University receives neuroscience research grant

The grant encourages different neuroscience institutions to collaborate.

Emily Banks

With the help of a $7.9 million grant, neuroscience researchers can now get more time with the University’s coveted magnetic resonance equipment.

Last month, the National Institutes of Health chose the University’s Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) to receive the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research grant over the next five years. Fifteen institutes and centers in the NIH collaborated to form the grant in 2004.

CMRR Director Kamil Ugurbil said the medical school’s investments, in the form of new equipment and faculty, have yielded a fantastic return.

“A judicious investment in research can have significant payoffs, both financially and academically,” Ugurbil said.

The grant intends to increase neuroscience research by providing scientists from a variety of institutions with access to centralized resources and equipment.

Thomas Miller, program director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, said neuroscience institutions tend to have different focuses.

“The idea of this program was to create centers that would support work that would be interdisciplinary,” Miller said.

The grant encourages different neuroscience institutions and disciplines to meet, form new collaborations, explore new directions and find common interests, tools and approaches, Miller said.

The partnership between the University and Mayo Clinic is one example of the kind of collaboration the grant encourages.

“One of the aims of this grant is to open the kind of methodology and technology that we develop here at the CMRR to a much larger community of investigators at the University and Ö at Mayo Clinic,” Ugurbil said.

CMRR develops techniques based on magnetic resonance – technology used in MRI – to investigate biomedical problems and diagnostic capabilities. These techniques can then be applied to basic research in biology and medicine as well as clinical medicine, Ugerbil said.

Jeff Wozniak, an associate psychologist at the University, uses the center’s resources to study the brain functions of children and adolescents, specifically brain injuries and fetal alcohol syndrome.

“The grant will improve the ability of researchers at the University to access state-of-the-art imaging technology that’s already here at the University,” Wozniak said. “I think it will continue to provide researchers here with the latest technology in imaging.”