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New center to focus on neuroscience and brain disorders

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2006 - Spring


The School of Medicine has launched a new interdepartmental program, Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration and Repair (CNNR), to be led by Pietro de Camilli, M.D., FW ’79, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Cell Biology, and Stephen M. Strittmatter, M.D., Ph.D., the Vincent Coates Professor of Neurology and professor of neurobiology.

The CNNR will build on Yale’s tradition of excellence in the neurosciences through the departments of neurobiology, molecular and cellular physiology, pharmacology, cell biology, psychiatry, neurosurgery, neurology and others, and the Child Study Center. Its goal is to foster cutting-edge basic research in cellular and molecular neuroscience, promote research on neurodegeneration and repair, translate scientific insights into therapeutic strategies to prevent or delay neuronal loss, and facilitate neural repair and restoration of function. This interdisciplinary program could have a significant impact on diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and multiple sclerosis, as well as diseases related to polyglutamine expansion, such as Huntington’s.

De Camilli’s pioneering work on synaptic vesicles, the intracellular packets that deliver neurotransmitters into the synapse, could advance the understanding of brain function, as well as the causes of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other diseases.

Strittmatter’s identification of Nogo, a protein that blocks the regeneration of axons, has opened promising avenues in the search for therapies to repair the adult nervous system after injury, and has given new hope to those who suffer from spinal cord injuries, stroke and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

De Camilli and Strittmatter, who will retain their appointments in cell biology and neurology, respectively, will recruit up to seven new scientists for the CNNR. The searches will be carried out in collaboration with colleagues in the basic-science and clinical departments who work in the neurosciences, and the new recruits will have primary appointments in existing departments. In addition, the CNNR will provide a scientific home for more than 100 neuroscientists who now work across the Yale campus, sparking greater interactions and enhancing the scientific environment.

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