History of Stark Neurosciences Research Institute
Neuroscience research has a long history of excellence at Indiana University School of Medicine. This history is exemplified by the discovery of the inhibitory neurotransmitter, glycine, by Mori Aprison in the 1960s and by the pioneering work of Sidney Ochs on axonal transport. The rich tradition continues to this day as embodied in several highly productive neuroscience research groups, including two internationally recognized research centers funded by the National Institutes of Health; one to study Alzheimer’s Disease and the other alcoholism. In parallel with these efforts has been a local corporate focus on the development of drugs for neurological disorders at Eli Lilly and Company headquartered in Indianapolis.
Advancing Research through Philanthropy
One man has uniquely spanned both of these worlds and is the visionary force behind the Paul and Carole Stark Neurosciences Research Institute. Paul Stark served the Indiana University School of Medicine as a faculty member in Clinical Pharmacology and was also the leader of the clinical team at Eli Lilly that developed Prozac, the most widely prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) for the treatment of depression. In 1984, Stark founded the International Clinical Research Corporation, the first company to design and coordinate clinical drug trials and the forerunner of current firms such as Quintiles International.
In 1993, in the first of their generous contributions to the School of Medicine, the Stark family endowed the Paul Stark Professorship in Pharmacology, a position currently held by SNRI institute member and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Michael Vasko.
Then in 2000, with the support of their family, Paul Stark and his wife Carole provided the School of Medicine with a $15 million bequest to endow a multidisciplinary neurosciences research institute. In addition, they gave one million dollars to endow a fellowship program for graduate and medical training in neuroscience research. Their goal was to enable rigorous investigations of normal and abnormal function in the central nervous system using the most advanced technologies and to apply the resulting discoveries to the treatment of devastating neurological disorders. The concept—to provide a venue where scientists and clinicians from different disciplines would collaborate to advance understanding of the nervous system—is the central organizing principle of the institute.
The Paul and Carole Stark Neurosciences Research Institute was officially dedicated on September 12, 2003, and is housed in the new Research II Building on the Indiana University School of Medicine campus. New investigators are being recruited to the institute to join existing faculty in research programs which will extend the long history and enhance the legacy of the Stark family in supporting neuroscience discovery.