Lifespan’s Peter Snyder, PhD, to Head Statewide Committee on Neuroscience Research

June 8, 2016

SnyderPeter J. Snyder, PhD, senior vice president and chief research officer at Lifespan, has been named the inaugural chairman of the Rhode Island Neurosciences Leadership and Steering Committee, the panel responsible for leading a collaboration of Rhode Island’s most prominent research institutions engaged in the brain sciences.

Steven Rasmussen, MD, chair of the department of psychiatry and human behavior at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and representing Care New England on the committee, will serve as vice chair.

The new 10-member committee also announced at its first meeting last month that the collaboration has $200,000 in seed money. The committee is working on a thorough assessment of the organizations’ resources and capabilities, and identifying shared interests in the neurosciences.

memorandum of understanding was signed last year by leadership from Lifespan, Brown University, the University of Rhode Island, Care New England and the Providence VA Medical Center. The organizations are committed to working together to make rapid progress in neuroscience research by leveraging their individual specialties while using the sheer size and breadth of expertise of the partnership to attract major research grants, among other things.

The five institutions will focus on identifying causes and potential treatments for a wide range of diseases and disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, stroke, traumatic brain injury and autism.

“The neurosciences are a broad area of study, one in which we have the potential to effect some real advancements in our lifetime,” said Snyder. “It is not commonplace for academic and medical institutions to collaborate, rather than compete. The sharing of mutual goals by these institutions will allow us to maximize our resources, in terms of personnel, physical research space, and, of course, funding. I am honored to have been chosen as the first leader of this exciting endeavor.”

In his role at Lifespan, Snyder oversees a research division with approximately 300 researchers, 550 support staff and an $80 million grant portfolio. Snyder, also a professor in the department of neurology at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, received his doctorate in clinical neuropsychology and behavioral neuroscience from Michigan State University.

Snyder’s term on the committee will expire June 30, 2017, with Rasmussen becoming the subsequent chair. A member of the second graduating class (’77) of the Alpert School of Medicine, Rasmussen has been instrumental in fostering collaboration between the hospitals and campus-based researchers. He is a clinician and scientist widely known for his research in developing circuit-based neuromodulatory treatments for psychiatric disorders.

Along with creating a critical mass in attracting large grants, Snyder says the partnership has started exploring initiatives like research opportunities for students of the neurosciences and planning a statewide research conference around brain sciences.