Stanford Brain Research Center

Stanford University

Stanford, CA

 

Mission and Goals

Introduction

The Stanford Brain Research Center (SBRC) has been organized to serve as the unifying body link = #00ff00 for the diverse and physically distributed neuroscience-related research across SUMC and the University. It serves to foster, coordinate, and support:

i) recruitment of faculty in over 15 departments with neuroscientists

ii) collaborative and multidisciplinary research programs

iii) sponsored research initiatives and fundraising

iv) a spirit of community for both basic and clinical neuroscientists

v) education of students, scientists, and the public.

Successful coordination of university-wide neuroscience efforts is imperative if we are to adapt to rapid changes in research trends and funding opportunities. Towards this goal, we have already secured funds from the PMGM for part of the training and educational activities for one year and, in conjunction with other efforts that we hope will culminate in funding in the next few months, we expect that the Center can succeed in becoming financially self-sufficient. We await approval from the institution for major fundraising by both the Office of Medical Development and the University Development Office.

 

Background

Neuroscience is an inherently multidisciplinary field with fundamental questions that require integrative research from molecules to systems/behavior and computation, and from embryos to adults in both normal and diseased states. Neuroscience research at Stanford involves more than 80 faculty distributed across the School of Humanities and Sciences and the School of Medicine. These neuroscientists are in 14 basic science and clinical departments–Anesthesia, Biological Sciences, Comparative Medicine, Genetics, Molecular Pharmacology, Neurobiology, Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Neurosurgery, Radiology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Psychology, Developmental Biology, Molecular and Cellular Physiology and Pathology. Most of the neuroscience faculty have achieved individual international recognition. The SBRC combines the individual strengths of these faculty and departments into an entity that – for the purposes of research, collegiality, education and fundraising – is greater than the sum of its parts. The concept for this Center has its origins in 1996 with independent initiatives by leaders in Neurology and Neurological Sciences, in Radiology, and in Psychology (in H&S). These efforts were combined and expanded to reflect the breadth of the neurosciences at Stanford and the need to have a centralized body link = #00ff00 to support the many smaller initiatives.

Many faculty in the neurosciences at Stanford already work together effectively as a community to train students in the Neurosciences Ph.D. Program, but this top-ranked educational program is not the appropriate body link = #00ff00 to promote research collaboration between individual laboratories and to drive major fundraising efforts. Moreover, through the SBRC, there will be new opportunities for the many clinically-oriented neuroscientists to mentor Ph.D. students and to interact with their basic science and clinical colleagues.

 

Mission

The mission of the Stanford Brain Research Center is to capture world leadership in research and training by promoting and integrating basic and clinical multidisciplinary brain research at Stanford. Departmental coordination in support of faculty recruitment helps departments attract top neuroscience faculty, and enables the institution to accommodate rapid developments in the field and maintain an appropriate balance neuroscience research that spans from molecules to brain and behavior. The SBRC promotes an interactive environment and sponsors educational programs that fosters collaborative research and facilitate bench to bedside efforts. The existence of the SBRC and its programs, its success in fostering collegial interactions and collaborations, and its proactive initiatives help to attract sponsored research and private support for which individual Stanford brain research efforts are not competitive or currently unavailable.

 

Faculty Membership

The Center serves as the umbrella for Stanford faculty with neuroscience research interests that are organized into the following three groups:

• Brain, Behavioral, and Cognitive Neuroscience

• Neurobiology of Disease

• Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience

Each group has representation on the Executive Committee which coordinates the activities of the SBRC. The list of faculty participants and a one sentence description of their research interests is provided in the Appendix.

 

SBRC Initiatives

The SBRC sponsors a number of initiatives to support its mission. These are in the areas of: building a neuroscience community, attracting funds, education, and community outreach.

Building a neuroscience community: Neuroscientists interact with colleagues because of a common departmental affiliation and physical location, common scientific and teaching activities, and communal activities of the Neurosciences Ph.D. Program. The SBRC offers several functions that promote interactions both within and across the various disciplines of the neurosciences. The goals are to expand the neurosciences community and to encourage collaborations by increasing awareness of research being done across basic and clinical lines throughout the campus. SBRC membership expands beyond the Neurosciences Program and includes faculty who do not wish to mentor Neurosciences Ph.D. students, but who can contribute to and benefit from the research and educational mission of the SBRC. Research presentations are designed to promote a sense of community and inform faculty and students about the depth of research efforts at the basic and clinical levels, both of which will promote new collaborative interactions.

• Frontiers of Neuroscience seminar series: There are currently two seminar series at Stanford devoted to neuroscience--Neurobiology of Disease (Winter quarter; hosted by the Neurosciences Ph.D. Program) and Frontiers of Neurobiology (Spring quarter; hosted by the Department of Neurobiology) and the SBRC will complete the yearly cycle with a seminar series in the Fall. Our goal is for this to be a popular high-profile seminar series that enables the neuroscience community to invite top neuroscientists in the country to spend a day talking with faculty and students and showcase the latest advances in neuroscience, from molecules to behavior. Representatives of the departments with neuroscience faculty at both the School of Medicine and H&S and students in the Neurosciences Ph.D. Program choose speakers and serve as hosts for the individual visits and presentations. This same mechanism is used to choose and host speakers for the Neurobiology of Disease seminar series and works very well in representing interests across departmental lines as well as increasing collegial interactions .

• Research colloquia: One of the goals of the SBRC is to sponsor bi-monthly presentations of research by Stanford faculty. Each session will involve two faculty from different departments but who are working on related topics. The goal will be to inform all members of the neuroscience community about the neuroscience being done throughout the campus. This will foster links and create collaborative interactions across departments and disciplines, such as connecting clinical neuroscientists with faculty from multiple departments using fMRI. We also hope to be able to support journals clubs and groups such as the Hebb Club, a quarterly faculty research colloquium focused on brain and cognitive neuroscience which includes faculty from Stanford, UCSF, and Berkeley.

• Neurobiology of Disease seminar series: This effort was initiated by the Neurosciences Program four years ago and will now become one of the functions of the SBRC. This popular high-profile seminar series presented each winter quarter has enabled the neuroscience community to invite top neuroscientists in the country to spend a day talking with faculty and students and present the latest on the underlying neurobiology of various diseases of the nervous system. Each participating department will have a liaison who will work together to select the speakers and host their visits.

• Mini symposia: The SBRC hosts semi-annual interdisciplinary symposia. These typically take the form of half-day symposia with 3-4 speakers. The first one will be held in Winter 1999 on the topic of aging. Additional symposia on the molecular basis of learning and memory, learning disabilities, stroke, and on functional imaging of higher brain functions are anticipated over the next two years. A symposium to launch the new Center is being planned for Spring 1999. This half-day event will highlight ongoing neurosciences research at Stanford and the exciting new directions for the future.

• Coordination of faculty recruitment: The SBRC will engage departments that traditionally hire neuroscientists in a discussion about the overall balance of neuroscience expertise at Stanford in relation to trends in neuroscience. The Executive Committee, along with the relevant chairs, will help to coordinate recruitment of new faculty in areas of weakness that may span departmental boundaries or areas that will complement existing strengths. The SBRC can help departments with the billets to recruit top neuroscientists, with the advantages of a co-ordinated community of neuroscientists, the SBRC functions, and financial support as described below.

Attracting extramural funds: With the SBRC in place, we envision many new opportunities for expanding the extramural funding base for the neurosciences at Stanford. Some elements of the proposed SBRC have been functioning for over a year and have led to converging efforts to address new areas that require coordinated research efforts. A number of collaborative efforts have already been initiated as a result of the activities described above and meetings on interdisciplinary topics, such as:

• The translation of molecular research to living models as applied, for example, to persons with neurogenetic diseases, stroke, and epilepsy.

• The reorganization of structure and function of brain tissue after injury such as trauma or stroke and during learning and memory.

• The elucidation of the processes involved in aging, and the treatment of disorders of the aging brain.

• Pediatric brain development for complex thought, language and emotion, and treatment of children in whom these processes are disordered.

• Gene therapy in diseases of the nervous system.

 

These and other initiatives provide new needs and opportunities for extramural funding, including:

• Sponsored research program from the pharmaceutical industry: We anticipate substantial funding from the pharmaceutical industry for investigations of Alzheimer’s disease, pain, and various forms of neurodegeneration. We are working with Chris Scott, Director of Research Development, to offer a sponsored research program attractive to major pharmaceutical companies. This program will follow the successful Stanford models with SmithKline Beecham and Rhone Poulenc Rorer. One proposal, already under review, is focused on neuroscience applications by faculty at both Stanford and UCSF.

• Industrial affiliates: The SBRC has assumed the industrial affiliates program from the Neurosciences Program and invites clinical and basic science departments with a large neurosciences component to join this effort. We anticipate that an offering from the SBRC which includes a larger number of neuroscientists and covers a broader range of neuroscience expertise than can be offered by the smaller individual departments will be highly successful at attracting and maintaining industrial affiliates. The affiliation will be via Spectrum and the funds generated will be used to support the efforts of the SBRC and the Neurosciences Program.

• Federally-supported research programs: New interactions among Stanford neuroscientists can lead to program project and center grants. Two PPGs (Conte Center and Epilepsy Center) are currently active here, and one Center grant in Radiology is focused on MR technology development. Given the size and distinction of the neuroscience faculty, we believe the number of multicomponent research programs can be significantly increased. Individual research proposals in response to RFAs and RFPs that were previously unrealistic because of the lack of an integrated organization will become highly competitive.

• Postdoctoral training grants: Each of the three SBRC groups is well positioned to attract training grant support for postdoctoral fellows. The various research and educational activities described in this proposal improves the training environment for world class training programs that make such proposals more competitive.

• Private donorship and foundation support: The SBRC will specifically undertake fundraising for endowed chairs, start-up funds to help recruitment of new faculty by member departments, and initiatives from the three groups constituting the center. For example, imaging of the nervous system at both the subcellular and the functional level is needed by a large number of SBRC participants, but such imaging often require expensive instrumentation. The Brain and Cognitive Neuroscience group has requested assistance in support of a new fMRI magnet and the SBRC has undertaken this as one of its first fundraising efforts. The SBRC and the increased level of neuroscience-based activities on campus and in the community will make fundraising easier by individual SBRC members and by Stanford.

Education: In addition to the seminars and colloquia described above, a further goal of the SBRC is to support existing teaching and training programs, and to undertake new educational programs that are beyond the ability of individual departments.

• Neurosciences Ph.D. Program: Many faculty in the neurosciences at Stanford already work together effectively as a community to train students in the Neurosciences Ph.D. Program. With the advent of the SBRC, whose purview it is to promote research collaboration between individual laboratories and to drive major fundraising efforts, even greater opportunities for our students exists. The seminars and colloquia sponsored by the SBRC enhance educational opportunities for Ph.D. and M.D. students, for postdoctoral fellows, and for interns and residents. The emerging sense of community facilitates collaborative teaching in existing and new courses. Finally, with successful fundraising, the SBRC can help to fill some of the gaps in educational costs for these students.

• Community Outreach: One of the important functions of the SBRC is to provide an educational bridge with the non-scientific community of the Bay Area and beyond. In addition to providing a service to the community, such activity increases the visibility of the SBRC and assists in fundraising. A planned evening series will bring the community up to date on new developments in neuroscience as they affect our understanding of the neurobiology of disease and of human behavior. The general format will be a dinner with faculty, guests, and community leaders followed by two presentations and discussion (one presentation by a Stanford faculty and another by an outside expert) to a large audience. A reception will follow. One of the first of these will be on learning disabilities and will be coupled with one of our mini-symposia. These events also provide opportunities for both scientists and non-scientists – such as educators, clergy, ethicists, business people and lawyers – to discuss issues in neurosciences that relate to society.

 

Governance

The SBRC is run as a Center without walls under the program co-directorship of Dr. Howard Schulman (Professor and Chairman, Department of Neurobiology, and Neurosciences Ph.D. Program Director) and Dr. Gary Steinberg (Professor and Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery). The program directors, together with the remaining members of the Executive Committee involved in the creation of this concept – Dr. Gary Glover (Professor of Radiology and Director of the Radiological Sciences Laboratory), Dr. Craig Heller (Professor and Chairman of Biological Sciences), Dr. William Mobley (Professor and Chairman, Department of Neurology), Dr. Allan Reiss (Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences) and Dr. Brian Wandell (Professor of Psychology) – will form the executive committee. Dr. Judy Illes (Radiology, Director for Grants and Research Program Development), also one of the founding members of the SBRC, serves as executive director. An advisory board composed of four distinguished members of the national neurosciences community is being organized at this time.

All Center faculty retain primary appointments in their existing departments. Meetings will occur twice a year to set priorities and goals.

Management of grants, indirect costs and tuition reimbursement will be handled according to the guidelines of the Research Council, as they become available.

 

 

Appendix

FACULTY PARTICIPANTS IN THE STANFORD BRAIN RESEARCH CENTER

John Adler

Development of minimally invasive tools for the treatment and resection of benign and malignant brain tumors.

Greg Albers

New pharmacological approaches for stroke treatment and prevention; imaging methods for early identification of ischemic brain tissue.

Richard Aldrich

Regulation of membrane excitability; molecular basis of the gating of ion channels.

Scott Atlas

Functional MRI; advanced MRI applications to disease states.

Ben Barres

Development and function of glia.

Denis Baylor

Visual transduction

Helen Blau

Molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling muscle differentiation and localization of mRNAs during neuromuscular development; gene therapy for neuronal damage.

Paul S. Buckmaster

Hippocampus, epilepsy, hippocampal anatomy.

Regina Casper

Alterations in brain morphology and organization during starvation and

anorexia nervosa.

Pak Chan

Molecular and cellular mechanisms of cell death in CNS injury and in

neurodegeneration using transgenic and knockout strategies.

Linda Cork

Motor neuron disease, aging, Alzheimer's Disease.

David R. Cox

Human genetics; molecular genetic basis of human disease; human disease; human genome analysis.

David Daunt

Alpha 2 adrenergic receptors, pain, anesthesia, analgesia.

William Dement

Pharmacological, electrophysiological, chronobiological characteristics of sleep.

Leslie Dorfman

Clinical electrophysiology of the peripheral and central nervous system.

 

Lawrence Eng

Cytokines, chemokines, and growth factors in injured astrocytes.

Russell Fernald

Molecular basis of visual system development and function.

Judith Ford

Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) and fMRI to understand auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia and anomia in Alzheimer's Disease.

John Gabrieli

Brain organization of human memory studied by its impairment in disease and by functional brain imaging (fMRI).

Dolores Gallagher-Thompson

Psychological well-being of patients with dementia and their caregivers.

Rona Giffard

Cellular and molecular basis for neuronal and astrocyte vulnerability to ischemic injury.

William Gilly

Physiology and cell biology of ion channels in nerve and muscle cells; neuromuscular systems, motor control and behavior in Cephalopod mollusks.

    Gary Glover

    MR imaging technology development; fMRI technology development.

    Sherril Green

    Motor neuron disease, cytoskeleton, aging.

    Murphy Greer

    Neuropathology of Alzheimer's Disease; prediction of clinical decline in Alzheimer's.

    James Gross

    Emotion and cognition.

    David Heeger

    Human and computer vision, computational neuroscience, functional magnetic resonance imaging, image processing.

    Gary Heit

    Research interests include neurophysiology of cognition, basic mechanisms

    of epilepsy, and image-guided functional neurosurgery.

    H. Craig Heller

    Neurobiology of sleep; circadian rhythms; thermoregulation.

    Dikran Horoupian

    Neuropathology of neurodegenerative diseases, neurodevelopmental disorders, CNS neoplasms nerve and muscle disease.

    Lynne Huffman

    Developmental plasticity in human infants; peripheral markers of CNS

    organization in infancy, e.g., cardiovascular reactivity and cry acoustics.

    John Huguenard

    Neurobiology of thalamocortical oscillatory activities in epilepsy and sleep. Electrophysiological studies of intrinsic excitability and synaptic connectivity; computer simulations.

    Joan Kendig

    Effect of anesthetics and analgesics on molecular components involved in impulse conduction and synaptic transmission.

    Terence Ketter

    Brain imagining and pharmacological studies of emotion, mood, and temperament in healthy volunteers; mood disorders.

    Eric Knudsen

    How the auditory system derives spatial information to lead to coordinated motor acts.

    Brian Kobilka

    Adrenergic receptor biology.

    Elliot Krane

    Neurobiology of pain in infants and children; other neurodevelopmental problems.

    Barton Lane

    Spinal cord and spine disease, degenerative and demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system, strokes and infarction, and chronic epilepsy syndromes.

    Richard Lewis

    Calcium signaling by ion channels and cellular organelles; store-operated channels; calcium control of gene expression.

    Liqun Luo

    Molecular mechanisms of neuronal morphogenesis.

    M. Bruce MacIver

    Action of CNS depressants in hippocampal and neocortical brain slices; whole cell patch clamp and field EEG recordings to compare anesthetic actions on synaptic currents and cortical circuit function.

    Daniel Madison

    Synaptic plasticity and neurochemical modulation of neuronal excitability in the CNS.

    Michael Marks

    Cerebral arteriovenous malformations; interventional, neuroradiology.

    Mervyn Maze

    Molecular pharmacology, regulation, structure and uses of human alpha-2 adrenergic receptors for anesthesia and analgesia.

    Susan McConnell

    Developmental neurobiology; determination of neuronal fates in mammalian CNS; mechanism of axon guidance during development.

    U.J. McMahan

    Cellular and molecular basis of synapse development and regeneration.

    Emmanuel Mignot

    Pathophysiology of narcolepsy.

    William Mobley

    Growth factors in development of the nervous system and developmental disorders.

    Daria Mochly-Rosen

    Mechanisms underlying the specificity of protein kinase C isozymes; role of protein-protein interaction in signal transduction.

    Mike Moseley

    Diffusion and perfusion-weighted MRI; stroke.

    Richard Myers

    Genetic, biochemical and cellular basis of inherited human diseases, particularly those that affect the nervous system.

    Lorene Nelson

    Epidemiology of neurodegenerative disorders, and autoimmune disorders; epidemiologic methods quantifying gene-environment interaction and inter-observer agreement.

    William Newsome

    Neural processes that mediate visual perception and visually guided behavior.

    Adolf Pfefferbaum

    Changes in brain structure associated with healthy, aging, schizophrenia, affective disorders, alcoholism, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases; functional neuroimaging.

    David Prince

    Mechanisms of excitability of neurons in the mammalian cerebral cortex.

    Allan Reiss

    Brain development and function in children with neurogenetic, neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders; behavioral neurogenetics, structural and functional imaging.

    Lawrence Rinsky

    Neuromuscular scoliosis, developmental dislocation of the hip, and deformities in cerebral palsy.

    David Rumelhart

    Development of "brain style" or "neurally inspired" computational architectures.

    Robert Sapolsky

    Mechanisms of neuron death; role of stress hormones in neuron death; gene therapy strategies for protecting neurons following neurologic insults.

    Richard Scheller

    Cellular and molecular analysis of neurotransmitter storage and release at the synapse.

    Howard Schulman

    Molecular basis of neuronal plasticity in mammalian CNS. Signal transduction via calcium.

    Thomas Schwarz

    Mechanisms of transmitter release at synapses using Drosophila genetics; the functions of potassium channels in their cellular milieu.

    Matthew Scott

    Developmental biology and genetics of pattern formation; functions of Hedgehog/Patched signaling in neural development and cancer; homeobox genes and cell fate determination.

    Ramin Shahidi

    Design and implementation of advanced computerized surgical tools for

    improved minimally invasive resection of brain lesions.

    Eric Shooter

    Biochemistry and molecular genetics of growth and differentiation of nerve cells.

    Larry Shuer

    Clinical research in congenital skull, spine and brain abnormalities; innovative methods to treat epilepsy surgically; noninvasive methods to measure ICP.

    Jerry Silverberg

    Alzheimer's disease and molecular biology of brain tumors and Parkinson's Disease.

    Stephen Smith

    Imaging of synapse development and structural dynamics; cell signaling in neural development and plasticity.

    Raymond Sobel

    Cellular immune reactions within the CNS, particularly as they occur in multiple sclerosis and in infections.

    David Spiegel

    Effects of hypnosis on perceptual processing studied using functional imaging (BEAM, PET, fMRI).

    Gary Steinberg

    Pathophysiology and neuroprotective strategies cerebral ischemia.

    Lawrence Steinman

    Genetic basis of autoimmune neural disease.

    Lubert Stryer

    Molecular mechanisms of sensory transduction; visual and olfaction.

    Edith Sullivan

    Patterns of sparing and impairment in brain function and structure, using quantitative neuropsychological and brain imaging techniques in patients with neuropsychiatric diseases.

    Darryl Thomander

    Correlations between neuropsychological performance and functional brain imaging;

    effects of brain lesions on speed of cognitive processes.

    Stuart Thompson

    Signal transduction mechanisms; biophysics of ion channels.

     

    Ravi Tolwani

    Neurotropins, molecular genetics, animal models.

    James Trudell

    Molecular models of anesthetic sites of action based on point mutations in GABA and glycine channels that specifically modulate sensitivity to anesthetics.

     

    Victor Tse

    Molecular approach to the treatment of brain tumor and possible graft transplantation.

    Richard Tsien

    Molecular properties of ion channels in relation to function of nerve and muscle; calcium signaling and synaptic plasticity.

    Brian Wandell

    Visual perception, neuroimaging (fMRI); digital imaging; computational models.

    Jeffrey Wine

    Regulation of ion channels by intracellular messengers.

    Mimi Yenari

    Mechanisms of cerebral ischemic injury and potential interventions which may result in treatments for stroke and cerebral hypoxia.

    Jerome Yesavage

    Directs NIH Center for Alzheimer's Disease and other cognitive disorders from an interdisciplinary perspective.

    Robert Zajonc

    Emotion and cognition.

     

     

    Last modified on November 7, 1998