Thanks to a generous donation from Mrs. Lily Safra (one of the largest in the history of Brazilian science), along with support provided by our public and private institutional partners, we have reached our goal of turning the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute of Neuroscience of Natal (ELS-IINN) into a world renowned center for biomedical research and scientific education, and paradigm for socio-economic development in Rio Grande do Norte State.

At the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute of Neuroscience of Natal (ELS-IINN), we believe that the production and dissemination of scientific knowledge are important driving forces to promote social and economic progress in developing countries like Brazil. This vision is grounded not only in the relevant economic contribution that the expansion of scientific work brings to developing countries, but also in the belief that the increase in high quality scientific production, characterized by high ethical values, can play a crucial role in the cultural education of future generations of Brazilians.
The primary mission of the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute of Neuroscience of Natal (ELS-IINN) is to promote the implementation and growth of cutting edge scientific research that can contribute to the educational, social, and economic development of the Rio Grande do Norte State and the entire northeast region of Brazil. To achieve this goal, all science research programs developed at ELS-IINN are linked to educational and social initiatives aimed at assisting the population of the cities of Natal and Macaíba and nearby towns. The ELS-IINN social programs primarily focus on child development and education, and on primary health care for women. We also hope that in the long run, the ELS-IINN will provide a catalyst for the development of knowledge-based economic initiatives to help promote sustainable and ecologically balanced growth of the Brazilian northeast.


The desire to use science as an agent to promote social and educational transformation and the belief that high quality research production should be disseminated throughout the country were key factors in the decision to establish the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute of Neuroscience of Natal (ELS-IINN) outside Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Minas Gerais, the main economic and research production centers of Brazil.

With a Human Development Index (HDI)/income of only 0.636 and an illiteracy rate of 34% (according to the United Nations Development Program UNDP), the city of Macaiba in Rio Grande do Norte state was carefully selected as the main site of most of the facilities and projects of the ELS-IINN.

Overall, our long-term goal is to contribute to the ongoing process of eliminating the economic and social disparities observed between the Brazilian northeast and the more economically developed southern region of the country, by decentralizing the dissemination and production of knowledge and fostering access to top quality scientific education for children enrolled in the Rio Grande do Norte public education system.

Modern brain research is leading to the generation of a variety of new therapies and technologies. Altogether, these new products will define a revolutionary industry, the so-called “industry of the brain,” which will most certainly have a profound impact on society. From new prosthetic limbs controlled directly by thought, to new therapies for Parkinson’s disease, a series of scientific breakthroughs and discoveries point to a very promising future for neuroscience. Indeed, more than 500 companies in the US alone are focusing their work on new ways to treat neurological diseases. Such companies have been investing in cutting-edge research and technology development since the early 1990’s. Our goal is to bring this new field of industrial development to Brazil by establishing joint-ventures between the ELS-IINN and leading foreign partners interested in investing in the creation and development of the “Brazilian Industry of the Brain.”
Exchanging Ideas
As part of a global network of leading scientific institutions sponsored by the International Neuroscience Network Foundation, the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute of Neuroscience (ELS-IINN) regularly hosts investigators from all over the world who are willing to participate in doctorate and post doctorate programs, sabbaticals and international courses taught by world renowned neuroscientists.

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