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Internationally, neuroscience is an expanding field of study, and that trend is reflected in Delaware—not only at UD, but also throughout the state's scientific community.
Now, a five-year, $10.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health is funding a new Delaware Center for Neuroscience Research that will facilitate collaborations between researchers at UD and their counterparts at Delaware State University (DSU). The center, a partnership between the two universities that is located at DSU, the lead institution, has been established to conduct cutting-edge scientific research on brain development and the neurobiology of learning.
While UD's neuroscience program has a behavioral focus and is housed in the Department of Psychology, and DSU's has a biological focus, the field itself is highly interdisciplinary, says Jeffrey B. Rosen, professor of psychology at UD. As co-administrator of the center, he works closely with Melissa Harrington, the center's director at DSU.
"Neuroscience is a growing field, and it encompasses so many different fields—from engineering to kinesiology and physical therapy—in addition to psychology and biology," Rosen says. "In our psychol-ogy department, we've hired several neuroscience faculty members in the last couple of years, and our undergraduate program is very successful and popular."
The grant for the new center is geared to funding early career scientists. It will provide support for the research programs of five such scientists, three at UD and two at DSU.
Four other faculty members will receive smaller, pilot grants to begin new research projects or take their current work in new directions. Recipients of those pilot grants are involved in such areas as infant verb learning and the role of microRNA in new neuron development.
Researchers at the two universities say they've been collaborating informally for some time but that the new center and funding will greatly enhance those partnerships. Of the total grant, DSU will receive $7.3 million and UD $3.2 million.
"This will have an impact on my lab because it will mean more funding for my research and, as a junior faculty member, I'll be able to receive mentoring support," says Amy Griffin, assistant professor of psychology. She and fellow psychology professors Anna Klintsova and Tania Roth all received funding for their research through the new center.
"Beyond that, we have a community now that we're building with Delaware State and the neuroscientists there. It's very exciting for faculty and for our students," Griffin says.
Plans call for students from both institutions to have the opportunity to do some work at the other university. Rosen says he expects the center to be useful in recruiting graduate students as well.
Funding came from the National Institutes of Health Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) program, which supports interdisci-plinary centers that strengthen institutions' research.