Neuroscience retreat provides forum for new connections and exchange of ideas
9:37 a.m., May 2, 2012--The field of neuroscience is complex and demands that researchers from a broad range of fields work together to address such questions as how nerve cells function, how drugs affect the brain and how the brain controls behavior.
On Friday, April 27, the Delaware Neuroscience Retreat brought together some 70 researchers and clinicians from Delaware State University, Nemours/A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children and the University of Delaware for a series of rapid-fire talks designed to highlight research in this field and open the door for increased collaboration.
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Organized by Deni Galileo, professor in UD’s Department of Biological Sciences, and a small group of other neuroscientists, the retreat attracted researchers representing the full range of disciplines comprising neuroscience, including molecular biology, psychology, engineering, linguistics and genomics.
Each of the 20 presenting researchers had five minutes to summarize his or her research in three slides: interests and projects, interesting highlights and collaborations. The presentations addressed topics from the molecular mechanisms that regulate brain tumors to anxiety disorders, visual attention, language perception and materials for engineered biomedical devices.
To further promote collaboration and foster sharing of resources, the speakers provided lists of what they could offer in terms of equipment and expertise as well as what they could use from others, with wish lists ranging from imaging capabilities and tissue engineering strategies to access to patients with various diseases and disorders.
In welcoming the group to the retreat, UD provost Tom Apple referred to neuroscience as “a discipline with a future in Delaware.”
He went on to talk about an agreement between UD and DSU that enables reciprocity in neuroscience graduate courses. “With DSU’s new doctoral program in neuroscience and UD’s graduate courses in neuroscience and Ph.D. program in behavioral neuroscience, this partnership ensures academic excellence and continued leadership in research,” he said.
Alton Thompson, provost at DSU, said that his institution’s neuroscience doctoral program was made possible only through collaboration. “DSU’s expertise at the molecular level and UD’s at the behavioral level are complementary and mutually integrated,” he said.
“There’s no way we could afford to do this program without UD and Nemours,” he added. “With this partnership, we have access to all the great minds in the state.”
Vicky Funanage, director of biomedical research at Nemours/A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children, pointed to the phenomenal opportunities open to academic and clinical researchers working in this area. “Every institution here is ready to take the next step and put Delaware on the map as a leader in biomedical research and education,” she said.
Galileo said he was pleased at the outcome of the retreat.
“The goals of the organizing committee were to bring together Delaware neuroscientists, provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and identify potential new collaborations,” he said. “I think our goals were met. The retreat was attended by many neuroscientists from the three Delaware institutions, we now are much more familiar with the broad range of neuroscience that occurs in Delaware, and many exciting discussions took place. Some of these discussions undoubtedly will continue as explorations into new collaborations.”
In addition to the technical talks, more than 20 other projects were highlighted by students and postdoctoral researchers in a poster session at the end of the day.
The retreat was sponsored by the Delaware Biotechnology Institute and held at the Buena Vista Conference Center in New Castle, Del.
Article by Diane Kukich
Photos by Lane McLaughlin and Deni Galileo