Neuroscience represents one of the most fascinating and complex research areas. In terms of basic sciences, Neuroscience is one of the last remaining major frontiers in science. Clinically, neurodegenerative diseases represent a major frontier in that these diseases are among the most devastating and intractable of diseases.
Neurodevelopment and neurosignaling: A central question in Neuroscience relates to how the genome and experience interact to generate a structure as complex as the brain. Another major question is how the molecular and cellular structure of the brain underlies brain function and brain dysfunction. For example, in a variety of brain and psychiatric disorders (e.g., epilepsy, ischemia, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia), specific neurotransmitter signaling systems appear to be dysfunctional. Neuroscientists at UNMC use a variety of genetic, electrophysiological, anatomical, molecular, and biochemical techniques to understand these questions.
- The role of cell signaling pathways in brain development
- Molecular mechanisms underlying autism, schizophrenia and intellectual disability
- Regulator mechanisms of synapse formation and synapse removal
- Regulation of neural stem cells
- Molecular mechanisms of neurotransmitter release
- Glial cell regulation of neuronal activity
- Functional brain imaging in neuropsychiatric disorders
- Mechanisms of neuronal migration and positioning
- Genetic basis of language and attention disorders
Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience: Researchers at UNMC interested in cognition and behavior use behavioral, functional brain imaging, and electrophysiological techniques to examine brain dysfunction in disease.
- The role of the immune system in behavior and brain aging
- Functional brain imaging of neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders in humans
- Motor performance and rehabilitative outcomes of children with cerebal palsy and adults with multiple sclerosis
- Electroencephalography in rodents models of neuropsychiatric/neurological disorders
- Molecular and cellular mechanisms of epilepsy
Biology of Neurological Disorders: Many researchers at UNMC focus on the role of the immune system in neurological diseases and in neural complications of AIDS infection. Inflammation is a major mechanism in which the brain responds to a variety of injuries. Whether it be AIDS, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease (AD), traumatic brain injury or Juvenile Batten Disease neurons are not always directly destroyed by the insult. Disease can occur indirectly through glia cells by setting off a chain of biochemical events that produce toxins and inflammation that can compromise neuronal cell signaling and ultimately destroy neurons. Substance abuse can interact with the immune system and other cellular components to worsen neurological and neuroinfectious diseases. UNMC researchers use a wide diversity of techniques and experimental approaches to solve these questions.
- Development of nanoparticle therapeutics for treating AIDS
- Characterization of cytokines and chemokines signaling pathways responsible for neuronal damage and neuronal protection
- Identification of disease biomarkers in neurological diseases
- Role of micro RNA in neurological diseases
- Role of exosomes in neurological diseases
- The role of macrophages in AIDS dementia
- The role of the immune system in Parkinson's disease
- Functional imaging of neuronal dysfunction in neurological disease
- CNS dysregulation of the cardiovascular system in disease
- Use of "humanized" mice (containing human immune cells and other human cells) for the study of neurological disease
- Role of neurotransmitter receptors and potassium channels in AIDS dementia
- Study of the mechanisms by which substance abuse (cocaine, methamphetamine, etc.) worsen neurological outcomes
- Neuron-glia cross-talk in Juvenile Batten disease
- Brain imaging in disease
Autonomic Neuroscience: The CNS regulates the function of the other systems of the body largely through the autonomic nervous system. In various conditions such as Parkinson's, diabetes, heart failure, hyopertension and stress, CNS adaptations contribute to the pathophysiology of the disease state. Work at UNMC is focused on understanding these mechanisms so that effective therapeutic interventions can be identified.
- The role of the CNS in cardiovascular disease (hypertension and heart failure)
- CNS dysregulation in renal disease
- Redox modulation in CNS control of cardiovascular disease
- CNS dysfunction in metabolic disorders
- Optogenetic modulation of hypothalamic neuronal function