USC neuroscientists awarded $9 million to map gene expression during human brain development

Oct 02, 2009

Two University of Southern California (USC) neuroscientists have been awarded nearly $9 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to map how genes are expressed in different regions of the human brain throughout development.

The two-year grant, part of the Grand Opportunities grant program, funded through the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), will allow researchers to use cutting-edge DNA sequencing and profiling technologies to create an atlas of when and where thousands of genes are expressed during key periods of development. The findings will be freely accessible to scientists worldwide and provide a foundation for discovering the origins of mental disorders.

James A. Knowles, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and Pat Levitt, Ph.D., director of the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute at the Keck School of Medicine, will lead the project in collaboration with researchers at Yale University and the Allen Institute for Science in Seattle, Wash.

"This project will allow us to document which individual genes and sets of genes are turned on and off in different brain regions through the whole developmental time period," said Knowles, the principal investigator on the project. "This information is essential for understanding normal and abnormal brain development."

Mental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia are increasingly recognized as that have their origins during development. However, relatively little is currently known about how specific regulate human , Knowles noted.

"Breaking through the mysteries of the developing human brain and the origins of mental illnesses requires a very large, collaborative effort," co-principal investigator Levitt said. "We are so pleased to be part of an esteemed group of scientists that will produce more information on the human brain than ever before. This will lead to new breakthroughs in determining disease risk and prevention."

Researchers at USC and partner institutions will sequence the genomes from hundreds of brain samples in order to create a three-dimensional, Web-based model that can be used by scientists all over the world as a basis for future neuroscience research.

"This will provide investigators with a fantastically rich resource for future research," Knowles said.

Source: University of Southern California (news : web)

Explore further: Abnormal brain rhythms tied to problems with thinking in schizophrenia

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How schizophrenia develops: Major clues discovered

Oct 16, 2007

Schizophrenia may occur, in part, because of a problem in an intermittent on/off switch for a gene involved in making a key chemical messenger in the brain, scientists have found in a study of human brain tissue. The researchers ...

Brain scientists spot nature/nurture gene link

Jul 16, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Neuroscientists at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory found that a previously unsuspected set of genes links nature and nurture during a crucial period of brain development.

Active genes discovered in the developing mammal brain

Jul 13, 2009

A study by scientists at Penn State provides new information about the genes that are involved in a mammal's early brain development, including those that contribute to neurological disorders. The study is ...

The beginnings of the thinking brain

Jun 28, 2006

Oxford researchers have identified the very first neurons in the human cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that sets us apart from all other animals.

Recommended for you

The brain treats real and imaginary objects in the same way

2 hours ago

The human brain can select relevant objects from a flood of information and edit out what is irrelevant. It also knows which parts belong to a whole. If, for example, we direct our attention to the doors of a house, the brain ...

Research suggests brain's melatonin may trigger sleep

4 hours ago

If you walk into your local drug store and ask for a supplement to help you sleep, you might be directed to a bottle labeled "melatonin." The hormone supplement's use as a sleep aid is supported by anecdotal ...

New understanding of stroke damage may aid recovery

4 hours ago

Stroke can lead to a wide range of problems such as depression and difficulty moving, speaking and paying attention. Scientists have thought these issues were caused by damage to the brain's "computer processors"—cells ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.