Message from Our Leadership

The mission of the Stony Brook University Neurosciences Institute is to enhance and facilitate institutional contributions to clinical care, research, and education with a focus on the nervous system: the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and muscle.

Disorders of the brain in particular exact a terrible toll on humankind at all ages of life. Almost everyone has personal experience with a major brain disorder, in themselves, an immediate family member, or a close friend. In the United States, data from several years ago indicated that over 50 million Americans had brain disorders, resulting in an annual economic cost of over $500 billion. More recent European data suggests that these figures are too low: 38% of that population suffers from brain disorders, at an annual economic cost of about $1 trillion (greater than the cost of cancer and heart disease combined). Mood disorders, dementia, and psychotic disorders topped the European list. While the impact of specific diseases differs in developed versus developing nations, brain disorders contribute massively to the burden of disease in all nations. According to a recent study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, stroke was the second leading cause of death worldwide in 2010. And nervous system disorders accounted for half of the top 20 worldwide causes of disability (12 of the top 20 if falls and road injury are counted, both of which commonly stem from brain problems such as motor or sensory impairment, alcohol addiction, or sleep disorders).

The Stony Brook University Neuroscience Institute seeks to contribute to the great fight against nervous system disorders by providing world-class clinical care, by advancing the nature of this care through research, and by training the neuro-clinicians and neuroscientists of tomorrow. Our primary clinical responsibility is to provide 24/7 care to the residents of Suffolk County, which spans 86 miles on easternmost Long Island, and is home to 1.5 million people. Stony Brook University Hospital is the only tertiary medical center and Level 1 trauma center in Suffolk County, serving as a regional health care hub, with referral linkages or partnerships with multiple area community hospitals. But we also draw patients from well outside our region, who come to Stony Brook specifically to see some of our distinguished specialists. We diagnose and treat the full range of nervous system (brain, spinal cord, nerve, and muscle) disorders affecting both adults and children. These include stroke (our around-the-clock acute stroke service is recognized by the American Heart Association with a Gold Plus award), mood disorders, schizophrenia, addiction, aneurysms, spine problems, traumatic injuries, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, sleep disorders, chronic pain, brain tumors, cerebral palsy, and autism. The Neurosciences Institute aims to provide a framework for the interdisciplinary clinical integration of medical and surgical specialties, so our patients can benefit from the best approaches, independent of the departments involved.

The Neurosciences Institute also promotes interdisciplinary research integration, as modern frontiers in neuroscience research have become too complex to be fully addressed by single labs, disciplines, or departments. Many questions are best addressed by teams of investigators, equipped with a broad array of tools, including genetics, molecular and cellular biology, electrophysiology, anatomy, neurochemistry, behavioral science, and imaging. Often, synergistic studies are conducted in parallel in basic research laboratories and in human subjects. And increasingly, neuroscience research engages the efforts of engineers, computer scientists, physicists, chemists, mathematicians, and statisticians, so the Neurosciences Institute benefits by being part of an outstanding larger university community with faculty experts in all of these disciplines. And the Institute is proud to collaborate in various ways with other outstanding institutions, some in our neighborhood (Cold Spring Harbor Labs; Brookhaven National Labs), some throughout the world.

Research within the Neurosciences Institute has two main goals. First, to contribute to the development of the new diagnostic tests and more powerful therapies that patients world-wide need. And second, to advance fundamental understandings of ourselves and our minds. The nervous system is by far the most intricate part of the human body, responsible for all that we truly are: our consciousness, thoughts, memories, emotions, hopes, and dreams. It provides us with sensory inputs, allowing us to perceive the world around us; and motor capabilities, allowing us to act. Neuroscience research is now a national priority, an internal counterpart to the great external research frontier represented by the fields of physics and astronomy. Increasing our understanding of our brains and minds is essential to our hopes to transcend our limitations: to achieve more both individually and collectively, and to build more effective and just societies.

Welcome to our Neurosciences Institute.


Patricia K. Coyle
Co-Director, Neurosciences Institute
Interim Chair, Department of Neurology

Raphael Davis, MD
Co-Director, Neurosciences Institute
Chair, Department of Neurosurgery

Anissa Abi-Dargham, MD
Co-Director, Neurosciences Institute
Chair, Department of Psychiatry
and Behavioral Health


Alfredo Fontanini, MD, PhD
Co-Director, Neurosciences Institute
Chair, Department of Neurobiology
and Behavior