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Neuroscience Center

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Francis W. Flynn, Ph.D. -Graduate Program Director


1000 E. University Ave

Dept. 3166

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-6446

Fax: 307-766-5625

Neuroscience Center

NIH Neuroscience Center Overview: 2000 to today-

The NIH Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) at the University of Wyoming was initiated in 2000 with the successful funding of the Center grant. This grant was part of the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program to broaden the geographic distribution of NIH funding for biomedical and behavioral research. The NCRR identified that the "objectives of the program was to foster health-related research and strengthen institutional biomedical research capabilities by expanding and developing biomedical faculty research capability through support of a multidisciplinary center.." Since 2000 the COBRE has: 1) had a positive impact on the research development of a number of biomedical and neuroscience faculty, 2) enabled the recruitment of new neuroscience faculty, 3) fostered the growth of graduate Neuroscience education (both a MS and PhD in Neuroscience are offered), 4) established a state-of-the art Microscopy Facility, directed by Dr. Zhaojie Zhang.  The Microscopy Facility has the leadership and instrumentation for virtually any imaging need.

COBRE Objectives 2000-2011: The National Institutes of Health has awarded the UW Neuroscience Program and Center a five year, $10.2 Million grant (2006-2011).  The Neuroscience Center grant provides research support for the Graduate Neuroscience Program, neuroscience investigators, and shared research facilities, such as Microscopy. The programmatic objective of COBRE is to establish a sustainable Center for Neuroscience, and the Neuroscience Center faculty is developing by the augmentation of existing faculty. Core research facilities have been established that have enhanced the biomedical research capability of investigators and which are necessary for the continued growth of the Neuroscience Center.  Innovative research programs have developed as a result of COBRE and provide Core facilities needed for brain imaging and analysis of the genetic and protein structure of the nervous system. Multidisciplinary teams comprised of electrical engineers, electrophysiologists, and behavioral neuroscientists, will focus on the study of changes in neuronal function which are essential for the survival of the animal and normal brain function. The Neuroscience COBRE investigators work on interrelated projects that seek to understand how central nervous system circuitry and neural pathways adapt to changes in sensory information. The overall scientific objective is to advance our understanding of neural systems which control sensory processing, neurochemical and neuroendocrine signaling and behavior, so as to facilitate prevention and treatment of pathological states like "sensory neglect", neuroendocrine dysfunction, and chronic pain.

National Institutes of Health P30 Center Core grant: The National Institutes of Health has awarded the UW Neuroscience Center a five year, ~$5.1 Million grant (20011-2016). The Center Core grant will support Career Development, Pilot Research Projects (for assembling preliminary data for grants), and the Microscopy Core. The Neuroscience Center is comprised of 12 neuroscientists who combine expertise in neuroplasticity, neuroanatomy, behavioral neuroscience, and molecular biology to identifying mechanisms that guide normal brain development and those that underlie neuropathological processes. The overall goal of the Neuroscience Center is to increase the effectiveness of Center investigators to complete current research projects and to foster synergies between researchers that combine various expertise to answer pressing neurological health issues.
Research progress of Neuroscience Center investigators has led to new hypotheses and experimental questions pertaining to how nervous system morphology and function changes with the life-stage, disease, experience, as well as experimental manipulation. The Neuroscience Center will provide the structure for building innovative and productive collaborations that address major biomedical issues related to mechanisms of synaptic plasticity, neurodegeneration, and chronic pain. The Pilot Project Program will be instrumental in facilitating interactions between the basic and translational researchers on campus, and in bringing together investigators currently funded by NIH to establish innovative, interdisciplinary collaborations that focus on brain function.  Key to the research success of the Neuroscience Center investigators is access to state-of-the art microscopy instrumentation. During the past 10 years of COBRE support, a strong Microscopy Core facility was established to support NIH-funded research projects. Use of the Core facility is increasing due to the institutional commitment to the Neuroscience COBRE that resulted in six new neuroscience faculty being hired. Having a group of neuroscientists with differing expertise will allow us to utilize a multi-pronged and interdisciplinary approach to address common themes in neurodegeneration and aging, neuroplasticity, and chronic pain; thereby bridging present research in function and development of the nervous system to dysfunction leading to human neuropathology.  Prion diseases are a prototypic protein misfolding disease and they share many molecular and pathological features with the more frequent human neurodegenerative disorders, e.g. Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD) and Huntington's disease (HD). New collaborative projects are identified that will utilize model systems that enable us to bridge between protein misfolding pathways and the downstream functional effects on neuronal activity and brain circuits, and common ways for therapeutic intervention.

The Specific Aims of the P30 Transitional Center grant are:

  • to increase the effectiveness and productivity of current NIH-funded research projects,
  • to foster collaborative new projects among the Center investigators that address Grand Challenges in the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience,
  • to provide support for the Microscopy Core facility that is essential to the Neuroscience Center investigators and other biomedical researchers at UW.


 RELEVANCE: The Neuroscience Center research will provide the structure to develop collaborations that address the Grand Challenges identified in the NIH Blueprint: neural connectivity of the brain and chronic pain. Investigators will also address common themes in Alzheimer's, Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases to delineate common pathomechanisms and therapeutic interventions.

The Neuroscience Center

is funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH) Centers Programs grant P30 GM 103398-RR32128 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). The grant supports Core research facilities, such as the Microscopy Core, graduate training, and neuroscience research projects. The Neuroscience Center provides the structure and funding for building innovative and productive collaborations that address major biomedical issues related to such topics as the mechanisms of synaptic plasticity, neurodegeneration, addiction, and chronic pain.

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