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The Daily Tar Heel

New Center Opens For Neuroscience

"This is the beginning of what might be a number of happy occasions," said Jeffrey Houpt, dean of the School of Medicine.

The 35,000 square-foot building will house both clinicians and scientists. Research there will focus on brain development and neurological disease.

The dedication ceremony emphasized the benefits the new center will provide for patients at UNC Hospitals. Researchers will work to identify genes and proteins that cause neurological disorders, allowing them to isolate therapeutic targets and develop new treatment options.

"The collective goal is to help improve the lives of people," said Chancellor James Moeser. "(That is) really what this university is about."

William Snider, director of the UNC Neuroscience Center, which occupies three of the eight floors in the new building, said the center will house researchers studying genetics, genomics and the neurological processes that control human behavior and thought.

Neurological science is progressing so rapidly, Snider said, that "any agenda I or anyone else might present here today would be obsolete in five years."

Despite the competitive nature of the field, Snider expressed confidence in the University's ability to keep up.

"If our neuroscience studies continue to receive support, exemplified by this beautiful new building, UNC will be in the forefront."

Half of the funds for the building came from UNC Hospitals, which received the former site of the Biological Sciences Research Center building in return. In addition, a grant from the National Institutes of Health paid for the construction of one floor of the building, and other grants were given to individual research programs to equip their facilities.

Growth for the School of Medicine doesn't stop with Thursday's dedication.

Further construction will finish in 15 months on a new structure for the Cell and Molecular Physiology departments, paid for by the $3.1 billion bond referendum passed by N.C. voters last year. The sounds of construction were audible even during the ceremony.

Officials said these new facilities will allow UNC to be more competitive when attracting faculty and students.

Dick Richardson, former UNC provost, said the Neuroscience Research Center will have positive effects on the overall academic climate of the University. "(The building will be) an enormous recruiting service for faculty, not only for the School of Medicine."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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