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BRI neuroscientists hold positions in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, the Schools of Dentistry, Nursing, Engineering and Applied Science and also in the College of Letters and Science. Our challenge is to form alliances among researchers from across UCLA’s vast research complex. How can we bring together faculty, students, staff and postdoctoral fellows to catalyze collaborations?

“UCLA’s scientific community has a uniquely entrepreneurial spirit,” says BRI director Chris Evans, “but convening scientists in this intellectually rich zone still requires an active effort.”

The launch of six new Integrative Centers for Neuroscience Excellence (ICNE) will bring different areas of research excellence into the forefront and highlight the specific strengths of UCLA's neuroscience activities. The UCLA neuroscience community is very large, and research is conducted within a number of schools, institutes, departments and organized research units (ORUs) which can make it difficult to envision how all the components contribute to the whole. The ICNE, by giving an institutional "face" to different areas of neuroscience, will remedy this situation by providing a focused profile highlighting the diverse activities of the neuroscience community to potential students and the public. The proposed ICNE represent communities of scientists who share an interest in similar topics or techniques, and correspond roughly to the focused areas of research (FARs) that guide curriculum options for the Interdepartmental Ph.D. Program for Neuroscience. Each ICNE will develop its own identity. Each will have its own website, and receive endowment support to organize symposia and seminars, as well as facilitate coordination and cooperation in its particular field. There are six Integrative Centers for Neuroscience Excellence. Two ICNE have launched (the Integrative Center for Learning and Memory, and the Integrative Center for Neurogenetics) and four are in the process of development. The next center to be launched will be the Integrative Center for Neural Repair and will represent research concentrations in neural development, degeneration and repair. Future ICNE will be concentrated on neuroimaging, synapses, cells and circuits, and addiction neurobiology.

Another particularly successful project has been the Joint Seminars in Neuroscience series, which brings 30 leading neuroscientists to UCLA every year. More than 200 scientists from 20 disciplines gather weekly to hear these distinguished lecturers, and also join smaller groups of scientists for more focused discussions. Alliances often take shape at “journal club” and “affinity group” meetings of faculty, students and postdoctoral researchers. The BRI also provides core facilities of specialized equipment and resources that many research groups share. All our efforts are focused on attracting people and resources to collaborative multidisciplinary neuroscience.

In this environment, collaborations can even arise from pure serendipity. Neuroscience touches every phase of life, from early development and learning to the pathologies associated with old age. The more connections we create, the greater our potential for improving millions of lives.

 

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