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UW Sensory Biology COBRE


Wyoming Sensory Biology Center (SBC), is a phase I (P20) Center of Biomedical Research Excellence program (COBRE) funded by National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of National Institutes of Health (NIH). As part of the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program, NIGMS provides approximately $10 Million research funding over five years (2017 to 2022) to the University of Wyoming to support research activities associated with SBC.

SBC Organization. Dr. Qian-Quan Sun, professor of Zoology and Physiology, and UW Neuroscience Program, is the principle investigator (PI) and director of the SBC. The SBC is comprised of Administration Core (AC), Integrated Microscopy Core (IMcore) and four interrelated research projects. As a whole, the SBC will support four new junior investigators and four future faculty hires that are committed to the SBC, during the five years of the COBRE funding.


The primary mission of the SBC is to foster and conduct high-quality scientific research that advances the understanding of our sensory systems and disorders related to them. A major role of the center is to support and mentor the development of junior investigators of sensory system function and dysfunction.
The five-year goals of the SBC are:
  1. Establish a multi-disciplinary Center that brings together investigators with expertise in diverse areas of sensory neuroscience and experimental methodology, and fosters collaborations to address key issues in sensory system function and dysfunction.
  2. Support projects of junior investigators by providing strong mentoring and guidance to help them obtain independent funding and professional success. In addition to research, investigators will be mentored on other metrics that are evaluated in Tenure and Promotion.
  3. Grow the SBC in both size and scope through the recruitment of new faculty, and fostering multi-disciplinary research among current UW faculty, respectively.
  4. Build the required research infrastructure by expanding the Microscopy Core Facility.
  5. Advance our understanding of the development and function of sensory systems and their dysfunctions.

Why Sensory Biology?

Our sensory systems enable us to process stimuli within the world around us. Disruptions in sensory processing and integration may underlie visual learning disorders, chronic pain, obesity, and inappropriate, non-social behaviors (Ayres 1977; Jasinska, Stein et al. 2013; Mifflin and Kerr 2013). It is estimated that more than 46 million people in the United States suffer from impaired sensory systems (from the NIH/NIDCD website). Inability to conduct normal cognitive tasks is responsible for the core symptoms in mental and psychiatric diseases such as depression and schizophrenia. Cognitive activity roots in perceptions. All sensory modalities are coupled with brain regions that are involved in mental and psychiatric disorders, and most are intimately related to the affective and higher order functions that these regions subserve. Sensory system may therefore be ideal windows into the structural and functional integrity of the neural mechanisms that underlie psychiatric disease-related cognitive and emotional problems. The Sensory Biology COBRE (SBC) will address basic and translational research questions that are tied to the functional organization, development, and motor-integration of sensory systems that underlie adaptive behaviors and help elucidate the causes of maladaptive behaviors (e.g. pain and epilepsy).
Contact Us

Dr. Qian-Quan Sun, SBC Director, Professor

Department of Zoology and Physiology

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-5602



1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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