Welcome to the Department of Neuroscience

Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system. It is an interdisciplinary science that collaborates with other fields such as chemistry, computer science, engineering, linguistics, mathematics, medicine and allied disciplines, philosophy, physics, and psychology.  The Department of Neuroscience is committed to providing excellence in research, education, and public service.

The Department of Neuroscience is part of the University of Minnesota's Medical School. The Medical School and related healthcare professional schools are grouped under the Academic Health Center.

Department of Neuroscience News

Neuroscientist takes the path less charted

In the world of brain research, it's been all about neurons--those electrically excitable cells that process information--for the past 100 years. But a few lone wolves are more intrigued by the brain's "glial cells," so named for the 19th century belief that these non-neuron brain cells were simply the "glue" that held everything else together.

Alfonson Araque, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Neuroscience and holder of the Robert and Elaine Larson Neuroscience Research Chair, is one of those investigators taking the path less charted; one who believes that solutions for brain diseases could lie in the shadowy world of the glia.

"We do know that glial cells are more important than once thought," says Araque, who came to the University last fall from Madrid's prestigious Cajal Institute.  He has already shown that astrocytes, a type of glial cell, regulate how neurons communicate with one another.  Now he's working on defining the properties of that communication.

"When something goes wrong, is it becasue the glial cells are not functioning properly?  Once we fully understand the role of those cells, it may bring us new understanding of how brain diseases develop," he says, "and how to treat them."

"I'm very optimistic about the future," says Dr. Araque.  "I believe we've opened a door that will lead us to new understanding of how the brain functions and, ultimately, to treat or even cure serious brain diseases."

(Taken from Neurosciences News, Fall 2014, p. 4, published by the UM Foundation)

Neuroscience Faculty join MS Wall of Scholarship

Congratulations to Drs. Sylvain Lesne, Apostolos Georgopoulos and George Wilcox, recent inductees into the Medical School Wall of Scholarship.

The Medical School Wall of Scholarship highlights the work of current faculty members with a primary appointment in our Medical School who have first or last author credits on a publication that has been cited at least 1000 times by two of three citation indices.

It is located on the 2nd Floor of the Phillips-Wangensteen Building near Freshii and the Bio-Medical Library.  See: http://med.umn.edu/medical-research/WallofScholarship/ for more information.

 

Neuromodulation Laboratory to Open

A new nonsurgical brain modulation laboratory will open this fall on the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus. This state-of-the-art MnDRIVE laboratory will support research on noninvasive forms of neuromodulation —a collection of therapies that stimulate or inhibit brain activity to treat nervous and psychiatric disorders without the need for surgery. The lab, located at 717 Delaware St. SE in Minneapolis, is funded by the MnDRIVE Brain Conditions core research area and the Institute for Engineering in Medicine.

 

Recent Publications

A Araque, Structural and Functional Plasticity of Astrocyte Processes and Dendritic Spine Interactions. In: Journal of Neuroscience, September 17, 2014 • 34(38):12738 –12744.

 

Kudos to Nathalia Torres!

Nathalia Torres, a second year graduate student in our Neuroscience Graduate Program,  recently won an NRSA award from NIMH for her studies on “The PERG of Schizophrenia” ; she was the only second year student to win an NRSA application in the program. Kudos to Nathalia!