The overall goal of the Pilot Project Core of the New Mexico Alcohol Research Center (NMARC) is to foster cross-disciplinary FASD research across campus and promote growth of the Center. The Core will provide a critical opportunity to develop new basic, translational and clinical fetal alcohol research projects that complement and broaden the NMARC's research program portfolio. Selected projects must fit within the context of the Center's three strategic objectives as well as build on the overall integration and sustainability of the Center's research activities. Pilot projects will be funded for up to 2 years. The goal of each pilot project is to obtain sufficient preliminary data to develop competitive research grant applications and cultivate new investigators that will form part of the center. Support from the NMARC Pilot Project Core has played a crucial role in the success of R21 and/or R01 applications submitted by center investigators. Importantly, our Pilot Project Core has opened new and important research areas in the FASD field (e.g., impact of PAE on place cell, grid cell, and head direction cell function; effect of PAE on pain processing; interaction between placental dysfunction and PAE) and has brought novel approaches into the field (e.g., applied behavioral analysis in FASD management; circular RNA studies). The Core will primarily support new investigators that have yet to obtain substantial independent research support. A year prior to the end of the Pilot Projects that are initially funded, a call for additional Pilot Project proposals will be widely advertised within the scientific community at UNM, the Mind Research Network, and neighboring institutions. Each project will have an Advisory Team composed of senior alcohol researchers with complementary scientific expertise to that of the pilot project PI. The Center Director and NMARC Steering Committee will monitor progress of all pilot projects. Pilot project progress will be reviewed tri-annually by the NMARC Steering Committee and annually by the Program Advisory Committee. The Pilot Project Core goals have been successfully accomplished during the first 3 years of the first five-year phase of the NMARC P50 award. We recruited several new investigators from diverse fields into the FASD research field. Two R21 and one R01 grants were obtained using preliminary data collected under the support of the Pilot Project Core. A total of 7 peer-reviewed papers have been published or submitted by Pilot Project Core investigators. Support was preferentially provided to junior faculty members. The Pilot Project Core will support two projects during the first two years. Project 6A will test the hypothesis that miR-150 inhibits Vezf1 to alter angiogenesis in the developing cortices of mice prenatally exposed to alcohol (P.I. Amy Gardiner, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor, Dept of Neurosciences). Project 6B will investigate the effects of prenatal ethanol exposure on astrocyte and oligodendrocyte development in vivo (P.I. Tou Yia Vue, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Dept of Neurosciences).

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Specialized Center (P50)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAA1)
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University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center
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