From the Executive Director: On the Fast Track

Paula Grammas, Ph.D., Executive Director

Just about a year ago, I joined URI as the inaugural Executive Director of the George & Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience. Our first year has been busy and productive, and the Ryan Institute has, in some ways, taken on the feel of an entrepreneurial startup, with efforts on several fronts:

Research: Five papers in the past year have appeared with Ryan Institute affiliations, on topics from neurotransmitter receptor function to assays for medicinal plant extracts. To expand and deepen our research program, we are in the thick of a search to fill three new faculty positions. Our bar is high: we want to bring top scientists to the institute who can help build a strong foundation of research, translational medicine, and clinical utility for the Institute.

Innovation: Our partnership with MindImmune has been more than we imagined. The four scientists who founded this pharmaceutical startup have substantial experience as well as a spirit and energy that helps to fuel the Institute’s momentum. A donation from the company has created the MindImmune Postdoctoral Fellowship to fund a position within the Institute. The team is also teaching and mentoring URI students, an invaluable contribution. Stevin Zorn, MindImmune’s CEO, also spoke at the event launching the successful “Yes on 4” bond referendum, which includes $20 million to fund one or more URI-affiliated innovation centers.

Outreach: We are actively participating in and supporting events and projects designed to help educate the public on neurodegenerative diseases. I’ve been delighted to give talks at Rhode Island Hospital, Rhode Island College, and for the Alzheimer’s Association. Other Ryan Institute staff have made presentations in the community and represented us at conferences. We’re helping to plan both the Rhode Island Alzheimer’s Research Conference and Brain Week Rhode Island.

These three areas are the heart of the work we do at the Ryan Institute, and moving all of them forward will continue to be our mission. We appreciate your interest in and support for the Ryan Institute.

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