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updated: 5/4/2014 4:54 PM

New national brain science building named after former suburban congressman

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  • John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center in Bethesda, Md., was named after the longtime suburban congressman. During his more than two decades in Congress, Porter led efforts to direct more funding toward health research.

      John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center in Bethesda, Md., was named after the longtime suburban congressman. During his more than two decades in Congress, Porter led efforts to direct more funding toward health research.
    Photo from National Institutes of Health

  • Video: Kirk congratulates Porter

 
 

More than a dozen years after he left his northern suburban congressional seat, the National Institutes of Health has named its major brain science building after former Republican U.S. Rep. John Porter.

Porter spent more than 20 years representing the Northern suburbs in Congress, leaving in 2001 after a career that included work directing more money toward health research.

He was succeeded in Congress by a former staff member, Republican Mark Kirk, who Porter says "probably wouldn't be alive today" if it wasn't for advances in brain science over the past several decades.

The new John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center in Bethesda, Md., was dedicated to Porter last month and houses brain scientists from a number of disciplines.

"The fact that it's named after me isn't the important thing," Porter, 78, said.

Still, he said, he's "very gratified to have my name on the outside of it."

In Congress, Porter served on a subcommittee that controlled National Institutes of Health funding, a role that taught him a lot about science.

He says the benefit of his namesake building is having many different kinds of brain scientists all working in the same space, sharing ideas and learning from each other.

"We have learned that it's very wise to have people of different disciplines working together," Porter said.

Part of the building had opened a decade ago, but the full project was completed recently and named for Porter.

"The concept for this building first arose when we saw a need for a place that could bring together scientists studying all aspects of the brain," said Story C. Landis, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Porter now works as chairman of Research!America, a group advocating for more federal funding for health research.

At the dedication for the new building, Kirk appeared via video, praising "the Porter legacy" of increased federal funding for health science research.

"As a stroke survivor, I'm really thrilled that is going to be helping other Americans," Kirk said.

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