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BRI Initiatives

From its inception, the BRI has been a major centripetal force for UCLA neuroscience. In 1998, one of the external reviewers of the Neuroscience Graduate Program noted the absence of “natural divisions such as clinical versus basic or molecular versus systems that fracture other neuroscience communities.” In large measure, UCLA’s culture of collegiality, the recognition of the benefits of cooperation, and the shared good will within the community are products of the BRI’s unifying role in this large and growing community.

The BRI’s particular contributions reflect its unique activities in three arenas.

Communication among neuroscientists, across disciplinary and departmental boundaries, is enhanced by the Joint Seminars in Neuroscience series, conferences and symposia, the annual Neuroscience Poster Day, Affinity Groups, and lectures throughout the year published in the BRI's "UCLA Neuroscience Research Seminars and Lectures" calendar.

The BRI enriches the research environment by providing research Core Facilities and facilitating collaborative research and learning through its center grants and program project grants.

Fostering educational programs that take advantage of UCLA’s broad neuroscience excellence, the BRI administers the Interdepartmental Graduate Program for Neuroscience and the Interdepartmental Undergraduate Program for Neuroscience, a number of training grant programs, postdoctoral programs, and Project Brainstorm, the K-12 science outreach program.

Snapshot of BRI Activities

The BRI has a rich past serving as an umbrella institute for neuroscience activities at UCLA. The Institute began its life in 1959 and has three major goals related to maintaining excellence in neuroscience education, research and outreach programs (specific functions can be found on the following page). The Institute has nearly 300 academic senate faculty members from 26 different departments throughout the UCLA community and includes members from the David Geffen School of Medicine, the College of Letters and Science, the School of Public Heath, The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Nursing, and the School of Dentistry. To execute the mission, the BRI functions explicitly as the interdisciplinary and non-departmental voice of the neuroscience community.

Research:
The BRI provides multiple mechanisms to invigorate research programs and nurture novel collaborations to bring together investigators from complementary fields. Such mechanisms include:

  • Organizational and fiscal support for a weekly neuroscience seminar series, meetings, program project and center grants, affinity groups, and departmental and BRI symposia. 
  • Facilitation of research technologies by support of three cores covering microscopic techniques, confocal microscopy and electron microscopy.
  • Faculty recruitment: The BRI participates in and supports faculty recruitment through BRI endowment funds and endowed Chairs, working collaboratively with departments. The BRI also helps organize and staff various search committees, and participates in space planning.
  • Oversight of the first three floors of the Gonda building (approximately 20,000 square feet of premium laboratory space). 
  • Organization of an Annual Neuroscience Poster Session on the heels of the SFN meeting to enhance intra-UCLA collaborations. The session usually has close to 200 posters and includes a lecture from a prominent neuroscientist.
  • The recent creation of several term chairs to enhance targeted areas of research that are cutting edge and generative for the community.
  • Communication of neuroscience-relevant information to the community.

Education:
The BRI is home to The Interdepartmental Ph.D. Program for Neuroscience (Neuroscience Graduate IDP) – the largest neuroscience graduate program at UCLA (http://www.neuroscience.ucla.edu). The goal of this program is to train students to be conversant in all levels of analysis used in neuroscience, from the molecular and cellular to the system levels, while specializing in their chosen field of research. Currently, the Neuroscience Graduate IDP comprises 95 doctoral students. On average, 15 new students enter the program every year. The BRI is also the administrative home for the undergraduate Neuroscience Program, encompassing approximately 380 Neuroscience majors, and for several postdoctoral and translational (K12 and K30) training programs – thereby co-coordinating a large proportion of neuroscience educational programs on campus. 

Outreach:
The BRI aims to extend scientific knowledge into the community and into elementary and secondary schools. We have a very active student program for local schools where UCLA students present at the schools or host students at the BRI. We also place high school students in BRI laboratories for hands-on research experience. In addition, the BRI supports community-based neuroscience seminars and symposia. This area of the BRI is targeted for expansion in future years. 

Snapshot Examples:

Research:

Multi-Investigator Research Grants submitted and administered through the BRI:

  • Laboratory of Neuromuscular Plasticity;
  • Plasticity of GABA Receptors;
  • Gene-Environment Studies in Parkinson’s Disease; 
  • Udall Center of Excellence for the Study of Parkinson’s Disease.

Core Facilities:

  • Carol Moss Spivak Cell Imaging Core;
  • Microscopic Techniques Core;
  • Electron Microscopy Core.

Joint Seminars in Neuroscience: ~28 guest lectures/year weekly.

Additional Neuroscience Lectures: ~20 special lectures/year.

Affinity Group Programs:
20 Affinity Groups & Associated Activities—meetings, seminars and conferences:

  • Addiction;
  • Alzheimer’s Disease;
  • Astrocyte Biology;
  • Autism;
  • Higher Cognitive Function;
  • Immunology in Neuroscience;
  • Inner Ear;
  • Learning, Memory, and Plasticity;
  • Neural Repair;
  • Neural Stem Cells;
  • Neurobiology of Drosophila/C-Elegans;
  • Neuroendocrinology;
  • Neuroengineering;
  • Neurogenetics;
  • Neuroscience History;
  • Parkinson’s;
  • Songbird Research;
  • Stress, Pain and Emotion;
  • Synapse to Circuit Club; and
  • Zebrafish

Symposia, Conferences, and Workshops
Samples include: Learning and Memory; Neural Control of Behavior; Center for Neurobiology of Stress; GABA-Mediated Inhibition in Normal Brain Function and Disease; Survival Skills in Science (2-day workshop); Autism Complex Trait Mini-Symposium; Cell Imaging and Specialized Microscopy Workshops; Technology Transfer Networking Forum.

Annual Poster Sessions: 
UCLA Neuroscience Poster Day and Distinguished Lecture;
Undergraduate Neuroscience Poster Session.

Calendars/ Newsletters/Reports/Website:
Annual BRI Calendar,
Bi-Weekly Neuroscience Calendar;
BRI Annual Report,
Quarterly Neuroscience Newsletter;
BRI website.

BRI Space and Recruitment: 
Programmatic space allocation and faculty recruitment for the Gonda building Neuroscience floors.

Neuroscience History Archives.

Education:

Interdepartmental Ph.D. Program for Neuroscience
Recruitment, admissions, curriculum, ARCS fellowship program coordination, course development, course assessment, course coordination, TA selection, student evaluation, student advising, student financial aid, mentor evaluation, faculty membership, website, publications, Annual Neuroscience Interdepartmental Ph.D. Program and NeuroEngineering Program Retreat, graduation, BRI endowment funding for first year students.

Undergraduate Neuroscience Interdepartmental Program
Oversight of staffing for Undergraduate Neuroscience Interdepartmental Program, IT support, and financial support for selected activities.

Neuroscience Training Grants submitted and administered through the BRI: 
Cellular Neurobiology
Interdepartmental Clinical Pharmacology (K12/T32)
Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology
Neural Repair
Neuroendocrinology, Sex Differences and Reproduction
Translational Investigation (K30)

Outreach:

Project Brainstorm, Interaxon Science Outreach Program and Brain Awareness Week
Graduate and Undergraduate Neuroscience Student Coordinated K-12 Outreach Programs, BRI Demonstrations and Tours.

BRI High School Research Placement Program
Placement of high school students in BRI laboratories.

BRI Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE)
This new program is a component of the Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology Training Grant.

General:

BRI Awards
Annual Eiduson Lecture Prize (pre doctoral award);
Mary Eva Kavan Prize for Excellence in Brain Research (pre doctoral award);
Travel Awards to the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (pre and post doctoral awards);
Fine Science Tools Postdoctoral Awards;
BRI Postdoctoral Lecture Award.

Coordination of UCLA Chapter for the Society for Neuroscience activities.
Endowments and Fundraising. 

The BRI channels funds from donors to faculty for research, teaching and administration. The BRI provides program support via an endowed Chair, three term chairs, two administrative chairs, scholarships, general endowment funds, and several funds for specific research areas.

 

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