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Vanderbilt nets brain gene research center
Date:10/2/2007

ypotheses, and find answers relevant to mental health.

The Vanderbilt center is the epitome of a Conte Center, she said. It really captures the spirit of integration and synergy between investigators.

The centers are named for the late U.S. Rep. Silvio O. Conte, a longtime advocate for scientific research and organizer of the 1990s Decade of the Brain efforts. There are approximately 10 Conte Centers for Neuroscience Research and 10 Conte Centers for the Neuroscience of Mental Disorders centers with a translational-clinical research emphasis. Blakely said the new center reflects Vanderbilts commitment to and investments in neuroscience programming, evident in the growth in research and education here over the last decade.

This is a defining moment for the neurosciences at Vanderbilt, said Jeffrey Balser, M.D., Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Research. Over the last few years, we have received several forms of external validation that affirm neuroscience at Vanderbilt has become absolutely top tier. An NIH Conte award makes that excellence even more visible to the national and international research community, and at the same time will provide crucial resources for making fundamental progress in mental health research.

The Vanderbilt Conte Center includes scientists from the School of Medicine and the College of Arts and Science as well as researchers at other institutions. The center investigators will probe the workings of serotonin neurons in the raphe complex from their earliest stages of development to their function in mature animals. The operating hypothesis of the group, Blakely said, is that a rich network of genes establishes and maintains serotonin signaling in the brain and that deficits in the formation or stability of this network in humans underlies risk for mental illness.

The projects make extensive use of specialized mouse models, including mice in which serotonin neurons have been specifically tagged with fluorescent mark
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Contact: Leigh MacMillan
leigh.macmillan@vanderbilt.edu
615-322-4747
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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