Morgantown, WV, May 22, 2019 – Last Thursday, the new Innovation Center at the West Virginia University Medicine Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) opened to the public. The grand opening comes not long after RNI celebrated last Fall after performing the first-ever noninvasive Alzheimer’s procedure using focused ultrasound. As part of WVUM’s investment in the neurosciences, this renovated facility equips RNI with the technology and infrastructure it needs to be a global leader and touch more lives than ever before.
The Innovation Center is designed to facilitate interdisciplinary research, learning, and treatment for a variety of critical neurological conditions. In addition to leading developments in the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease, RNI is pursuing a deeper understanding of depression and addiction, particularly around the opioid epidemic. The facility also focuses on the advancement of brain research in athletes and high-performance individuals.
The building houses a sleep research lab, a vivarium, and both a new Low-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (LIFU) and High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU). While the LIFU is used primarily for research applications, the HIFU enables an FDA-approved non-invasive modality which combines HIFU with MRI for the delivery of chemotherapeutic medications for the treatment of brain tumors.
A new human-performance center – complete with float tanks, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and light therapy – offers the tools to investigate neurological conditions of high-performance individuals such as Navy SEALS, professional athletes, fighter pilots, and other patient types.
The space seamlessly integrates administrative offices, a multidisciplinary collaborative habitat, wet labs, a display lab for public functions, and spaces to accommodate data analytics and machine learning.
By employing a combination of natural, tactile materials and fluid spatial gestures in the context of next-generation research, the architecture of the entire facility creates an accessible, meaningful workplace for both researchers and visitors seeking treatment. The lobby environment invigorates with large-scale neuroimaging commissioned by artist and neuroscientist Dr. Greg Dunn. Dr. Dunn’s stunning collection, Self Reflection, captures a sagittal brain slice at the level of the neuron, the most precise vector-imaging of the brain in existence. As described by Project Architect, Robyn Engel, AIA “the goal of the project was to craft a central space that approaches the sublime, with art that can be meaningful to trained professionals, stimulating for visitors, and awe-inspiring for everyone.”
Thanks to strong communication efforts and unity around a common goal, the IKM team and design partners successfully worked through numerous challenges to meet the project’s tight schedule. IKM Principal, John Keelan is most proud of how the design provides a physical manifestation of the Institute’s pursuit of abstract concepts: “This is not just a beautiful building. This design could only work for this facility.”