Vera Causa - University of Maryland School of Medicine

June 27, 2014  |  By  | 


Category: Science

LETTER FROM THE DIRECTOR Welcome to the inaugural issue of Vera Causa — the quarterly newsletter for the newly established Brain Science Research Consortium Unit (BSRCU), housed as a “Center without walls” within the University of Maryland School of Medicine. We are very excited about this brand new initiative, the goal of which is to unite our various strengths across the School of Medicine to engage in transdisciplinary, collaborative neuroscience research. Vera causa is a Latin phrase that literally, means “the true cause.” Yet the meaning is much deeper than that which is given by this face treatment. Darwin gave reference to the vera causa several times in his writings in Origin of the Species, using the phrase to refer to the true underlying principles motivating a phenomenon of observation. Harking the search for truth embarked upon by the father of modern evolutionary science (and arguably, biology), members of the BSRCU look to the lamplights of modern neuroscience to uncover the vera causa of human behavior: hence the name for this newsletter. Several months ago, one of our initial activities was to form working groups to begin thinking about key questions that, in the immediate term, could be submitted as responses to the NIH’s BRAIN Initiative, a national research program announced by President Obama last year. To date, members of the BSRCU have applied for a collective $9 million in Federal grant funding, with more applications in the pipeline. In addition to producing a solid set of fundable research project proposals, these interactions between basic and clinical researchers are providing the basis of a series of ongoing discussions that have continued beyond the BRAIN Initiative submissions. I would also like to take this opportunity to introduce a new faculty member to the School of Medicine, Annabelle (Mimi) Belcher, PhD, who was hired in March to help me with the assembling and coordination of these various neuroscience projects. In addition to her role as Scientic Coordinator for the BSRCU, she is continuing her own research projects in fMRI and brain connectivity in marmosets to understand how personality differences alter the propensity for neuropsychiatric disorders. We welcome Mimi into the Department of Psychiatry, and I would ask that you contact her if you have any questions about the BSRCU. Currently, we are in the planning phases of coordinating a BSRCU retreat to be held on October 8, 2014, the goal of which will be to continue to foment the dialogue that has just begun to take place. This approach will invariably expand our current landscape of knowledge of the nal frontier, that of the human brain. We hope you enjoy this rst issue of Vera Causa, and that you use it to remain updated on the advances and accelerated pace of the highly collaborative research being coordinated through the BSRCU. I remain, With very best wishes, Prof. Bankole Johnson , DSc, MD, MBChB, MPhil, FRCPsych, DFAPA, FACFEI Director, Brain Science Research Consortium Unit Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry