Outside view of the John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center.The National Institutes of Health held a scientific symposium and a dedication ceremony March 31 to April 1, 2014, to celebrate the completion of the John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center. This state of the art facility brings together neuroscientists from 10 institutes and centers across the NIH in an effort to spur new advances in our understanding of the nervous system in health and disease.

The dedication featured remarks by the honoree, former congressman John Edward Porter, for whom the center is named. Porter was a member of the House Appropriations Committee, chair of the subcommittee that funded NIH, and a staunch supporter of biomedical research and the NIH mission. He served in the House for more than 20 years, representing a district in Illinois.

Other speakers include NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill)., and Story C. Landis, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. More than 800 people were expected to attend the dedication and symposium.

The inaugural event for the building was a two-day symposium featuring five scientific sessions with presentations by leading neuroscientists from across the United States and within the NIH. Topics will include presentation on some of the hottest topics in the field today: neuronal circuits, cell biology and the genetics of brain disease.

As one of the largest neuroscience research centers in the world, the Porter Neuroscience Research Center has 500,000 square feet of open laboratory space and offices, shared resources and facilities, and other design elements meant to foster collaborations among scientists.

“The concept for this building first arose when we saw a need for a place that could bring together scientists studying all aspects of the brain. We are delighted that the Porter Neuroscience Research Center is officially open and look forward to the many innovative discoveries that are bound to come from the programs in that building,” said Landis.

“Serendipity plays an important role in science. Many great ideas for experiments result from casual conversations between researchers. The open design of the Porter Research Center will certainly encourage those types of interactions,” said Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

The Porter Neuroscience Research Center is made up of two buildings connected by a glass atrium. Construction on the first building began in 2001 and was completed in 2004. This phase was completed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, which designed the full master plan for the 600,000-ft2 facility, along with concept design and construction administration for phase one of the project. The second phase of the center, designed by Perkins+Will, was built with a number of environmentally friendly design features such as solar cells, geothermal energy system, and energy efficient lighting, which make the facility 25% more energy-efficient than a conventional laboratory building.

“Phase two of the project faced several unavoidable stops and starts but appears to be have been well worth the wait,” said Gerald Fischbach, M.D., who was one of those who conceptualized the idea more than 10 years ago while serving as the NINDS director.

“We hope people will come from every corner of the earth to see and work in the John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center, a magnificent tribute to the most important and challenging scientific endeavor we face—understanding the human brain,” said Collins.

The dedication webcast is available here:

Source: National Institutes of Health