HARLINGEN - UTRGV President Guy Bailey and Dr. John Krouse, executive vice president for Health Affairs and dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine, on Nov. 6 led a groundbreaking ceremony for the new UTRGV Institute for Neuroscience, a $30 million, world-class clinical and research site within the School of Medicine.

Participating in the event were UT System Regent Dr. Nolan Perez; Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell; Randy Whittington, president of the South Texas Medical Foundation; and Judy Quisenberry, executive director of the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation.

The interdisciplinary Institute for Neuroscience is funded in part by a $15 million gift from the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation, announced in February 2017.

UTRGV President Guy Bailey said partnerships with the South Texas Medical Foundation – which gifted the 35 acres on which the institute is being built – the City of Harlingen and the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation have made it possible to bring the world-class facility to fruition.

“The Institute for Neuroscience is a game-changer for the Rio Grande Valley,” Bailey said. “As we focus on the institute’s core activities – such as developing multidisciplinary research and clinical fellowships, early detection of psychotic disorders, and community education – we take another step in fulfilling our commitment to improving healthcare in South Texas.”

The institute, located at Haine Drive and North Whalen Road in Harlingen, will house clinics and diagnostic centers for numerous neuropsychiatric and aging disorders while also leading the way in clinical and laboratory research for the Valley.

Leading the institute will be Dr. Ihsan Salloum, a specialist in addiction psychiatry who joins UTRGV from the University of Miami, where he has been a professor and chief of the Division of Substance and Alcohol Abuse.

“The development of the Institute for Neuroscience creates an extremely exciting opportunity to conduct innovative interdisciplinary research to advance our understanding of functions and mechanisms underlying brain diseases and health,” said Salloum, who traveled some 20 hours from Japan to attend the ceremony.

“It will act as a catalyst for scientists across basic and clinical translational disciplines to advance basic discoveries into clinical application, and will strive to educate future generations of neuroscientists. We will be able to serve the Rio Grande Valley community with its most pressing brain health needs,” he said.

ABOUT THE FACILITY

Dr. John Krouse, dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine and executive vice president for Health Affairs, said as the departments of neurology, psychiatry and neurosciences grow, the 32,570-square-foot, two-story building will house clinicians and scientists in an interdisciplinary environment where they can interact to develop and test new ideas for behavioral health and neurological care.

“This amazing facility will serve as a collaborative incubator to train the neurologists, psychiatrists and neuroscientists of the future,” Krouse said. “And it will all happen right here, in the Rio Grande Valley.”

Over time, specialties available at the institute will include cerebrovascular disease, neuromuscular disease, memory disorders, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, other neurodegenerative diseases associated with aging and behavioral health issues across the lifespan.

Muñoz & Co. Architects of San Antonio are leading the project. Construction is slated to begin in March with utility work.

The building pad and other construction will start in June or July. Completion date is slotted for July 2021.