Change in HBTRC Leadership
After many months of thoughtful consideration, Francine M. Benes, MD, PhD, has decided to step down as director of the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center (HBTRC). Effective November 1, 2014 T. Wilson Woo, MD, PhD, and Sabina Berretta, MD, will take on the role as the Medical Director and Scientific Director, respectively, of the “Brain Bank.” Dr. Benes will continue to play a consultative role within the HBTRC as its executive director.
Since taking on the role of director of the HBTRC in 1995, Dr. Benes cultivated relationships with researchers both nationally and internationally and became a strong advocate for brain tissue donation. Under her leadership, the HBTRC became the largest brain tissue resource center in the world distributing tissue to neuroscientists throughout the U.S., Europe, South America and Asia. Recently, Dr. Benes successfully guided the HBTRC through a complex transition from being a private brain tissue resource center to one that is part of the NIH NeuroBioBank, a network of brains banks, coordinated by the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Benes, who has been a part of the McLean community since 1979, will continue as director of the Program in Structural and Molecular Neuroscience, where she will continue her pioneering work on how brain circuitry is altered in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Dr. Woo, has served as the associate director of the HBTRC for several years. He is also the director of the Laboratory of Cellular Neuropathology at McLean Hospital and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He earned his medical degree from National Taiwan University, received a doctorate in neurobiology from Cornell University, and completed his residency training in psychiatry at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital. Since joining the McLean community in 2003, Dr. Woo has focused his research on using novel techniques to study neuronal type-specific gene expression abnormalities in the cerebral cortex in schizophrenia. He is a research collaborator of both Drs. Benes and Berretta.
Dr. Berretta is the Director of the Translational Neuroscience Laboratory at McLean Hospital and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. She received her medical degree from the University of Catania, Italy, before moving in 1990 to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and then in 1997 to McLean Hospital. Her research focuses on the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, using a combination of postmortem human brain tissue and cell cultures from human biopsies. Her long term interest is the role that the brain extracellular matrix plays in major psychoses and normal brain plasticity.