A large number of NGP training faculty have research programs that focus on gaining a mechanistic understanding of the development of brain architecture and molecular networks that are essential for the maturation of brain functions such as cognition, sensory information processing, emotional regulation and social communication. Investigators often link their studies to the developmental basis of brain disorders and diseases in children and those with adult onset. Molecular and functional studies in aging and injury models are performed to identify new targets for therapeutic treatments to reverse degeneration conditions in the nervous system.
Specific areas of interest include the mechanisms by which different neural cell types assume their identity from stem cells, how they form connections within appropriate circuits, and the influence of genes and environment on these developmental processes. Members of our training faculty also are examining the role of molecular and cellular cues in the dynamic and complex environment of the nervous system in both the guidance and branching of axons and the subsequent formation, maturation and elimination of synapses. There is particular interest in the role of glia during development, both in synaptic maintenance and the formation of myelin that insulates axons. An additional area of strength is in the examination of the foundation of behavior in animal models and in humans. Researchers are actively investigating the cellular mechanisms underlying activity-dependent synaptic plasticity, which is thought to underlie many forms of learning and memory and social-emotional behavior. Other research into the development of circuits and the neural substrates of behavior examines the role of neurotransmitters as non-synaptic signaling molecular in development, the fetal-placental-maternal interface in influencing the development and maturation of brain function, the role of non-coding elements of the genome and specific classes of proteins in controlling the temporal and spatial expression of genes, control by growth factor receptor signaling on neuronal morphology, survival and communication through synapses.
Finally, the interface between neuroscience and engineering is no more apparent than in the collaborations of our training faculty who are investigating how to repair the nervous function after it is damaged following due to atypical development or disease. Ongoing work in bioengineering and neuroscience includes are large number of laboratories that have developed neural prosthetics to enhance damaged visual, motor and learning and memory systems.
Theodore W. Berger
Mark S. Humayan
Thomas H. McNeill
Armand R. Tanguay Jr.