The objectives of the BCM IDDRC Neurobehavioral Core are three-fold. The first is to provide training in the rigorous performance of mouse behavioral assays. The second goal is to provide priority access to the Neurobehavioral Core facilities for BCM IDDRC investigators interested in identifying and characterizing behavioral abnormalities in mice carrying mutations relevant to IDD. BCM IDDRC investigators will have two options available to them for the behavioral analyses of their mutant mice. Investigators will be able to either test their own mice, or they will be able to utilize core services to perform behavioral analyses for them on a collaborative basis with Dr. Paylor's group for either mutant mice or newly developed mutant rats (1). This latter strategy is referred to as a collaborative core service. The third objective of the Neurobehavioral Core is to provide training in experimental design and statistical analyses that is customized for the mutant mouse behavioral analyses. While the ability of laboratories to use genetic and molecular techniques for generating mutant mouse models of intellectual disabilities has become more routine, the ability to perform comprehensive analyses of the behavioral responses of these mutant mice is still expensive, requires numerous pieces of specialized equipment and specially designed laboratory space. Perhaps most significant, appropriate training in the design of studies and analysis of the resultant data (along with use of the equipment) is necessary to generate high quality and reproducible results. It is the goal of the Neurobehavioral Core to provide access to state of the art facilities that are equipped with specialized equipment for behavioral studies. It also provides rigorous training to ensure successful analysis of mutant mice generated by BCM IDDRC investigators. In addition, a collaborative service is available to those BCM IDDRC investigators interested in having the testing performed for them in collaboration with Dr. Paylor. The collaborative model applies, in particular, to the newly developed rat genetic models that are already being analyzed and are likely to be advanced in the coming years. The BCM IDDRC Neurobehavioral Core will provide BCM IDDRC investigators with a battery of assays that will offer initial insight into the behavioral consequences of specific mutations. In addition, the Neurobehavioral Core will also provide access and training on the use of additional behavioral assays that will allow a BCM IDDRC investigator to perform critical secondary or follow-up studies important to better understand the nature of any behavioral abnormality detected with a primary behavioral test battery. The Neurobehavioral Core of the BCM IDDRC is well established in studying the behavioral responses of mutant mice. The Core has been in operation for more than 15 years, since the original recruitment of Dr. Paylor. Dr. Paylor was involved in the initial studies of behavioral effects in a knockout mouse model in 1991, and has since evaluated the behavioral effects of over 200 different mutations in lines of mice. Most recently, he has characterized 7 mutations resulting in gene knockouts in rats, which are now possible with the use of TALEN and CRISPR methods for generating genetic lesions. Shortly after joining BCM, Dr. Paylor became the Director for the BCM IDDRC Neurobehavioral Core. His laboratory developed and utilizes a comprehensive set of behavioral assays to evaluate a wide range of responses in mutant mice and his skills and experience have been translated to the Neurobehavioral Core. Dr. Corinne Spencer is the Co-Director for the BCM IDDRC Neurobehavioral Core. She joined the Neurobehavioral Core approximately 8 years ago and has quickly become a major strength of the Core by providing management of the day-to-day operation of the Core, training investigators on various items of equipment, the development and validation of new testing assays, and training users in best practices for rigorous and reproducible behavioral studies in the mouse. Users of BCM IDDRC Neurobehavioral Core have access to a wide array of behavioral assays (see below) to assess numerous domains of CNS function. The Core has been incredibly successful during the previous funding period as measured by the number of users, hours of use, and publications by a variety of users. Moreover, the Core continues to expand its ability to assess behavioral responses of mutant mice and now rats, responding to increasing needs and desires of BCM IDDRC investigators.
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