Renamed 'Center for Neurovirology'
moves to Medical School
The move will help create a new neuroscience department
|In July, the Center for Neurovirology and Cancer Biology in the College of Science and Technology became the Center for Neurovirology and was transferred to the School of Medicine to form the backbone of the new neuroscience department. Kamel Khalili, director of the Center for Neurovirology, will be acting chair of the new department while a search is under way for a permanent chair.
As of July 1, the Center for Neurovirology and Cancer Biology in the College of Science and Technology became the Center for Neurovirology and was transferred to the School of Medicine to form the backbone of the new neuroscience department, which will be one of seven basic science departments at the Medical School.
Creation of the neuroscience department is part of Dean John Daly’s plan to make neuroscience, as well as neurological clinical care, one of the cornerstones of the Medical School’s strategic plan. New chairs of neurosurgery (Christopher Loftus), radiology (neuroradiologist Charles Jungreis) and pharmacology (neuropharmacologist Nae Dun) joined with Ausim Azizi, chair of neurology, to develop the academic clinical neurologic programs.
The transfer of the Center for Neurovirology and the creation of the new basic science department will bring the Medical School “into the top tier of neurological institutions in the country,” Daly said.
“Dean Daly wanted to enhance neuroscience in the School of Medicine, and the creation of this new department allows that,” said Kamel Khalili, director of the Center for Neurovirology and acting chair of the new department. “The new department brings together a group of people who are used to working together and have been extremely productive in terms of research and teaching.”
According to Khalili, 11 faculty members from the Center for Neurovirology and Cancer Biology have transferred with the center to the School of Medicine and will maintain joint appointments in both the School of Medicine and the College of Science and Technology. In addition, faculty from other departments may also join the neuroscience department.
Khalili said the goal of the new department is to focus teaching and research attention on such areas as neuroAIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and brain tumors. The Center for Neurovirology brings three PO1 grants and more than $35 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health to the new department.
By moving from the College of Science and Technology to the Medical School, Khalili said, faculty and researchers in the new department will promote their ability to carry out translational research.
“Working with the clinicians will provide us with a better understanding about these diseases and disorders, and the neurological problems associated with them,” he said. “And the clinicians will be able to better access information on the molecular mechanisms that lead to these diseases.”
He also emphasized that as researchers in the neuroscience department develop new diagnostics and treatments for these diseases, they will be able to more easily bring these tools to the clinic.
Khalili said neuroscience professor Jay Rappaport will oversee the development of a new graduate program in biomedical neuroscience to train students for master’s and doctoral degrees, and will serve as the director of graduate programs in the department of neuroscience.
He added that M.D./Ph.D. students may also enroll in the program.
A search for the permanent chair is under way; in the meantime, Khalili is working with Daly to develop a strategic plan for the new department. The department plans to recruit up to five new faculty over the next three years that would complement ongoing programs within the department and bring new basic scientists to the School of Medicine.
Although now affiliated with the School of Medicine, the Center for Neurovirology and the neuroscience department will continue to be housed on the second floor of the Biology Life Sciences Building on Main Campus until the new Medical School building is completed, according to Khalili. And they won’t detach themselves from their colleagues in non-medical departments; rather, they plan to enlist the cooperation of, and promote collaborations with, other units within the University, such as the psychology department in the College of Liberal Arts.
“We are actually extending our interactions and collaborations with other departments such as biology, psychology and engineering,” Khalili said. “We view this as an opportunity to enhance and develop our mutual research interests.”
- By Preston M. Moretz