The ability to translate discoveries in basic neurobiology from rodent models to humans requires careful phenotypic assessment. Many, if not all, human neuropsychiatric disorders involve significant changes in behavior, sensorimotor processing and synaptic function. While great progress is being made in generating rodent models of neuropsychiatric disorders, including genetic models in transgenic mice, the ability to characterize these models systematically at behavioral and synaptic levels has lagged and has often not been integrated across scientific disciplines. We propose to create a Functional Assessment Core (FAC) that will address these issues and facilitate translational research in the broader Washington University (WU) neuroscience community. This core will draw upon existing expertise in several WU departments, including Psychiatry, Neurology, Otolaryngology and Anesthesiology, and will provide analyses of rodent behavior, sensory function and pain processing in combination with in vivo and in vitro studies of synaptic function.
The specific aims of the FAC are: 1. To provide assessment of rodent behavior, including learning and memory, emotionality, sensorimotor capabilities and social interactions, pain-related behaviors, and sensory function;2. To provide assessment of synaptic function in rodent models using physiological approaches that range from in vivo electroencephalography and evoked potential studies to in vitro brain slice preparations and single-synapse studies in dissociated cell culture;and 3. To provide scientific expertise and management skills necessary for promoting easy access to functional assessment research and for maintaining an efficient core facility to carry out such work. Client-based services associated with this aim include consultation in designing studies, in presenting and interpreting data, in conducting appropriate statistical analyses, and in database management, access, and archiving in association with the Administrative and Informatics Cores. The FAC is designed to serve as a bridge between target discovery and characterization (via the Molecular Analysis, Optical Imaging and Viral Vector Cores) and translational efforts in the Biospecimen and Clinical Data Acquisition Core. In turn, the FAC will serve as a conduit for integration with other existing translational research efforts at WU including programs in neuroimaging, human neurogenetics and neuroclinical trials.
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