By Pat ShermanThe Neurosciences Institute (NSI), a non-profit scientific research organization dedi- cated to studying the brain, is leaving the three-building complex atop Torrey Pines Mesa it has occupied since 1995.
In early fall, NSI will vacate the space, which is owned by Scripps Research Institute, relocating to a portion of an office building at the corner of Fay Avenue and Silverado Street in The Village.
The NSI moved from the campus of the Rockefeller University in New York City to La Jolla in 1993, occupying temporary quar- ters while its facility in the UCSD Science Research Park was being constructed. The building, designed by the architecture firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Associates, has won numerous awards. While there, NSI of- fered free use of its acoustically superior au- ditorium to nonprofit performing arts organizations that were aligned with NSI’s philosophy.
W. Einar Gall, NSI’s senior vice-president, said the institute will establish its theoretical and experimental research arm in its new headquarters at 800 Silverado St. where it will continue its fundamental neurobiology research. Other programs of the Neurosciences Research Foundation will continue there, and at a location to be determined.
“We are beginning to discuss relationships with institutions on the East Coast that would be a new avenue for us in our re- search activities,” Gall told the
La Jolla Light.
Without its laboratory facility, NSI will discontinue its biomedical research — including studies involving animal neurophysiology and molecular biology — and concentrate on its theoretical work, which involves robotics and computer-based brain modeling.
“This theoretical program has been going for some time and will continue,” Gall said, adding that the research involves testing theories about the synergistic relationship between various types of nerve and brain cells.
In the 1980s, when NSI began this work, it was much less common. “Most people at the time were focusing on one particular cell,” Gall said. “We were modeling what might be called regions of the brain.”
NSI was founded in 1981, under the leadership of Nobel Laureate Gerald M. Edelman. Since then, it has focused its research on his principles, underlying how humans perceive and act on the world, how they learn and remember, and how consciousness arises.
NSI receives funding through grants from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), private foundations and other government agencies such as the National Science Foundation.
NSI’s programs have shown that insects sleep in a manner similar to mammals, and how imagination shapes the way people hear musical rhythms.
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