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Research

The Center for Innovation in Brain Science mission is a collaborative, enabling research environment in which innovation is fostered and developed to address a challenge that have global proportions and individual significance: age-related neurodegenerative diseases.

The prevailing paradigm in academic-based therapeutic development is built upon the “bench to bedside” approach, where a discovery in the laboratory is followed by a search for a potential disease application.

Our approach is different.

Our Focus Areas

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Alzheimer’s

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Parkinson’s Disease (PD)

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Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Our Approach is different

By reversing the discovery process and beginning at the bedside and moving to the bench, we are creating a highly personalized approach to discovery of mechanisms and therapeutic targets of opportunity.

Age remains the greatest risk factor for neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis and ALS. A critical factor in age-associated vulnerability to disease is that aging occurs at the systems level, which makes single target, single molecule strategies unlikely successful therapeutic solutions.

Using a deep, broad reservoir of expertise, from basic science to translational neuroscience, we are elevating team science and enabling rich collaborations. Age-associated neurodegenerative diseases are multifactorial, complex and dynamic. As the disease progresses, so do pathways that are activated and the multiple systems of biology that interact.

While complex, the etiologies share a number of common features, emergence during aging, a prodromal phase, beginning in late midlife, genetic predispositions, gender differences in prevalence, and an energy crisis in the brain.

The Center for Innovation in Brain Science is uniting neuroscience across disciplines around a common cause while filling a critical gap in translational neuroscience, bringing together the expertise of clinicians and scientists across the spectrum of clinical, informatics, translational, computational modeling and basic neurosciences.

We are a unique hub for research knowledge, technologies, computational resources and integrative collaborations to develop therapeutics for age-related neurodegenerative diseases.

A UNIQUE BIOTECH ECOSYSTEM IN ACADEMIA: Advancing science to develop a rich therapeutic pipeline.

The Center for Innovation in Brain Science (CIBS) at the University of Arizona is using its expertise in translational neuroscience to discover and develop novel therapeutics that address serious unmet medical needs and change the outcome for millions of people and their families living with debilitating neurodegenerative diseases.

The center is rapidly advancing programs across a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis and ALS. The CIBS collaborative research model integrates discovery, translational and clinical science that enables it to validate targets and generate novel therapeutic candidates selective for proteins that play critical roles in neurodegenerative disease pathways.

We welcome inquiries regarding partnerships.

Cutting-edge behavioral tools

CIBS is combining cutting-edge behavioral tools to simulate the influence of environmental factors on genetic risks to create novel disease models. Already serving the researchers within CIBS to screen genetic models, we’re seeking out collaborators on campus and beyond to determine common mechanisms between neurodegeneration and other diseases.

With deep expertise in high-throughput behavioral research, the neurobehavioral core at CIBS focuses on cognitive neurobehavioral tests, non-invasive sleep measures, and high-speed gait analyses. We also maintain a focused interest on impaired sleep as it contributes to neurodegenerative diseases and may be used to potentially screen at-risk individuals. Our team has developed a strong phenotyping core that provides CIBS researchers with sensitive, high-throughput tasks such as:

  • Open Field: wherein the natural movement of animals is recorded via overhead camera tracking. Mobile and immobile episodes are classified, head movement is discerned, and anxious behavior is quantified;
  • Novel Object Recognition: a classic memory task that takes advantage of an animal’s natural tendency to seek out and explore novelty;
  • EchoMRI: a quick, non-invasive scan to quantify lean and fat mass in awake, unanesthetised animals. Changes in diet and exercise have been shown to affect the percentage of lean and fat mass;
  • Gait analysis via Noldus CatWalk: where animals are recorded moving naturally in a walkway and pawprints are identified and analyzed to determine changes in footfall patterns and limb coupling. Impairments in motor coordination are easily detected with this apparatus;
  • Sleep cages: a non-invasive method for monitoring animals’ natural circadian and sleep patterns via piezoelectric pads. Novel additions to these cages also allow selective sleep disruption to simulate environmental disturbance;
  • Infrared Body Temperature: a quick, simple, and non-invasive method of checking body temperature. Body temperature and thermoregulation has been found to be altered with sleep disturbances, neurodegeneration, and inflammation;

Other available testing includes glucose testing, rotarod, radial arm maze, and Barnes maze.

Within the core, sensitive, high-throughput testing has been streamlined in order, not only to detect subtle changes in longitudinal health but also small variations between strains. With our naturalistic neurobehavioral tasks, we hope to be able to isolate the contributing effect that environmental factors, such as stress and sleep disturbances, have on converting genetic risk factors, such as APOE4 and GBA, into pathology.

To learn more about potential collaborations, contact our Neurobehavioral Core.

Are you ready to lead the next generation of neuroscience research?

We are recruiting predoctoral PhD and MD/PhD trainees across multiple scientific disciplines and employing problem-based learning approaches to solve challenges in AD therapeutic development with emerging tools and techniques. Through these training programs, trainees gain important development and leadership skills necessary to conduct team science and manage multidisciplinary teams in the 21st century.

This program is aligned with the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), with the goal of filling critical gaps that exist for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) translational research in academic graduate programs.

To apply for a position, please complete the form. Click here

Trainees have the opportunity to develop deep translational research expertise necessary for therapeutic development and:

> cultivate the ability to creatively and collaboratively solve problems working with experts across the translational landscape as part of large-scale team science;

> gain an applied understanding of how data science, particularly using data generated by AMP-AD, M2OVE-AD and ADNI, can accelerate translational research and provide avenues to novel therapeutic insights;

> connect genotypic and phenotypic variations and multi-faceted etiology of AD to therapeutic targets;

> acquire essential professional and business skills to navigate a diverse funding landscape and translate discoveries into the clinical setting.

The Center for Innovation in Brain Science (CIBS) at the University of Arizona is addressing the challenge that, in the 21st century, there is not a single cure for a single neurodegenerative disease and is focused on four age-associated neurodegenerative diseases: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis and ALS.

© 2021 Center for Innovation Brain Science. University of Arizona Health Sciences.