The Johns Hopkins Brain Sciences Institute has funded a total of $5 million to 12 different research groups at Hopkins to launch the new Synapses, Circuits and Cognitive Disorders Program.
The new program aims to understand the fundamentals of brain function by focusing on the synapse—the point of contact between two nerve cells—to better understand cognitive disorders.
“Major advances have been made in our understanding of synaptic transmission and plasticity, and recent studies have indicated that the disruption of synaptic function underlies many cognitive disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and autism,” said Jack Griffin, M.D., director of the Brain Science Institute, in a release. “At Hopkins we plan to push this research beyond its current limits to aggressively get at the heart of these debilitating and devastating illnesses.”
Grants were given to projects that aim to study the following: how synapses and neuronal circuits develop; how synapses and neurons adapt and change in response to normal learning and use, disease, and injury; the use of model organisms like mice and flies to test therapeutics for Alzheimer's and aging; autism spectrum disorders by doing large-scale, genome-wide genetic analysis; and, what the DISC1 gene does in tissues affected by schizophrenia.