Delaware Center for Neuroscience Research










NIGMS funds phase II of the Delaware Center for Neuroscience Research

        The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Delaware State University's Delaware Center for Neuroscience Research the largest grant in the University's history, $10.9 million over five years. This grant from the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) program at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) will allow the Delaware Center for Neuroscience Research to build on successes achieved under the original $10.5 million received for Phase I in 2012.

         The Delaware Center for Neuroscience Research is an interdisciplinary, inter-institutional, virtual Center linking Delaware State University and the University of Delaware. The goal of the Center is to create infrastructure to support the research and career development of neuroscientists in Delaware. Under the direction of Dr. Melissa A. Harrington at Delaware State University and Dr. Jeffrey Rosen at the University of Delaware (UD), the Center brings together a multidisciplinary group of neuroscientists with research related to neural development and neuronal degeneration. The overarching goal of the Neuroscience Center is to bring together and support neuroscientists working at multiple scales, from human subjects to rodent and invertebrate models, to improve our understanding of the dynamic function of the brain.


         The phase I award supported the research projects of 13 investigators (6 at UD and 7 at DSU) by providing significant funds for their research, release time from teaching and administrative responsibilities, and opportunities for professional development. The funding also supported renovation of a facility on the DSU campus to house laboratory mice. Outcomes from phase one include the publication of 85 journal articles by Center-affiliated faculty (as of 11/2017) and award of over $9 million of additional grants to support research and education programs led by Center-affiliated faculty.



Phase II of the Neuroscience Center is focused on developing Delaware's capabilities in advanced brain imaging. It will support researchers who use non-invasive imaging techniques to measure brain function in living subjects – both in humans and laboratory animals. Researchers in Phase II are working to understand the causes of neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, how the brain is changed by traumatic stress, and understanding why people engage in impulsive and self-destructive behavior.
         UD is putting in significant resources for Phase II. The COBRE grant is providing $500,000 in funding toward the cost for a 9.4T, small bore MRI system for imaging the brains of small laboratory animals (mice and rats), while UD is putting in about $1.6 million toward the total cost of $2.1 million for the total cost of purchase and installation of the instrumentation. The Phase II grant will also support hiring of new faculty researchers with expertise and research that relies on brain imaging. One new faculty member will be recruited at UD and two new faculty members at DSU.

The Delaware Center for Neuroscience Research has three main goals:
1)  To strengthen the research infrastructure and capacity in Delaware by fully developing the Center for Biomedical and Brain Imaging to include instrumentation and expertise for small animal MRI.
2)  To further develop the interdisciplinary, inter-institutional Delaware Center for Neuroscience Research supporting a scientific community focused on investigating the dynamic structure-function relationships in the brain.
3)  To involve a new group of investigators in the Center's integrated mentoring and professional development program that helps junior faculty become independent, externally-funded researchers.

         Our Center supports basic and translational research aimed at determining how the dynamic structures of the brain lead to functions that determine thoughts, feelings, memories and actions and how those structures and functions change with experience and over the lifespan. Our Phase II grant will support a group of Project Leaders and pilot investigators who work at different scales (human subjects versus rodent models) and are integrating non-invasive neuroimaging into their research. The structure of the Center will ensure that COBRE-supported investigators are successful in developing their research program and advancing in their careers, while also interacting with other investigators to develop new lines of research and multi-investigator projects.