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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Neuroscience center opens

By Lana Groves, Asst. News Editor

U researchers have a bigger and better place to call home in the new Clinical Neurosciences Center.

The $20 million center, which is a total of 90,000 square feet located between the U Hospital and the Huntsman Cancer Institute, combines sections of the neurology department in an interdisciplinary environment where researchers can work together.

“We try to integrate research and improve patient care by putting all our physicians in the same box,” said Bruce Garrett, a neurosurgeon at the U. “This is a formula that’s been tried and tested for the last 100 years.”

U administrators have been working for years to build a strong neurology department, and according to researchers, they need it now more than ever.

Edwin A. “Steve” Stevens, chair of neuroradiology, said the neurology department has seen increases in the number of patients.

Stevens said the higher number of patients is partly due to the expertise and national acclaim the department is receiving.

“It’s a combination of factors,” he said. “More regional referrals than we’ve seen in the past, and the population of Utah is growing…and aging.”

The new center includes four operating rooms, library and research centers for strokes and neurosciences and 38 general exam rooms.

Computers and 19-inch monitors fill every exam room to give researchers a chart-free and digital X-ray technology they can use.

Bill Couldwell, chairman of neurosurgery, said it’s an investment to bring in state-of-the-art operating rooms and researchers from around the world to work in a specific department.

The U Neurosciences Center is one of only two centers in the Intermountain West, he said. The other center is the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Ariz.

Pat McAllister, a neurosurgeon and researcher in the department, works on treatments for leaking brain fluids that cause hundreds of deaths annually. The neurology researcher moved into his new lab space Wednesday and is impressed with the size and openness of the rooms.

“I wish I could remember how many square feet this is, but it’s about our old office space times five,” McAllister said.

The neurology operating rooms are also bigger than the original space, and they incorporate a new technique that places operating beds in the middle of the room instead of against the wall.

“If intervention is needed quickly at the head of the bed, we can get there quickly,” said Garrett, who is in the process of moving into the new center’s facilities.

Garrett said that by this time next year they’ll have about 23 easily accessible patient beds added to the center.

Thanks to the new design and increased space, family members will also have room to be close to patients, Garrett said.

Eric Huang, a neurology researcher who recently received more than $1 million in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health, also said the lab space is conducive to a collaborative working environment.

Huang, who worked at NIH more than three years ago, has been working on finding the mechanism that triggers tumor progression since before the U recruited him for the neurology department.

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