair of the department of neurosurgery, the strategy will trigger a whirl of basic and clinical scientists and health care providers, all revolving around the patient.

“We are working together more than ever before to figure out the best way to treat neuro-disorders that makes the most sense for the patient,” said Mark Gold, MD ’75, chair of the department of psychiatry.

Brain work at its finest is under way.