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The Roanoke Times headlines "Virginia Tech's neuroscience school aims to connect students, researchers across disciplines"

May 9, 2016

Sunday May 8th, 2016 the Roanoke Times highlighted the establishment of the School of Neuroscience at Virginia Tech. The newspaper describes the importance and impact of its establishment for the community and for the nation.

The school is expected to strengthen the bridge between the Roanoke and Blacksburg campuses, be an integral part of the new health and science innovation district that Tech and Carilion Clinic are creating, and possibly make Tech as well -known for brain studies as it is for engineering.

The neuroscience school, which falls under the domain of the university’s College of Science, was hatched to attract not just potential brain scientists, but future lawyers, architects, investment bankers, even journalists and actors, who would benefit from understanding the inner workings of the mind.

“It is something that resonates with a lot of people,” said Lay Nam Chang, dean of the College of Science. “The brain is one thing; the mind is another where you make decisions, take risks, where the emotions sit. If you view it from that point of view, neuroscience touches not just the lab sciences but the social sciences.”

The school, its creators said, is responding to student demand. Already more than 200 students have signed on for a program that has yet to start, and Tech predicts that within a few years a thousand students will be enrolled in the new school.

“Nobody to our knowledge had elevated the importance and focus of neuroscience to such a high central organizing level, beyond a program or a department to the level of a school,” Friedlander said. “For Virginia Tech to make a statement we are going to be world leaders in this … it was like the floodgates opened. It tells you there was an enormous demand.”

“For Virginia Tech, this is a new venture,” Chang said. “It would not have been possible for me to entertain the idea of starting something like this if it were not for the fact that we do have some extremely well-known neuroscientists over at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Center.”

Not one of them majored in neuroscience as an undergraduate. It’s an emerging field, made possible by technological advances that allow researchers to peer into the brain in real time and begin to answer questions as old as the universe. Chang said brain studies are capturing more students’ imagination at a time that educators are seeing more potential in students’ abilities.

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