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Dec 3, 2012

Neuroscience Research Gets Big Boost

  • The University of Nevada, Reno has been awarded a program grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, to establish a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) in integrative neuroscience.

    The COBRE will bring together established researchers from many units on campus who are using diverse approaches to understand the brain and neurological disorders, and will provide major funding for five junior faculty to begin building a critical mass of expertise in neuroscience research. The grant also brings the facilities and resources that will provide researchers at the university access to modern technologies for imaging neural activity.

    The five junior faculty whose projects will be supported by the new COBRE grant will each be mentored by two senior faculty members. The grant also provides support for administrative and research support staff, and will support several postdoctoral and graduate students. As the currently supported faculty advance to independent federal funding, the COBRE will be in place to attract and support new faculty investigators.

    Marian Berryhill, assistant professor of psychology, will explore the neural basis of working memory and the potential use of neuroimaging and neurostimulation techniques to help the aging and injured with their working, or short-term, memory. Gideon Caplovitz, assistant professor of psychology, will focus on spatiotemporal integration in the visual system in normal participants and perceptual deficits in sleep-restricted or brain-injured patients. Alexander van der Linden, assistant professor in biology, will study the molecular and neural circuits controlling circadian rhythms and their implications for sleep disorders and associated neural impairments, including strokes. Alex Keene, assistant professor of biology, will explore the neural mechanisms underlying memory loss induced by sleep deprivation. Xiaoshan Zhu, assistant professor of electrical and biomedical engineering, will research the application of nanobiosensing to potentially detect, and then treat, neural damage.

    The Integrative Neuroscience Center will build additional infrastructure at the university. It will provide for training of faculty to use and analyze neural imaging technologies, including MRI. A computer lab will be established at the university for analyzing images, and until the university is able to obtain MRI equipment of its own, it will collaborate with UC Davis to take advantage of their facilities.

    The Integrative Neuroscience Center is the third COBRE program currently under way at the university and the University of Nevada School of Medicine, which is the most any institution is allowed at one time.

    In 2012, the NIGMS budget was $2.4 billion. The institute supports nearly 4,675 grants for basic research and training nationwide, with a mission to increase the understanding of life processes and lay the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.


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