The goal of the Center for the Molecular Biology of Neurosensory Systems is to build a productive group of researchers investigating the mechanisms of neurosensory development which will provide the foundations for new treatments. Advances in developmental neuroscience are essential to the discovery of effective therapies, as evidenced by the NEI's Audacious Goal, to "Regenerate Neurons and Neural Connections", and NIDCD's Priority Area 1 for Hearing and Balance, "Understanding Normal Function". To accomplish this, three research institutions have been working together to establish excellence in this field by funding and mentoring new faculty members to enable them to develop independent research careers, and by creating core facilities offering state of the art technical support. Of our eight junior investigators funded in Phase I, seven have been promoted, some with tenure, and are now serving as mentors themselves. In Phase 11, our Center is expanding to encompass developmental neuroscience and translational research projects. New technologies are being added to our cores, and the cores conduct research to augment to their capabilities. The Center has instituted new mechanisms allowing our members to access additional core facilities as the complexity of research increases. This is resulting in interactive researchers who have obtained over $20,000,000 in new research funds and are publishing independently and together. Utilization of our core facilities extends beyond our Center, and they are major resources for researchers in many specialties who are studying molecular genetic mechanisms. In Phase III, we focus further on the core facilities, expanding and consolidating them to offer a more complete array of services. An experienced Program Coordinator will coordinate the operation of the cores, making them even more efficient and self-sustaining so that the actual funding per core can be decreased. We will continue to fund new researchers and will provide an enhanced mentoring core. Our Center has benefited from an exceptionally talented and engaged External Advisory Committee, and the addition of an internal Steering Committee will provide more immediate advice for the mentoring program and the overall administration of the Center.
The discovery of effective biomedical treatments for developmental disabilities such as hearing loss, vision loss, and autism depends upon a complete understanding of the molecular genetic processes that cause them. Through a program of career development and state of the art technical facilities, we are building an interactive group of researchers using advanced molecular techniques to define causes and treatments.