Channels, Synapses and Neural Circuits
Channels, synapses, and neural circuits are fundamental structural and functional elements of the nervous system. Detailed
and integrated knowledge of these elements is essential for understanding how the nervous system works under normal and abnormal
conditions. In recent years, remarkable progress and exciting discoveries have been made in the basic research in these areas;
only few of them, however, have been directly connected to mechanisms underlying the causes of numerous neurological disorders.
The major goals of our program are 1) to continue to support the ongoing basic and clinical research; 2) to foster research
on particular channels, synapses, and neural circuits that have immediate medical relevance; and 3) encourage translational
research that links the discoveries from basic research into medication development and therapeutic interventions for treating
neurological disorders, such as epilepsy.
Neurological disorders may result when extra-neuronal cells are compromised, as in demyelinating and cerebrovascular diseases;
when extra-neuronal cells themselves become aggressors, as in inflammatory responses within the nervous system, when viruses,
bacteria, or parasites infect the cells of the nervous system, when autoimmune responses damage nerve and muscle; when cells
of the blood-brain barrier are dysfunctional, or when glial dysfunction in the developing nervous system results in developmental
abnormalities. Glial cells, microvascular endothelia, and cells of hematopoetic origin are integrally involved in the normal
development and/or functioning of the nervous system and play a crucial role in disease. Emerging concepts on the interaction
among all of these cells hold great promise for increasing our understanding of how the nervous system works in normal and
diseased states, and will broaden our perspective on how we think about the nervous system.
The Neural Environment cluster promotes translating scientific knowledge into useful diagnostic tools, research on the implementation
of preventive measures, and development and delivery of targeted therapeutic agents for neurological diseases.
Neuronal cell death, how protein aggregation damages neurons, and the interaction of genes and the environment in the etiology
of neurodegenerative diseases.
Includes identifying the genes that cause neurological disorders. Includes collecting family data and applying molecular genetic
methodologies for gene identification. Investigating the molecular mechanisms through which disease genes act. Includes using
animal models and in vitro techniques for studying pathways of gene function. Developing gene-based therapeutics for neurological
disorders. Includes gene therapy and pharmaceuticals targeted to specific gene products. Investigating the genetic basis of
normal neural development and function. Includes genetically-based studies of neuronal patterning, migration, connectivity,
and cognitive/behavioral function. Developing resources for neurogenetic research. Includes tissue and information registries,
atlases of gene expression and function, and mutagenesis and phenotyping methodologies.
Office of Clinical Research
Scientific initiatives that stimulate translation of ideas from basic animal research to testing the safety and early indications
of efficacy through phases I and II clinical trials, epidemiological studies of the natural history and early markers of neurological
disorders and stroke, to elucidate the causative path leading to the disorders and to stimulate the search for new treatments
and prevention strategies.Information on Clinical Research at NINDS
Office Of International Activities
The Mission of the Office of International Activities (OIA) at NINDS is to identify significant global health issues, to seek
opportunities, and to develop creative approaches promoting international research, training, and collaborations in neuroscience
that are relevant to the Institute's mission.
Office of Minority Health and Research
The Office of Minority Health and Research plans, coordinates and directs research and research training programs to attract,
retain and develop future minority neuroscience health and research professionals. The office also develops and implements
long-term strategies to reduce the disease disparity of populations that are historically at increased risk for diseases and
disorders of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nervous system.
Office of Training and Career Development
Office of Translational Research
Includes preclinical therapeutics development, technologies for gene expression and proteomics analysis, imaging and informatics,
data and resource sharing, and small business innovation programs.
Repair and Plasticity
Includes spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, recovery of function, plasticity of the nervous system, neural circuits
that underlie specific behaviors, repair of the nervous system in injury and disease, stem cell biology, neural prostheses,
neuroengineering and other means of repairing the nervous system in injury and disease.
Systems and Cognitive Neuroscience
The Systems and Cognitive Neuroscience cluster supports research focused on higher brain functions that underlie complex behavioral
phenomena such as learning, memory, attention, language, cognition, emotion, movement, the wakefulness-sleep cycle, response
to pain, and feeding. These phenomena depend on the integrated functioning of neural circuits and systems. Funded research
involves human or animal subjects and employs advanced methods of neuroscience which are used to measure brain structure and
function as well as neural activity associated with specific cognitive and behavioral processes.