Synaptic and Neurodegenerative Disease Initiative

Co-directors:

We are in a time of extraordinary growth and opportunity in understanding and ultimately treating synaptic and neurodegenerative disease. The core axis of this effort is human genetics, animal models and mechanistic studies. It will be the successful integration of these elements that will lead to true breakthroughs and therapies. Mounting evidence suggests that many brain diseases previously thought to be unrelated – such as autism, mental retardation, and schizophrenia – have a common origin in the dysfunction of synapses. Moreover, the core pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and Alzheimer’s may also involve defective synaptic function.

This initiative joins research strength in synapse function and plasticity at Brown with strong clinical programs in synaptic and neurodegenerative disease at Brown's affiliated hospitals. This initiative strengthens links among research projects and between basic and clinical science, and aligns with efforts through the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute to consolidate clinical care in neurodevelopment and dementia.

This initiative is seeded by generous gifts from the Suna and Inan Kirac Foundation.