Centers of Excellence

Neurosciences Center

Research and Discovery at the Neurosciences Center

The human brain is a complex arrangement of neurons with a multitude of individual connections (synapses) that are maintained by a massive population of support cells and blood vessels.

Disorders of the brain have significant impact on health and well-being, including:

  • Psychiatric conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
  • Neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
  • Migraine and other debilitating chronic pain conditions.
  • Many other disorders such as autism, brain tumors, head trauma, addiction, sleep disorders and dangerous nervous system infections.

Collectively, these disorders affect all ages, and many of these conditions are long-lasting, with escalating medical, emotional and economic repercussions.

To prevent and treat these disorders, the Neurosciences Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is committed to better understanding what triggers them and the reasons for disease progression. We are very optimistic that excellent progress and meaningful improvements in brain health will be delivered soon. Why the optimism? For these reasons:

Our Track Record

For decades, our brilliant scientists and physicians have successfully tackled some of the most challenging research questions.

For example, thanks to our neuroscientists and many collaborators, we are now using sophisticated positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to trace the development of Alzheimer’s disease in patients. Similarly, thanks to stem cell technology, we can now take a small blood sample and use it to create a patient’s brain cells for examination under powerful microscopes. And, ten years ago we knew next to nothing about the genetic underpinnings of multiple sclerosis (MS). Today, we have a detailed genetic map of MS!

Our Culture of Collaboration

The Neurosciences Center is composed of 1000+ highly trained physicians and researchers who are truly committed—and enjoy— working together. Molecular biologists, computational scientists, chemists, engineers, cell and protein biologists, geneticists, physiologists and other experts, are all contributing individual expertise to beat neurologic and psychiatric diseases.

The Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital exemplifies this commitment to collaboration. The mission of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases is to transform the future of medical treatment for neurological conditions through novel forms of collaboration and patient-centered research. This collaboration – within and outside our walls – is accelerating the search for treatments, prevention, and cures for five of the world's most complex neurological diseases: multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer's disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), Parkinson's disease, and brain tumors. By bringing together researchers and scientists working across each of the five disease states at BWH and around the world, the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases is providing fertile ground for discovering new breakthroughs and new therapies.

Advances in Technology

We’re leveraging a remarkable range of new, modern and powerful technologies that include the most advanced instruments and tools available — anywhere. We can now examine the brain in ways that we couldn’t imagine just a few years ago.

For example, our highly advanced MRI-guided operating suite, AMIGO, enables BWH neurosurgeons to remove brain tumors with more precision than ever — and reduce the risk of damage to other parts of the brain.

Initiatives Now Underway

  • Identifying the underlying mechanisms of psychiatric disorders using MRI and PET technology, with the aim to accelerate the discovery of new treatments.
  • Designing, testing and refining new drugs for a range of neurological conditions.
  • Developing personalized medicine algorithms to inform individual patients about how their disease will progress and what treatments are most likely to be helpful.
  • Understanding precisely how and where disease starts and exploring ways to stop it.
  • Exploring which environmental factors increase our risk of developing certain diseases.
  • Developing fast, reliable and simple diagnostic tests that will enable us to quickly tell a patient exactly what they are facing.
  • Examining how the immune system interacts with the nervous system to either promote disease or to protect us from disease.
  • Exploring the differences between male and female brains and why women are at greater risk of certain disorders within our Women’s Brain Initiative.

For brief examples of the Neurosciences Center’s underlying research initiatives, see links below:

The Brigham Brain Donation Hub

With the generosity of donors and their families, the Brigham Brain Donation Hub supports our talented neuroscientists by providing access to essential research tools, particularly brain tissue. This invaluable resource enables research into underlying brain mechanisms and fuels breakthroughs in detection, treatment, prevention, and cures.

Learn about brain donation


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