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NeuroNet: Neuroscience Network of East Tennessee

 

Neuroscience is one of the fastest growing areas of scientific investigation.  Neuroscience research advances knowledge and identifies new treatments for major causes of death, disease and psychiatric disorders (e.g., Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, stroke, PTSD, brain trauma, anxiety and substance abuse) in the United States and abroad.  As such, the field of neuroscience research has remarkable funding potential.

Neuroscience is interdisciplinary.  This is exemplified locally, where more than 60 research groups representing nine departments across five colleges at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville as well as the University of Tennessee Medical Center, University of Tennessee Health Science Center (Audiology & Speech Pathology) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are engaged in various aspects of neuroscience research. This diverse group brings a neuroscience perspective to a range of research topics including aging, disease, neurodegeneration, regeneration, repair, stress, addiction, dysregulation, learning, cognition, development, computation, materials and medical devices. Although individual labs in our group are all advancing Neuroscience independently, the potential synergies between groups led us to create a unified NeuroNet research unit in 2012. The purpose of establishing the Neuroscience Network of East Tennessee (NeuroNet) is to promote and foster interactions among neuroscientists associated with the different units in ways that will be of mutual benefit to the investigators, add value to The University and contribute to the health and well-being of society as a whole.  The strategic melding of researchers and assets from the various campuses in and around Knoxville creates a unique research and educational environment that will help propel UT Knoxville into the top 25 public research universities in the nation.

Mission Statement:

a)       Provide a well-defined environment that facilitates neuroscience-related research and educational activities.

b)       Enhance training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdoctoral research associates.

c)       Stimulate and cultivate collaborative efforts among participating neuroscience researchers and teachers that will generate extramural
grant applications and substantial funding.

Management:

a)       Co-DirectorsDr. Rebecca Prosser and Dr. Jim Hall, Department of Biochemistry & Cellular and Molecular Biology, College of Arts & Sciences

b)       Executive Committee: NeuroNet activities are coordinated and guided by an Executive Committee that reflects its diversity.  Members of the Executive Committee include:

Dr. Greg Reynolds, Department of Psychology, College of Arts & Sciences

Dr. Doug Birdwell, Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, College of Engineering

Dr. Marian Roman, College of Nursing

Dr. Silke Hecht, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Russ Langdon, Department of Anesthesia, University of Tennessee Medical Center

Dr. Trent Nichols, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Dr. Mark Hedrick, Department of Audiology & Speech Pathology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Initiatives:

a)       Website:  A NeuroNet website will enhance the sense of community among the members.  The website will provide a list of NeuroNet participants; describe their research activities and contact information; announcements of NeuroNet activities; funding opportunities; and information relevant for training undergraduate and graduate students.  The website will increase the visibility of NeuroNet and its activities to the general public at large.

b)       Collaboration Platform:  Microsoft SharePoint will be used to facilitate collaborative efforts by creating an intranet portal for managing data, applications, and information as well as a mechanism for document and file management.

c)       Seminars:  Seminars and workshops (e.g., see following section for previous events) will be organized to bring to Knoxville noted speakers whose areas of research will be of interest to the neuroscience community.  Local members of the neuroscience community will also be invited to make presentations regarding their research.  Seminars will be followed by a social gathering that will facilitate interactions among all participants.  Graduate and undergraduate students will play integral roles in organizing the seminars; NeuroNet will work to coordinate seminars and cost-sharing with relevant departments and units.

d)       Annual RetreatOur annual retreat serves to bring together members of the NeuroNEetcommunity located across the region, allowing for direct interactions among the members as well as their students and postdoctoral fellows.  Representatives from local industries (e.g., Eli Lilly, Siemens, Neuroscience Associates) with interest in neuroscience research will be invited. Future retreats may be held off-campus and include presentations, a meal and keynote speaker.  This is an ideal way for investigators to become aware of research activities within the NeuroNET group and to foster collaborative interactions.

e)       Student Travel Fellowships:  Fellowships to support student travel to national or international meetings will be provided.  We view this as an important component of the training of undergraduate and graduate students.

f)       Seed Grants:  The NeuroNet ORU provides seed grants to support interdisciplinary collaborations that are expected to result in extramural grant applications and substantial funding.  Applicants must be active members of the NeuroNet group, and proposals must be collaborative, with priority given to those from investigators representing two or more units within NeuroNet.  Support will be available for supplies, equipment, animals and animal care, human subjects, and graduate research assistants.  Awards are for a one year period, with a one year extension possible based upon progress. Assessment of progress will include research publications and presentations, and proposals submitted for external funding.  Six-month progress reports will be required. Proposals and requests for extensions are evaluated by a panel appointed by the co-directors.  Proposals will outline the research to be performed; indicate the source and potential for funding should efforts lead to acquisition of data of sufficient quantity and quality to function as preliminary results; and include a complete CV for each applicant.

g)        Pursue Development:    In addition to federal grants (e.g., NIH, NSF, DOD) we are pursuing additional private funding sources consistent with our research collaborations, such as the Alzheimer’s Association, McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience, National Parkinson Foundation, and the Pat Summitt Foundation.

h)        Undergraduate Education
:    A new undergraduate Interdisciplinary Program Major with a c
oncentration in Neuroscience began in Fall 2013. The concentration was established through efforts by NeuroNet members from several administrative units.  Undergraduate interest is high, as indicated by the formation of a university-recognized Advancing Neuroscience student club in the spring of 2012 and by the many students declaring Neuroscience as their major or minor degree.

 

Contacts:

Rebecca Prosser, Professor
Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology
F211 Walters Life Sciences Building
1414 West Cumberland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996
Email: rprosser@utk.edu
Phone
: 865-974-2722

Jim Hall
Associate Professor
Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology
F219 Walters Life Sciences Building
1414 West Cumberland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996
Email: jhall1@utk.edu
Phone
: 865-974-3069

Website: http://neuronet.utk.edu/

 

 

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