Many people consider the human brain to be the last frontier of biomedical research. To understand how it functions both normally and in disease, we need the combined efforts of talented researchers from a broad spectrum of the biological, behavioral and physical sciences.
Neuroscience has a long and rich history at the NIH, which dates back to the establishment of the National Institute of Mental Health in 1949 and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in 1950. As one of the largest and most diverse programs of its kind in the world, neuroscience research in the Intramural Research Program (IRP) encompasses 200 Principal Investigators, 650 postdoctoral fellows, and 100 graduate students conducting basic, behavioral, translational, and clinical research in over 150 laboratories at 12 NIH Institutes and Centers.
IRP research covers such varied areas as the biology of the neuron; biophysics of ion channels and receptors; neurodegeneration, neural development and plasticity; behavioral neuroscience; as well as clinical programs on neurodegenerative disorders, stroke, schizophrenia, mood and anxiety disorders, autism, therapies for substance abuse, and treatment of chronic pain.
In recent years, IRP researchers have:
- Identified three of the six known genetic mutations associated with Parkinson’s disease
- Advanced the use of daclizumab as a possible treatment for multiple sclerosis
- Enabled routine imaging of human brain anatomy at very high resolution
- Pioneered a new field of “imaging genetics” to understand the molecular basis of schizophrenia
- Uncovered a mechanism by which the addictive drug, cocaine, interferes with neural progenitor cell proliferation
To learn more about the IRP researchers who are affiliated with our Neuroscience program, please visit the Neuroscience@NIH site.