The Neuroscience training faculty are excellent and well-supported researchers and teachers. The group includes recipients of the National Institutes of Health Javits Awards for excellence in neuroscience, NIH Merit and Career Development Awardees, and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellows.

The training faculty are selected from four basic science and five clinical departments, Biochemistry/Biophysics/Genetics, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Pharmacology, Physiology, Radiology, Medicine, Neurology, and Psychiatry, carrying out their research in close collaboration with their graduate students and postdoctoral associates.

The Neuroscience faculty constitute a good balance of tenured and junior professors.

Research Areas

The Neuroscience Training Program at the University of Colorado provides multidisciplinary training covering the breadth of neurobiology, from neuronal gene regulation to the development, structure, and function of the nervous system. Students receive training in cellular and molecular neurobiology, neural development, neuropharmacology, and biochemistry, as well as hands-on training in a variety of state-of-the-art laboratory techniques.

The tremendous advances in molecular biology during the past few decades have greatly enhanced research in the neurosciences. Specific macromolecules important in neuronal function have been identified and characterized with increasing frequency. The mechanisms by which these molecules act, and the cellular controls over their genetic expression have begun to be elucidated. Our studies are concerned with all of these aspects of molecular neuroscience.

The brain shows a higher complexity in its RNA when compared to other organs. More unique sequence single copy DNA is transcribed and found associated with polysomes in brain than in any other tissue. The functional significance of this complexity is unknown. Many of these mRNAs occur less than one copy per every ten cells, suggesting a high degree of cellular specificity in neural gene expression. How neural gene expression is regulated is an area of active interest among our faculty.

In part neural genes are regulated in response to specific growth factors (e.g., nerve growth factor), hormones, and neurotransmitters. Although some of these molecules act by binding to cytoplasmic receptors, many of them act by binding to specific cell surface receptors, some of which are subsequently internalized as a complex, while others act by transmembrane signalling of their binding via membrane proteins coupled to GTP binding proteins or polyphosphoinositide--diacylglycerol generation. These signalling systems act to alter the activity of intracellular protein kinases, which act to influence gene transcription, ion channels, and neurotransmitter release and reception. The interaction of neurotransmitters and growth factors with their receptors, signal transduction mechanisms and the role of protein phosporylation in the function of specific neural proteins are a major focus of our research.

Recombinant DNA technology and gene cloning procedures are used routinely in many of these studies. The availability of a mouse brain genomic library and expression systems puts essentially every gene of interest within reach, and permits an analysis of gene expression and functional aspects of the gene product.

Faculty and Research Specializations