The University Record, October 2 , 1995

MHRI marks 40 anniversary with symposium

By Rebecca A. Doyle

In the summer of 1955, a handful of scientists from the University of Chicago moved to Ann Arbor as a result of the efforts of Raymond Waggoner, then chair of the Department of Psychiatry. Their efforts and expertise in such areas as neurophysiology and biology helped the facility to grow by 1960 to a 60-person operation housed temporarily in the Kresge buildings laboratories and a nearby converted rooming house.

Four decades later, the institute they began has 18 senior investigators, each with dedicated laboratory space and one or more active research programs; 136 supporting technicians and administrative staff; and an annual budget of more than $7 million.

The Mental Health Research Institute (MHRI) will celebrate its 40th anniversary Oct. 13 with a day-long symposium of speakers and presentations.

Institute Director Bernard Agranoff leads a list of distinguished speakers from the U-M; the University of California, Los Angeles; Cornell Medical School; Yale University; and the University of Columbia.

The symposium highlight is the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Distinguished Anniversary Lecture, in honor of the IOM’s 25th anniversary, which will be given by Eric Kandel, senior investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute and professor of biochemistry and

biophysics at Cornell University. Kandel’s topic is “Genes, Synapses and Long-term Memory.”

Morning sessions focus on basic neuroscience and afternoon presentations deal with bridges to biological psychiatry.

“MHRI neuroscientists study the brain in health and disease—structurally from an individual neurotransmitter molecule to the complex human brain, and functionally from the single nerve impulse to nerve repair, and behavior, including learning and memory,” Agranoff says. “Their discoveries over the past four decades have opened new vistas in neuroscience and biological psychiatry and have gained the Institute international recognition.”