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Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute

On November 5, 2004, through a gift from the McKnight Brain Research Foundation, the University of Alabama Board of Trustees approved the establishment of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute at UAB. The Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute has the long term goal of translating discoveries from basic biomedical research into processes and products to minimize the deleterious effects of aging on learning and memory in humans.

This long term goal is being achieved by: enhancement of the established research enterprise at UAB through support of pilot research projects, educational symposia and seminars, attendance at conferences and collaborations with investigators at other institutions including the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institutes at the University of Florida, The University of Arizona, and the University of Miami; and Recruitment and establishment of new investigators and equipping of their research laboratories in the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute.

An understanding of aging-related memory disorders requires both direct investigation of aging-related memory dysfunction and an understanding of memory mechanisms per se. The Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute for Age-related Memory Loss at UAB focuses its efforts on understanding both memory and memory dysfunction, approaching the problem at all levels from molecular to cognitive. Thus, basic scientists, translational researchers using model systems for aging-related memory dysfunction, and clinical researchers are being brought into proximity in the Institute. Cross-disciplinary fertilization and intellectual synergy are the rule rather than the exception. Stated briefly, the goal in developing the Institute is to establish a premier Center for aging-related memory studies in the United States. The focus is on both developing new treatments for aging-related memory disorders and understanding the basic processes underlying age-related memory dysfunction.

An additional important component of the Institute mission is augmenting the training and teaching goals of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. This involves the development of new courses concerning aging-related memory dysfunction, memory function per se, and translational research in the memory dysfunction area. These courses and training programs emphasize the modern multidisciplinary approach to memory and memory dysfunction, and involve graduate students, medical students, post-doctoral fellows, and resident trainees.

The establishment of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute at UAB represents a unique opportunity because the topic area is so timely. The importance of aging-related memory dysfunction has never been clearer, and the ongoing increase in the average age of the US citizenry suggests a continued high level of importance of this research area.