UC Irvine announced Wednesday that it had been awarded an $8-million grant to establish one of six centers around the country tasked with creating a database of brain cell activity, expected to help develop treatment for a number of diseases.
The grant from the National Institutes of Health will allow researchers to study brain cell activity in motor neuron disorders like Lou Gehrig's disease and build a detailed collection of these diseases' signatures.
The signatures will be used to identify cell targets for new drug treatments, the campus said.
NIH is awarding $64 million to six research groups to establish these centers, which will feed into the database. The UCI-based center will be called NeuroLINCS.
"Human brain cells are far less understood than other cells in the body," said Leslie M. Thompson, a UCI professor of psychiatry and human behavior and neurobiology and behavior.
"The collective expertise of NeuroLINCS investigators provides a unique opportunity to increase our knowledge of what makes brain cells unique and what happens during neurodegenerative diseases."
The five others participating in the project are Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease; UC San Francisco; Johns Hopkins University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.