Tuesday, February 21, 2017

UTSA receives $5.29 million grant for brain health research

UTSA receives $5.29 million grant for brain health research


(Dec. 1, 2016) -- Charles Wilson, professor and Ewing Halsell Chair in Biology at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), has received an eight-year, grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services expected to total $5,292,000. Wilson will receive the grant through the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which aims to reduce the burden of neurological disease by supporting and conducting neuroscience research. Wilson's research focuses on the brain region involved in voluntary motor behavior, the basal ganglia.

"This prestigious award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is an immeasurable investment in brain health, which is a key research area not only for UTSA but also for the entire UT System. Dr. Wilson's research focus on the circuitry and function of neurons of the basal ganglia, which controls movement, will advance our understanding of degenerative disorders such Parkinson's disease. As a member of the UTSA Neurosciences Institute, Dr. Wilson is well deserving of this highly competitive NIH grant, and his top-tier research aligns with our Tier One goals," said Bernard Arulanandam, UTSA interim vice president for research.

Wilson's research will examine local cell signaling in the basal ganglia to further develop a model of basal ganglia function. The goal of this modeling is to help improve current understanding of basal ganglia disorders and to assist in the development of potentially effective treatments.

"With this substantial funding, UTSA will continue its leadership in brain health research and help the scientific community better understand, diagnose, treat and prevent neurological disorders like Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases. This work will help reduce folks' suffering and save lives," said U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro. "Thanks in large part to UTSA's impressive and expansive research programs, San Antonio is increasingly known as a city where science thrives. Our nation must never lose sight of the value of research, discovery, and knowledge. I'm proud that UTSA and the broader San Antonio community are leaders in learning, particularly in the field of brain health."

The UTSA faculty includes 40 active researchers in brain health, an extensive initiative that includes research in neurodegenerative disease, traumatic brain injury, regenerative medicine, stem cell therapies, medicinal chemistry, neuroinflammation and drug design. This work is conducted across five top-tier research centers, including the UTSA Neurosciences Institute, the San Antonio Cellular Therapeutics Institute, the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, the Center for Innovative Drug Discovery and the Institute for Health Disparities Research.

Leading the brain health revolution is one of UT System Chancellor William McRaven's "Quantum Leap" initiatives to provide the citizens of Texas the very best in higher education, research and health care. Chancellor McRaven has worked to make unprecedented investments in leveraging and connecting all the cutting edge science ongoing at UT institutions to drive collaboration and expand research efforts in brain health to meet a growing demand.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke awarded the funding to UTSA through the Outstanding Investigator Award program. The program provides longer-term support to researchers whose records of achievement indicate their ability to make important contributions in the field of neuroscience. More stable grant funding gives recipients greater flexibility and freedom to conduct potentially groundbreaking research.

UTSA is recognized as one of the top 400 universities in the world and one of the top five young universities in the nation by Times Higher Education.

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