University of Pittsburgh
October 12, 2016

University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute Plays Key Role in Making Pittsburgh a Major Hub of Brain Research in the United States

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—Pittsburgh is one of the leading centers in the country for brain research according to the White House’s BRAIN Initiative, which lists 10 research projects in Pittsburgh on its interactive map of federally funded research projects. Of those 10, seven are Pitt projects, and Pitt is actively assisting in several others.

With more than 150 faculty members, the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute seeks to unlock the mysteries of normal and abnormal brain function and then translate discoveries into new approaches for overcoming brain disorders. The institute employs multiple levels of analysis, from molecular and cellular approaches to whole systems and behavioral analysis, and incorporates research across disciplines including neuroscience, bioengineering, computer science, mathematics, and robotics.

Some of the institute’s recent highlights include:

A Pitt team is developing technology to allow amputees to feel with their prosthetic limbs. (video available)

Pitt researchers are part of team that received a $6.4 million National Science Foundation award that could lead to odor-detecting robots.

Pitt created the Live Like Lou Center for ALS research and recruited a leading ALS researcher. (video available)

Pitt bioengineers received $4.7 million from the National Institutes of Health to advance brain-implant technology, improving the implants’ performance in the brain while surviving the body’s immune-system responses.

A $600,000 gift from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation provided funds for seed grants as well as support for a brain bank. The projects include improving brain-controlled robotic arms and hands for paralyzed individuals, mapping brain circuits to understand disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, exploring the links between sleep deprivation and adolescent drug abuse, analyzing brain activity in individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and constructing a computational model of brain activity that accounts for variation in how neurons behave.

A Pitt study found a possible cellular link that causes places or events to trigger relapses in addicts.

More research and highlights for the Brain Institute can be found here.

Fast Facts about the Brain Institute.