UR brain researchers get $15 million

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A $15 million federal grant will help researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center and elsewhere study the brain’s complex mechanisms.

Ten years ago, Maiken Nedergaard M.D.’s lab at URMC worked on how the brain removes waste, leading to the discovery of the glymphatic system. It changed the way scientists examined neurological disorders and critical brain functions, officials say. The glymphatic system efficiently eliminates soluble proteins and metabolites from the central nervous system.

The new grant from the National Institutes of Health will coalesce teams of researchers to study the mechanics that control the glymphatic system, with an eye toward the development of new therapies for diseases like Alzheimer’s, officials say.

Nedergaard, co-director of URMC’s Center of Translational Neuromedicine, will lead the effort that involves scientists and engineers from the University of Rochester, Penn State University, Boston University and the University of Copenhagen. It is funded by NIH’s BRAIN Initiative.

The new research program seeks to develop a detailed, mechanistic understanding of the movement of cerebrospinal fluid across sleep and wakefulness, and the neural processes that control it, URMC says.

The projects under the program include work on:

■ Fluid dynamics computer simulations to show how changes in blood vessels and neural activity drive the flow of CSF into and out of the brain. Douglas Kelley, with the University of Rochester Department of Mechanical Engineering, and his team will build these simulations.

■ Patterns of neuronal signaling and activity, support cells called astrocytes, and the smooth muscle cells that control blood flow in the brain and how they combine to switch the glymphatic system on and off. Nedergaard’s lab will examine these patterns.

■ Brain rhythms and their control of arterial dilation and contraction during different stages of sleep. Patrick Drew at Penn State University School of Engineering will lead the project.

■ Integration of multiple magnetic resonance imaging technologies to observe the flow of CSF in the human brain. Laura Lewis, at Boston University’s Center for Neuroscience Systems, will combine this information with measures of brain activity.

■ New tools that enable the observation of CSF movement in the brain non-invasively and at a finer level of detail. A team of researchers at the University of Copenhagen led by Hajome Hirasi will develop these tools.

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name.

One thought on “UR brain researchers get $15 million

  1. ….and my usual response,….will Rochester’s youth be part of that project? Will the research that is required include Rochester’s City School District graduates? Not if they don’t graduate from high school. Maybe that brain research will allow the U of R discover a way to teach the way kids learn in the RCSD. Maybe the University of Rochester will discover a way to include the RCSD graduates in their brain research. It’s tiring, exhausting, but hopefully the powers to be will figure out a way to motivate those in charge of the RCSD system. Money is being injected into Rochester/Monroe County education by the millions. Give the kids in the inner city a chance to participate in those efforts. Educate them with a relevant education so they to can attend college and become contributors to society.

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