Neuroscience Initiative Seed Grants Exemplify Translational Neuroscience
NSI Seed Grant Symposium
May 7, 2019 12:00 PM
The annual Neuroscience Initiative Seed Grant Symposium provides an opportunity for seed grant recipients to share their most recent findings with the University of Utah neuroscience community. Seed grants of $50,000 are awarded each year to collaborative groups of researchers from diverse departments and colleges across the university with the goal of facilitating the growth of new and innovative science. Five seed grants were awarded in 2019, covering a broad spectrum of neuroscience topics and model systems.
This year at our Spring Symposium the neuroscience community received an update on the progress of our most recently funded projects. Dr. Sophie Carron, a fly geneticist from the Department of Biology, detailed the role of Arc capsids, a retroviral like transmission of the gene Arc which is known to be important for learning & memory. By elucidating the activity of this important gene in a simple model system we will be able to significantly enhance our understanding of memory formation on a molecular level. Dr. Mark Mahan, from the Department of Neurosurgery, discussed the pattern of immune cell infiltration into the nervous system following nerve injury. By using a new method for generating nerve injury Dr. Mahan aims to better model the immune systems response to traumatic nerve injury in humans. Understanding how these immune cells behave following injury can guide future clinical practice and potentially lead to improved patient outcomes following traumatic events. Dr. Michelle Schober, from the Department of Pediatrics, presented her work on developing a porcine model of pediatric traumatic brain injury. Once the model is established, Dr. Schober will investigate how Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) modulates the immune systems response to injury in the immature brain, opening to possibility for new therapeutic interventions for children that experience head trauma. From the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Dr. Candace Floyd presented work modeling surgical techniques for deep brain stimulation electrode placement in porcine models of spinal cord injury. These studies could provide foundational data on which surgical strategies to recover walking behavior following spinal cord injury in humans can be built. Finally, Dr. Matthew Alexander along with collaborators in Radiology & Neurosurgery demonstrated the clinical potential of MRI-guided focused ultrasound for neurological disorders including hydrocephalus, epilepsy, and diagnostic elastography. Together these projects exemplify the scope of neuroscience research at the University of Utah from basic model organisms to clinical tool development. As a collective the knowledge gained through this work will advance both our understanding of the nervous system and our ability to effectively treat neurological disorders in human patients.