Stockholm Brain Institute
|Coordinator||Karolinska institutet - Stockholm Brain Institute|
|Funding from Vinnova||SEK 30 000 000|
|Project duration||January 2009 - December 2011|
Purpose and goal
Brain disorders, leading to cognitive dysfunctions, account for more than one third of the burden of all diseases in Europe. Cognitive brain disorders can appear during the whole life span: e.g. autism and ADHD in childhood, schizophrenia in young adults, and Alzheimers and Parkinsons diseases in the elderly. Yet, we lack effective means to prevent or cure these diseases. The present challenge is to understand the neurobiological basis for cognitive func-tions in the healthy and diseased human brain. Cognitive neuroscience is a rapidly develop¬ing field with direct implications for health care and lifelong learning. The objective for Stockholm Brain Institute (SBI) is to apply a systems neurobiology approach to higher brain functions; from genes, cells and neural networks to cognitive functions and behaviour. This comprehensive approach requires a broad set of skills extending from neurobiology and neuroimaging to psychology and clinical epidemiology. In addition, mathematical modelling is required in order to achieve a coherent understanding, in which numerous factors vary independently. In collabo¬ration with industrial partners from the biomedical and biotechnical industry, and with public partners in health care and education, the new knowledge will be used to develop biomarkers to detect and follow disease processes, as well as to develop new programmes for prevention, intervention and learning.
Expected results and effects
Establish a leading brain research centre in Europe with a unique combination of cognitive and computational neuroscientists. Develop state-of-the art method platforms including both equipment and human capital for i) brain imaging, ii) mathematical modelling/simulation and iii) translational behavioural neuroscience platform. Develop projects in which the unique registers in Sweden (e.g., Twin register, BETULA, information from patient records) are used in combination with the method platforms. Initiate several new multidisciplinary research projects in which biological and medical research is com¬bined with mathematical modelling and simulation. Initiate several new translational medical research projects in which basic and clinical sciences are integrated in order to bring research results from the laboratory into clinical practise. Initiate translational pedagogical research projects in which cognitive research results are implemented into new pedagogical principles. Attract internationally leading researchers, i.e., create an attractive academic environment, a strong infrastructure and funding to recruit junior and senior scientists. Initiate several collaborative research projects between academia and industry, in order to promote innovative development. Develop the SBI Research School (within the VINNPRO programme) in collaboration with our industrial partners with a curriculum that involves courses of innovation and entrepreneurship, joint projects, and joint academic and industrial advisers. Enhance the collaboration with the non-academic partners including development of the method platforms, joint research projects and joint PhD students and postdocs. Extend the collaboration to i) new industrial and ii) public partners, and to iii) new academic centres in Sweden and worldwide. Translate the research results into practical use by means of i) collaboration with public partners (health care, technological and educational system), ii) new companies developed in collaboration with Karolinska Innovation AB, iii) collaboration with industrial partners.
Planned approach and implementation
SBI focuses on three specific cognitive functions: Learning and memory i) define brain networks of learning, ii) define biomarkers for cognitive dysfunc-tions throughout the lifespan and iii) unravel the dopamine modulation of working memory and long-term memory. Emotions i) define the role of cortical regulation of emotion in health and disease. Perception Action i) elucidate the neural mechanisms responsible for selection and planning of movements, and ii) mechanisms involved in motor learning and training. We plan to explore the whole series of processes, from gene expression, to proteins involved in signalling, to activity in specific anatomical neural circuits, and finally to functional per-formance and behaviour, e.g. from ion channels to behaviour. Experimentally derived data will be used to develop bio-realistic models. The models will include inter-individual varia¬tions of normal functioning. In addition to normal functioning, the three cognitive functions will be studied from three dif-ferent perspectives: Development, aging and neural plasticity i) investigate how biomarkers for the various cognitive and motor functions typi-cally develop in childhood and ii) deteriorate during aging, and iii) analyse plastic changes in neural networks with respect to development, training and pharma-cological treatment Gender and sexual differences i) investigate the neural basis of sexual differences in these cognitive functions, and ii) sex differences in prevalence and symptoms of psychiatric disorders Cognitive dysfunctions i) explore the mechanisms underlying the malfunction of cognitive functioning in ADHD, schizophrenia and dementia, ii) identify early predictors (biomarkers) for people with high risk to develop dementia, iii) develop new cognitive training pro-grammes for people with cognitive dysfunctions Based on the research and an increased understanding of these cognitive functions SBI will, in collaboration with our external partners develop new methods for assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. The ultimate goal is to transfer these research results into useful commodities for the society.