Researchers led by Andrés Couve secure funds to establish the Biomedical Neuroscience Institute (BNI)

A group of researchers at the Faculty of Medicine University of Chile led by Andrés Couve secure funds to establish the Biomedical Neuroscience Institute (BNI).

We want to share the fantastic news that after a thorough selection process, that included a site visit of an international panel of experts, our proposal – Biomedical Neuroscience Institute – has been approved for funding in the Millenium Science Initiative competition for new institutes. The application process started December 2009 and 27 proposals were considered in three rounds of evaluation. Three proposals were selected for funding, which provides stability for a 5 year period, renewable for additional 5.

This is a brief summary of the Biomedical Neuroscience Institute:

Principal Investigator

COUVE, ANDRES

Deputy Principal Investigator

HETZ, CLAUDIO

Associated Investigators

CONCHA, MIGUEL

HARTEL, GRUNDLER

HERRERA-MARSCHITZ, MARIO

HIDALGO, CECILIA

KUKULJAN, MANUEL

LEYTON, LISETTE

MALDONADO, PEDRO

SIERRALTA, JIMENA

SILVA, HERNÁN

Adjunct Investigators

HITSCHFELD, NANCY

OCAMPO, ADRIAN

ORTEGA, JAIME

VALDES, JOSE LUIS

Senior Investigator

ISRAEL, YEDY

Summary

Understanding the function of the nervous system constitutes a broad and central challenge of today’s biology and medicine. Consequently, the discipline of Neuroscience has expanded worldwide and diversified dramatically in recent decades. Yet the integration of the structural and functional organization of the brain in physiology and disease continues to remain beyond our grasp. In Chile thousands of people suffer from neurological and psychiatric disorders with no satisfactory treatment. In addition, the country has experienced a sustained growth in the aged population with concomitant increases in major neurodegenerative and cognitive diseases, but the capacity to conduct clinical brain research sustained by cutting-edge basic Neuroscience is missing.

Tackling this complex issue requires a modern approach grounded in an integrated transdisciplinary strategy. The Biomedical Neuroscience Institute (BNI) constitutes a broad umbrella that brings together a critical mass of leading basic and clinical neuroscientists along with mathematicians under a suitable infrastructure to accomplish world-class scientific research and training. BNI provides a unified vision to explore the dynamic structural and functional organization of the brain under normal physiology from whole organisms to cells, and the mechanisms underlying disease. Four particular qualities place BNI in a pivotal position to lead Neuroscience research in Chile and the region: (i) an extensive track record of individual and collaborative research initiatives in Neuroscience, (ii) the association to major basic-clinical centers of national and international relevance, (iii) a vast training potential in health science undergraduate plus Master, PhD in Biomedical Sciences, MD-PhD and MD Specialist programs, and (iv) a young body of researchers coexisting in a single campus capable of executing the long terms goals of the initiative.

BNI operates under three guiding principles: (i) transdisciplinary research with members contributing with complementary expertise in cell and molecular neuroscience, neural development, morphogenesis, neuropathology, behavior, neural systems, clinical research, pharmacology, genetics, and a trademark of productive interactions between Neuroscience and applied mathematics, (ii) a bottom-up multi-scale approach to study the function of genes from molecules to behavior in complementary animal models, and (iii) an integrated biomedical strategy to promote high-standard scientific contributions guaranteeing the transfer of scientific and medical impact to the community. Research at BNI is organized around interconnected thematic platforms. Five platforms explore the relationship between structure and function of the brain, following a bottom up, multi-scale approach. Two transversal platforms integrate the strategy by conducting research and development in applied mathematics/biomedical informatics, and in neuropathology/pharmacological target validation. A clinical research platform strengthens the needed bridge between basic and medical research and promotes the translation of knowledge to and from the clinic. International networks contribute to position the initiative globally.

BNI aims to: (i) establish an international reference centre for the exploration of the ‘structure and function of the brain under physiological and pathological conditions’, (ii) train and host a new generation of leading researchers and clinicians in a vibrant, solid and unique transdisciplinary environment at the interface of basic neuroscience, neuropathology, and quantitative biology, (iii) produce high-standard clinical research and transfer the impact of its research to society by discovering novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to improve the life quality of patients with neurological and psychiatric disorders, and (iv) become a resource center for specialized clinical practitioners and the general public.

Further reading: http://www.iniciativamilenio.cl/index.php

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