JHU-affiliated Lieber Institute announces brain development research consortium

The Lieber Institute for Brain Development, a Johns Hopkins-affiliated nonprofit based in the new Johns Hopkins Bioscience Park in East Baltimore, has partnered with five leading pharmaceutical companies to create an early-stage research consortium to gain insight into genetic factors of developmental brain disorders in hopes of identifying new treatment options.

The institute will partner with Astellis, Eli Lilly and Company, Lundbeck, Pfizer, and Roche to analyze RNA, the genomic and epigenetic data obtained from human brains

"Our goal in creating this collaboration with the private industry is to speed discoveries that may improve the lives of individuals suffering from brain disorders," said Daniel R. Weinberger, director and CEO of the Lieber Institute. "This consortium is a bold initiative with the potential to have broad relevance across the spectrum of human brain disorders. By uniting diverse scientists from different sectors, we have created a new model of cooperative research that is designed to accomplish ambitious goals with efficiency and focus."

The scientists will work together to define the biological processes that guide the growth and development of the healthy human brain and attempt to identify how these processes go awry to create developmental disorders. Research findings will be made public for scientists around the world.

The Lieber Institute has the world's most extensive curated collection of human brain specimens—more than 1,300, spanning the normal human lifespan from fetal life to late life and including hundreds of brain samples from individuals who had developmental brain disorders during life. This rare collection of brain samples offers an opportunity to study how genes and the environment construct a brain, and to potentially identify new and effective treatments.