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Dr. Allen Huffcutt tries the Mind Flex game, in which thoughts control the movement of a ball, with help from Catilin Banister.
Cutting-edge brain research will soon take place at Bradley University as area physicians, radiologists, neurologists and Bradley faculty and students share resources and ideas.
The Center for Collaborative Brain Research debuted today, featuring a partnership between Bradley, the Department of Radiology at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, and the Illinois Neurological Institute. An open house to introduce the Center took place this evening in Bradley’s Markin Family Student Recreation Center.
“The brain is one of the final frontiers,” said Dr. Lori Russell-Chapin, a professor in Bradley’s College of Education and Health Sciences and one of the Center’s co-director. “We now know that the brain is plastic; we know that it’s moldable. The more we know, the more it will change the way we do a lot of things. We are so fortunate that we can pool our resources and do some of these new things.”
Combining resources will allow specialists to enhance their research in fields such as robotics, compression, neurology, radiology, strokes, seizures, dietetics, counseling, and geriatrics, among others. The collaboration will also improve the Center’s chances for securing federal funding and private grants.
“This new network will provide researchers from each institution opportunities to easily work with others who have common interests yet different specialties,” said Co-director Dr. Wen-Ching Lui from the OSF Saint Francis Medical Center Department of Radiology. “With more vigorous contacts between institutions and basic sciences, the CCBR will provide a more effective research environment.”
The Center will be located in Bradley’s College of Health and Sciences before moving to a renovated Westlake Hall. But research will also occur at OSF, where a functional MRI facility will be used for data acquisition and brain function mapping. About 30 Bradley faculty members are currently involved in the project.
"Our vision is to enable this center and our collaborators – academic researchers and clinical caregivers, alike – to become leaders in brain research – in the region, in the nation, and even throughout the world," said Bradley President Joanne Glasser. “Make no mistake: this center and those working within it will produce first-class, world-class research.”
The greater Peoria area will also benefit from the Center. Children will be able to attend summer camps and workshops offered by the Center. Nationally known speakers will give public lectures about topics such as Alzheimer’s or how music affects the brain.
The Center has a three-year strategic plan that includes expanding research projects, augmenting community involvement and continuing neuropsychological brain research.
Because the brain affects nearly everything humans do, students, faculty and community members from myriad disciplines will benefit from the Center.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re in teaching, neurology or radiology or a mechanic,” Russell-Chapin said. “If the brain doesn’t work, we’re in trouble. This Center will have an impact on Peoria regionally, nationally and perhaps globally.”