“The Byrd”, as we affectionately call it, was established in 2002 by the state legislature as an autonomous facility dedicated to finding the cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The main catalyst for this ambitious effort came from then House Speaker, Johnnie Byrd, Jr., whose father suffered from the disease. Mr. Byrd recognized early on the devastating effect Alzheimer’s disease had on families (not just the patient); and he was prescient in understanding the national implications should the disease reach epidemic proportions as the population aged.
Over the course of Mr. Byrd’s political tenure, nearly $80 million was committed to construct our home building in Tampa and provide start-up funds for equipment, personnel and other resources. While the Byrd enjoyed many early successes, the State decided to transition control from politicians to academics. Beginning in 2009, all assets of the Byrd fell under the auspices of USF Health. This new partnership provided the scientific resources necessary to support on-going research projects.
In 2017, leadership within USF Health determined that the Neurosciences should become one of our main focal points for study. Dr. Harry van Loveren, Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery and Vice Dean of Clinical Affairs, was charged with creating the first USF Health Neuroscience Institute (NSI) which brought together the strength, talents and resources of five academic programs. The NSI would also include collaborative centers dedicated to specific Brain related diseases. The Byrd, therefore, became the first official “Center” within the NSI and remains the cornerstone of all activities within the Byrd building. Today, the Byrd Alzheimer’s Center and Research Institute is a multi-disciplinary destination for discoveries in Alzheimer’s care, cures and causes.