December 7, 2020

Salk neuroscientists receive $4.4 million from NIH BRAIN Initiative

Salk News

Salk neuroscientists receive $4.4 million from NIH BRAIN Initiative

LA JOLLA—Salk Institute neuroscientists Edward Callaway, Sreekanth Chalasani, and Nancy Padilla Coreano have been named recipients in the 2020 round of grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to gain new insights into brain function.

The grants, totaling $4.4 million, are awarded through the BRAIN Initiative, as part of a large effort to use knowledge about how the brain works to develop more effective therapies for neurological disorders. Additionally, the BRAIN awards support scientific teams in order to advance neurotechnologies and provide a deeper understanding of the link between brain function and behavior.

“The Salk Institute is incredibly grateful to again participate in the BRAIN Initiative,” says Salk President Rusty Gage. “The work of our scientists will contribute greatly to the goals of the Initiative and add to the foundation of our understanding of the human brain.”

Four NIH BRAIN Initiative grants will support the research of the following three Salk scientists:

Edward Callaway, a professor in the Systems Neurobiology Laboratory, was awarded two BRAIN grants totaling $1.6 million to explore the organization and function of multiple types of neurons involved in function of the cerebral cortex. The team will use genetic approaches and neural circuit tracing to better understand the interconnections and coordinated activities of these neurons. Their results could lead to insights about what goes wrong in conditions such as schizophrenia and autism.

Sreekanth Chalasani, an associate professor in the Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, was awarded a $2.6 million grant to investigate the use of ultrasound waves to control specific neuronal cells in mouse brains, a system that would be useful for reversing electrophysiological and behavioral deficits seen in epilepsy, for example. Chalasani’s collaborators are Professor James Friend of UC San Diego and Associate Professor Marcos Sotomayor of The Ohio State University.

Nancy Padilla Coreano, a senior postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Salk Professor Kay Tye, was awarded a $123,390 grant to study how the brain represents social dominance. The study will broaden the understanding of how neural circuits control normal social behaviors and will contribute to the identification of novel interventions for social deficits seen in psychiatric disorders.

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