UVA launches interdisciplinary effort focused on neuroscience
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A new interdisciplinary effort is going to dig into how the human brain works.
The University of Virginia recently announced that it will invest more than $75 million into this effort, which will also aim to pioneer major advances in neuroscience.
According to a release, this is one of the Grand Challenge Research Initiatives, which are part of the university’s 2030 “Great and Good” Plan.
This one will help scientists better understand neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and autism.
“We are making these investments with the clear intention to see results that we can scale up and share widely for the public good,” said Provost Ian Baucom. “That is a crucial expression of our mission as a public research university, and of the 2030 Plan’s emphasis on being great and good.”
The release says there will be several parts to this Grand Challenge, including multiple initial studies.
One will look into why caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients are more likely to develop dementia themselves compared to their peers who do not serve as caregivers.
Another will look at the capacity for focused ultrasound to help deliver immunological therapies through the blood-brain barrier.
A third project will work to catalog neurodiversity among the various forms of autism in order to develop enhanced interventions and education approaches for people beginning in early childhood.
Fourth, a study will be looking at deploying multiple technologies in order to better understand the brain’s overall development and circuitry.
Sarah Kucenas, a professor of biology and the director of the Program in Fundamental Neuroscience, says the Grand Challenges specifically aim to encourage interdisciplinary connections.
In this instance, the project will involve students and staff from the schools of Medicine, Engineering, Arts and Sciences, Nursing, Data Science, Leadership and Public Policy, and Education and Human Development.
Additionally, UVA is planning more than 20 strategic faculty hires to help with the research as well as initiating the Next Generation Scholars program that will recruit and train 15 post-doctoral researchers.
Another recently announced Grand Challenge will be focused on climate change and environmental resilience.
In total, UVA has identified five priorities for these research initiatives, including democracy, environmental resilience and sustainability, precision medicine and health, digital technology and society, and brain and neuroscience.
The release says the challenges began a year ago, with the first $100 million investment that created the Karsh Institute of Democracy.