The Neuroscience in Health and
Disease Research Cluster incorporates researchers from each of the four
departments of the School of Pharmacy.
Members use a wide range of technical
and theoretical approaches to study normal brain function, to uncover the
fundamental causes of neurological and psychiatric diseases, to identify novel
therapeutic targets, to develop new agents (including gene therapy strategies),
for their treatment and, to develop effective, safe and age-appropriate drug
formulations to facilitate delivery to the brain across the blood brain
Methods used range from the study of individual protein molecules
using biochemical and cell biological methodology to perinatal
gene delivery to the nervous system, advanced electrophysiological
recordings from brain slice preparations together with confocal and two photon
microscopy, nanotechnology for drug delivery and pharmacoepidemiological
techniques for assessment of the safety of medicines in mental health disorders.
Research into basic mechanisms includes the study of neocortical and hippocampal microcircuitry with a specific emphasis on inhibitory neurotransmission; the presynaptic control of neurotransmitter release; dendritic information processing; mechanisms governing synapse formation; receptor and ion channel trafficking and clustering at synapses and transport processes that govern subcellular compartmentalisation of organelles, specifically mitochondria. These research areas are applied to understanding their significance in causal and pathogenic mechanisms resulting in epilepsy, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Gaucher’s Disease, Niemann Pick Type C Disease and neurodevelopmental disorders.
The Neuroscience in Health and Disease Research Cluster has representation on the UCL Neuroscience Steering Committee. Many of the cluster members have established collaborations within the wider UCL neuroscience community including direct involvement with the organization of the Annual UCL Neuroscience Symposium and as the Chair of the UCL Early Careers in Neuroscience Committee.
Internal and external collaborations and associations will be enhanced by upcoming activities which include the 2014 Neuroscience in Health and Disease Retreat to be held in May. An Outreach event will also be held during Brain Awareness Week in March 2014 to promote careers in neuroscience and pharmacy to A level students from local schools and, the well established UCL School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacology seminar series
Research within the cluster is currently supported by major funding from Action Medical Research, Alzheimer’s Research UK, the BBSRC, the MRC, European Commission, European Research Council (ERC), Parkinson’s UK, The Leverhulme Trust and the UK Gauchers Association. The Wellcome Trust supports the neuroscience imaging facility.