NIH awards Salk Institute $4.5M to establish new Neuroscience Core Center

New Neuroscience Core Center to focus on supporting basic brain research

The National Institutes of Health has announced that the Salk Institute will receive $4.5 million to establish a Neuroscience Core Center, a new research center intended to accelerate brain research that lays the foundation for developing new ways to treat congenital brain defects and neurological diseases.

The new center is one of three established nationally this year by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to focus on basic brain research. More than half of Salk's faculty is engaged in neuroscience research, and the five-year grant will support their work by providing access to new technology and expertise.

"We are very excited about this center because it will provide unique services of great use to many of the institute's investigators, and will help expand our understanding of a range of neurological disorders, " says Dennis O'Leary, the Vincent J. Coates Professor of Molecular Neurobiology at Salk, who will serve as director of the new center. "Salk is already a leader in brain research and this center will be an exponential boost to our ability to do cutting-edge research in neuroscience."

The new NIH-funded center will provide research support in three areas that are particularly important for neuroscience: genome manipulation, imaging and behavioral studies.

The genome manipulation core will help scientists develop genetically modified mice as model organisms to study human neurological diseases, such as autism, schizophrenia and Alzheimer's. "We can manipulate embryonic stem cells to make different types of mice that have genes altered to relate to specific diseases," O'Leary says.

The imaging core will focus on electron microscopy and integrating structural analysis across imaging technologies to help scientists visualize the cellular and molecular mechanisms at work in mental disease.

"Brain researchers are increasingly focused on the links between genes and behavior, exploring how genetics play a role in brain development, which is ultimately manifested in a person's ability to function," O'Leary says. "These research cores will provide scientists with greatly needed resources and facilities for accomplishing the goals of this research. By centralizing and expanding these services, the center will provide Salk scientists access to new research technologies and free them from having to reinvent the wheel for each new project."

"This grant from the National Institutes of Health will provide a tremendous boost to the neuroscience research at the Salk, and we are grateful for their continuing support," says Salk Institute President William R. Brody. "Under Dennis O'Leary's leadership this new center will speed discovery of how genetic changes alter abilities such as motor function, learning and memory."

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