State-of-the-art brain disorders research lab opens
VUMC has opened a “next-generation” laboratory devoted to advancing the understanding and treatment of diverse brain disorders including autism, ADHD, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The Vanderbilt Laboratory for Neurobehavior, which officially opens on Thursday, Jan. 15, allows scientists to make clear the complex roles of genes, as well as the impact of drugs, in how the brain supports learning, memory, attention, emotion and social behavior.
“Through the careful evaluation of mouse and rat behavior, we hope to achieve a more sophisticated understanding of how genes and environment interact to establish normal behavior as well as impart risk to common brain diseases,” said Randy Blakely, Ph.D., Allan D. Bass Professor of Pharmacology and Psychiatry and director of the Vanderbilt Center for Molecular Neuroscience, which oversees the new research facility.
Supported by the Center for Molecular Neuroscience, the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, and the National Institutes of Health, the 9,000-square-foot lab dwarfs by many fold the prior space dedicated to neurobehavioral research in animal models at Vanderbilt.
“The Laboratory for Neurobehavior represents a truly significant addition to our research infrastructure,” said Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D., interim director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and professor of Psychology. “The lab design and equipment, which includes powerful video software, will enable sophisticated studies of rodent social behavior not previously possible.”
“This testing facility is really the next piece in the genome project, one that allows us to see how genetic differences lead to altered behavior and drug responses,” Blakely added. “We first identified brain genes and then learned how to manipulate and study them in animal models. Those efforts took us a long way, but without a facility like this one, with its highly controlled environment and sophisticated testing equipment, the impact of our efforts for human disease could not be realized.”
Contact: Bill Snyder, (615) 322-4747