WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute opens new Innovation Center

Convenes inaugural Summit to explore the latest breakthroughs in combating public health challenges and optimizing brain health and performance

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) announced today (April 23) that it will be opening its new Innovation Center and convening its inaugural Summit from Wednesday to Thursday, May 15-16, in Morgantown. 

Artist's rendering of the new WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute Innovation Center
Artist's rendering of the new WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute Innovation Center

The “Breaking Barriers” Summit will begin with a grand opening and tours of its new state-of-the-art Center at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, with remarks from the RNI’s Founder, Sen. John D. “Jay” Rockefeller IV. On Thursday, the conference will explore breakthroughs in combating public health challenges and optimizing brain health and performance, featuring the latest technology and discoveries of scientists and physicians at the RNI and partnering organizations from academia, healthcare, industry, foundations, athletics, and the military. 

Topics will include a wide range of groundbreaking developments, including:

  • using a new focused ultrasound technology to break the blood-brain barrier for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease; 
  • leveraging the latest innovations for targeted treatments for addiction and chronic pain; 
  • utilizing wearable sensors, machine learning, and predictive analytics in neuroscience; and 
  • prescriptive recovery and performance improvement among elite athletes and military forces.

Sam Quinones, bestselling author of “DREAMLAND: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic,” will present the keynote address. In addition, a best-in-class gathering of acclaimed healthcare experts, scientists, and public officials will share the stage with pioneering patients who are breaking barriers in spinal cord injuries, addiction recovery, and Alzheimer’s research, many of them participating in first-in-the-world clinical trials. 

RNI’s new Innovation Center is a dedicated building featuring the latest technology for rapid applied human research. This unique facility has unparalleled capabilities in Human Performance and Recovery, Neuromodulation, Virtual Realty, Imaging, and Neuroscience Predictive Data Analytics all under one roof. The Center is working with national and international experts in a variety of public-private partnerships designed to accelerate discoveries and translate them into real-life applications. 

“As a land-grant university, West Virginia University is rooted in purpose. The RNI reflects this value system, tirelessly searching for treatments that will directly affect and improve lives,” Gordon Gee, president of West Virginia University, said. “We take particular pride in the fact that several of the world’s inaugural clinical trials in neuroscience are occurring here in Morgantown. We are eager to share our work with a larger audience.”

Held at the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute Innovation Center at WVU and the Morgantown Marriott at Waterfront Place, the Summit will feature exhibitions, keynotes, panels, and discussions and will be moderated by renowned science correspondent Miles O’Brien. 

“The establishment of the RNI and the new Innovation Center reflects the vision of Sen. Jay Rockefeller to create a world-class facility in West Virginia to help tackle some of our biggest public health challenges, such as Alzheimer’s and addiction,” Ali Rezai, M.D., executive chair of RNI and John D. Rockefeller IV Chair in Neuroscience, said. “We are excited to showcase our partnership efforts with academic, military, and sports science and industry leaders working together at the RNI.”

Highlights of additional Summit speakers, in alphabetical order, include but are not limited to: 

  • Neal Brown, head coach, WVU Football
  • Tony Buettner, Blue Zones national spokesperson; 
  • Lindsay R. Chura, Ph.D., chief scientific officer at the Global Council of Brain Health and senior policy and research advisor for AARP; 
  • Bill J. Crouch, cabinet secretary, West Virginia Dept. of Health and Human Resources; 
  • Maurice Ferré, M.D., CEO, INSIGHTEC;
  • Bill Gaussa, head of advanced innovation, Philips; 
  • Rebekah Gee, M.D., secretary of health for the State of Louisiana;  
  • David “Ted” George, M.D., senior scientist, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism;
  • Peter Hartzbech, CEO, iMotions; 
  • Major General James Hoyer, the adjutant general, West Virginia; 
  • Gregory Licholai, M.D., co-director, Yale Center for Digital Health and Innovation; 
  • Clay B. Marsh, M.D., vice president and executive dean for Health Sciences, WVU; 
  • Geoffrey S. Martha, executive vice president and president, Restorative Therapies Group at Medtronic; 
  • Eric Schoomaker, M.D., Ph.D., lieutenant general, U.S. Army (RET), director, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; 
  • Mark Stephenson, director of Player Performance for the Detroit Lions; 
  • Matt Thomas, VP and general manager, STIM and Early Interventions, Medtronic; 
  • Ginny Thrasher, WVU Rifle Team and 2016 Olympic gold medalist; and
  • Albert L. Wright, Jr., president and CEO, WVU Health System. 

The Summit will conclude with additional tours of the Innovation Center from 8-10:30 a.m. on Friday, May 17. 

To learn more and register for the event, visit the RNI Inaugural Summit website.

About the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI)
We are improving lives by pioneering advances in brain health. With the latest technologies, an ecosystem of partners, and a truly integrated approach, we are making tangible progress. Our breakthroughs in neuroscience and human performance among athletes and the military in turn strengthen our efforts to combat public health challenges ranging from addiction to Alzheimer’s, benefiting the people of West Virginia, neighboring states, and beyond. Learn more about the RNI’s first-in-the-world clinical trials and the top caliber experts joining us in our mission. The Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute: Breaking Barriers.