Research in NIDCD mission areas is expanding at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). Since 2005, UCI has sponsored interactions and interdisciplinary collaborations among a group of over 20 faculty who comprise the Center for Hearing Research (CHR). The potential for interdisciplinary work is substantial, with faculty spanning 11 Departments in 5 Schools at UCI performing research in NIDCD mission areas. For these investigators, CHR has established a UC Irvine Core Center for Hearing and Communication Research to: 1) facilitate ongoing research by consolidating resources and providing access to state-of-the-art technology, 2) promote interdisciplinary work by educating users about Core facilities and providing expert assistance, and 3) recruit investigators from diverse backgrounds to research in NIDCD mission areas. There are two Core facilities: 1) The Imaging Core provides a 2-photon imaging system for visualizing neurons and real-time neural activity in live, including in vivo, or fixed, tissue. The system enables new kinds of Experiments, e.g., examining activity simultaneously in many neurons, or over time during development. An imaging specialist facilitates the integration of this technology into existing research programs and among users from multiple disciplines. 2) The Computing and Engineering Core provides signal processing and electronic systems support for physiological and behavior research. The Development of common signal processing algorithms will promote interdisciplinary collaborations (e.g., between physiological and behavioral projects) and facilitate data sharing. Core personnel conduct a lecture series to familiarize new researchers with the engineering technologies used in core users'laboratories. The two Cores interact with each other extensively, and with other P30 cores regionally and nationally. These shared facilities enhance ongoing research at UCI and accelerate the trend towards interdisciplinary research in NIDCD mission areas. The resulting synergy among disciplines is critical for a fuller understanding of communication and communication disorders.
The rapid pace of scientific discovery in Hearing Research increasingly calls for interdisciplinary and collaborative work. The UC Irvine Core Center for Hearing and Communication Research facilitates such work by providing state-of-the-art tools and expertise to investigators that complement their own skills. The resulting synergy has proven to be efficient and productive.
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