Tom Insel, Director, NIMH, with awardees of Inscopix's DECODE Grant Program
(Harvard/MGH's Amar Sahay, PhD, fifth from left)
Ten scientists granted $2 million by neuroscience startup to study brain disease
Amar Sahay, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, was one of ten scientists to receive the first DECODE (Deciphering Circuit Basis of Disease) grants awarded by California-based, neuroscience startup Inscopix, Inc. The awards, which total $2 million, were launched to support the President's BRAIN Initiative and accelerate the discovery of neural circuit based signatures of brain disease.
Sahay, a Harvard Medical School assistant professor at the Center for Regenerative Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, will use the award to better understand how the growth of new neurons in the area of the brain associated with memory modulates cognition and mood.
"The DECODE grant will enable us to link adult hippocampal neurogenesis with activity patterns of distinct populations of neurons and specific behaviors," said Sahay. "These efforts may illuminate how we form new memories and how they affect perception of threat in anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)."
According to Inscopix, the DECODE portfolio is eclectic with awardees investigating the neural circuit basis of diverse brain disorders such as autism, obesity, PTSD, and ALS.
"What is the language of the brain and how do we begin to decode that, is probably the challenge of the century," said National Institute of Mental Health Director Thomas Insel, MD, at the announcement on November 18. He praised the award for providing the equipment to to "the best and the brightest scientists with really cool ideas."
In addition to Sahay, awardees included Alex Kwan of Yale University; Mark Bear of MIT; Francesco Battaglia and Nael Nadif Kasri of the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour at Radboud University in the Netherlands; Garrett Stuber of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Alexxai Kravitz of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; Mario Capecchi of the University of Utah; Michael Bruchas and Robert Gereau of Washington University in St. Louis; Richard Mooney of Duke University; Richard Palmiter of the University of Washington; and Thomas Jessell of Columbia University.
This story is adapted from an Inscopix, Inc. press release.