One of the greatest challenges ever faced by science is the exploration of the human brain. Extraordinary advances in genome research and imaging technologies provide unprecedented opportunities to study the nervous system and previously intractable neurological and psychiatric disorders. Diseases of the nervous system can take a tremendous toll on individuals and their families, and have emerged as a leading public health problem. According to estimates from the National Institute of Health, schizophrenia and depression affect more than 20 million Americans each. Three to six children out of every 1,000 will have autism spectrum disorder. Diseases that cause mental and sensory impairment, chronic pain, migraine, and neuro-degeneration pose additional challenges to many individuals and society alike.
To address many of the most important problems facing contemporary molecular and behavioral neuroscience, The Scripps Research Institute has established the Dorris Neuroscience Center as a result of a generous long-term commitment by Helen L. Dorris through The Harold L. Dorris Neuroscience Foundation, named in her brother's honor. Located on the La Jolla campus, the Dorris Neuroscience Center leverages the tradition of Scripps Research as a multidisciplinary institute bringing biological, biophysical, and chemical approaches to the study of the nervous system. Many of the investigators of the center have their laboratory within the Harold L. Dorris Neuroscience Center Building, a 53,000 square-foot-building with state-of-the art facilities for imaging and behavioral studies. Members of the Dorris Neuroscience Center explore some of the most fundamental questions in neuroscience research. How do stem cells differentiate to generate neuronal circuits? How do sensory systems process information? How do we store and retrieve memories? What are the mechanisms that lead to sensory impairment such as hearing loss or to debilitating diseases such as schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder, and depression? Finally, what are useful strategies for the treatment of these diseases? The multidisciplinary approach of this group of scientists and their interaction with other researchers at the La Jolla and Jupiter campuses of Scripps Research will help this group lead the way in our increasing understanding of brain function and revealing novel strategies and targets for the treatment of nervous system disorders.