Integrated Sciences Building to be renovated with new collaborative laboratory

Sara Morse

The Integrated Sciences Building (ISB) is set to receive a collaborative laboratory next fall courtesy of the Brain Health Research Institute.

The Brain Health Research Institute is a multidisciplinary collaboration in neuroscience research and education at Kent State. Their new laboratory in the ISB will be used to not only teach students but act as a space for researchers.

Associate Director of Architecture and Engineering Jay Graham said the laboratory is still in the design phase and can be expected to be completed by early Fall of 2020. The project is part of the Gateway to a Distinctive Kent State plan, which will transform the campus over the next ten years.

The basement of the ISB will be converted into what is being called the “home base” for the Brain Health Research Institute.

The director of the Brain Health Research Institute, Dr. Michael Lehman, has been instrumental in the design of the new home base. The Brain Health Research Institute will feature space for its faculty, as well as the faculty at the Advanced Materials Institute. The remainder of the space will be for what is called a “collaboratory.”

The collaboratory is a space Lehman said, “doesn’t belong to any individual or to a single department or college.” It is a shared space where researchers and students can be brought together with the equipment they need.

There are three collaboratories within the Brain Health Research Institute. The first of which is called the Neurocognitive Collaboratory, which utilizes human subject research in brain health.

“[The Neurocognitive Collaboratory will] use things like EEG [electroencephalogram, a test that is used to find problems in the brain], we hope infrared imaging, and maybe even virtual reality, to test behavior and try to understand how the brain works,” Lehman said.

The second collaboratory is called the “Integrated Neurobiology Collaboratory” which is based on animal research using models, not live animals. Lehman said a big part of this is utilizing advanced light microscopes.

“The light sheet microscope is a new piece of equipment that allows you to visualize neurons in the whole brain without slicing it up,” he said. “It’s really a cool approach.”

The third and final collaboratory is the Biomaterials Collaboratory. This would be a joint collaboratory between the Brain Health Institute and the Advanced Materials Institute.

“It’ll be the idea of how we can use our knowledge of advanced materials to explore brain function and intervene to provide therapies for disease in ways we can’t now,” Lehman said.

Lehman is looking forward to bringing brain health and advanced materials together.

“When you have these two very different types of institutes with different focuses on brain health and advanced materials in the same building, you have the opportunity to do something really creative,” Lehman said. “We’re doing something at Kent that is not the common mode, it’s a different way of approaching what we do.”

Sara Morse covers construction. Contact her at [email protected].