Message from the Director
Because of its history, the Institute of Neurobiology has a unique role in modern neuroscience. Founded under the aegis of the University of Puerto Rico in 1967 by the renowned neuroscientist José del Castillo, the Institute's goal was to use simple organisms to better understand neural structure and function. This idea is still in place and the range of skills and approaches that are currently in operation at the Institute are producing data with application to a range of human disorders including addiction, neural degeneration, and deficits in motor function resulting from injury. I was appointed as the Institute’s fourth Director in January of 2009. I moved here from Massachusetts because of my belief that the Institute of Neurobiology holds tremendous promise. Part of my enthusiasm comes from a new series of island-wide initiatives to transform Puerto Rico into a “science mecca”, including the development of a “knowledge corridor” serviced by a new rapid train system, and the construction of a major Molecular Sciences Building at the University of Puerto Rico that will have a significant neuroscience component.
The Institute of Neurobiology is located 120 ft above the Atlantic Ocean, within a bastion of the original 16th century Spanish walls that surround Old San Juan. Thus, we can be conducting an experiment in a state-of-the-art 21st century research facility, and then walk out the door and be immersed in the 16th century. The Institute belongs to the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus, and serves the local neuroscience community by providing a simple systems approach, in which the tools of modern genetics, molecular imaging, and high resolution electrophysiology are utilized to synergize with the complex systems approach used at the Medical School. Our overarching theme at the Institute is to understand the underpinnings of neural plasticity. A particularly exciting and new avenue of investigation is based upon the premise that molecular mechanisms of adaptation uncovered in our biomedical research will have application in our understanding of how the nervous system adapts to environmental stressors, such as ocean warming and acidification. The use of simple model animals, coupled with the application of the tools of modern neuroscience provide hope that we will be able to address important environmental issues, as well as those of biomedical importance. It is a very exciting time at the INB. We are actively recruiting new faculty and renovating our facility, and we expect great things in our future.