The Institute for Translational Neuroscience (ITN) grew out of the University of Minnesota Presidential Initiative on Brain Function across the Lifespan. It was advanced by the external review of neuroscience in February 2006 and by the work of a Leadership Advisory Committee, chaired by Deborah Powell in her capacity as the former assistant vice president for clinical sciences, that worked from July through December 2006.
In February 2007, Frank Cerra, former senior vice president for health sciences officially inaugurated the institute. In his charge to the institute's steering committee, he outlined four thematic areas that seek to connect basic neuroscientific discovery to improving clinical care and new treatments and therapies. The four areas are: neuroengineering; neurodevelopment and mental health, neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases; and memory research and care. Since 2011, the four areas have evolved to include imaging via the high powered magnets in the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research. These themes represent the breadth of strength and opportunity in the translational neurosciences across the University.
The Institute is not a brick and mortar entity but an umbrella organization. Administratively, a director and a steering committee head the institute, with the director reporting to the vice president for health sciences and dean of the Medical School.