Two interdisciplinary teams win Accelerator Grants from Iowa Neuroscience Institute

The Iowa Neuroscience Institute has awarded two Accelerator Grants to support pilot projects that are expected to generate data supporting proposals to the BRAIN Initiative. Launched in 2013 as one of the Obama Administration “Grand Challenges,” the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative is a public-private research initiative aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain. 

This year’s INI accelerator grants were awarded to interdisciplinary teams of neuroscientists and engineers for research on optical modulation of neuronal circuits and on developing ultra-high resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).      

“In an impressive group of applications, these projects stood out for their innovative collaborations, tapping into multiple areas of expertise across the university,” said Ted Abel, INI director. “Drawing on our dynamic connections among clinicians, scientists, and engineers, this work represents exciting new paths and great promise for the future.”

Following review of a competitive pool of applications, the following projects were selected to receive $50,000 each:

"Precision optical modulation of neuronal circuits in the human brain"

Building on their expertise in electrical stimulation of the brain, this interdisciplinary team proposes to develop optical, or light-based, neuromodulation capabilities. This advances the recent breakthrough by Christianson and Greenlee in developing a novel neural interface capable of recording from hundreds of neurons across the six cortical layers of the human brain. The team comprises experts in neuroscience, neurosurgery, and optoelectronic engineering, highlighting some of the unique strengths of UI research teams. This technology may represent a significant advance beyond the current state-of-the-art electrical stimulation for treatment of functional neurologic disease.

"Ultrahigh-resolution whole-brain functional MRI"

This team seeks to increase the spatial resolution in fMRI by eight-fold and the temporal resolution by five-fold. Such advances would improve the ability to probe neural circuits with greater fidelity to the underlying brain anatomy and without interference. They are particularly focused on the hippocampus, which is known to be composed of histologically distinct subregions that are affected by aging and Alzheimer’s differently. High-resolution imaging of the human hippocampus is necessary to inform whether interventions targeting hippocampal function are acting on the hippocampus subregions affected earliest in Alzheimer’s progression.

Monday, December 19, 2022