LA JOLLA, Calif., Oct. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 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."
Salk Institute is internationally renowned as one of the leading institutions for neuroscience research, and has been recognized by the Institute of Science Information for its influential discoveries in brain research and by the National Research Council of the National Academies as a top program in the neurosciences.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) is the nation's leading funder of research on the brain and nervous system. The NINDS mission is to reduce the burden of neurological disease-a burden borne by every age group, by every segment of society, by people all over the world. For more information please visit www.ninds.nih.gov.
About the Salk Institute for Biological Studies:
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is one of the world's preeminent basic research institutions, where internationally renowned faculty probe fundamental life science questions in a unique, collaborative, and creative environment. Focused both on discovery and on mentoring future generations of researchers, Salk scientists make groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of cancer, aging, Alzheimer's, diabetes and infectious diseases by studying neuroscience, genetics, cell and plant biology, and related disciplines.
Faculty achievements have been recognized with numerous honors, including Nobel Prizes and memberships in the National Academy of Sciences. Founded in 1960 by polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk, M.D., the Institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark.
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SOURCE Salk Institute for Biological Studies