- Associated Press - Saturday, December 5, 2015

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Five top Rhode Island neuroscience research institutions are teaming up to better understand - and seek treatments for - a range of brain-centered health troubles like autism, epilepsy, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury.

Lifespan CEO Timothy Babineau said that the agreement presents an important opportunity for the institutions and the state.

“Just as with cardiac disease and cancer, true breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatment occur only when there is collaboration among and between disciplines and institutions,” Babineau said in statement.

Lifespan’s Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute is one of the five institutions joining forces.

The other institutions include the University of Rhode Island’s George and Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience, the Providence VA Medical Center’s Center of Excellence for Neurorestoration and Neurotechnology, and Brown University’s Brown Institute for Brain Science.

Care New England’s psychiatry research division at Butler Hospital and its autism research unit at Women and Infants Hospital are also part of the team.

As part of the agreement, the institutions will also work together on pilot grant programs, cross-institutional appointments, educational opportunities for researchers and staff, and the sharing of information, equipment and facilities. The agreement also calls for the creation of a Committee on Coordination on Neuroscience Research within Rhode Island.

The goal of the committee is to help spearhead the initiatives envisioned by the collaboration.

Gov. Gina Raimondo praised the effort saying that sharing information and research across university and health care partners will lead to valuable treatments.

“As we work to crack the code of brain sciences, teamwork is more important than ever to find solutions to keep people healthy,” Raimondo said in a statement. “Combining our existing neuroscience expertise will also take our research capabilities to the next level, and put Rhode Island on the map as a place of innovation and collaboration.”

Officials said Rhode Island is the only state to have such an effort of all the major institutions involved in this field.

Brown University President Christina Paxson said the partnership will help the school improve its ability to attract more funding and the best faculty and students. She said it will also accelerate the pace of research and add to the diversity of ideas in classrooms.

“The challenges of mental health and brain disease in Rhode Island and the world demand not just that we make progress, but that we make a real, positive difference in the lives of people,” Paxson said.

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