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Affinity Group Summary

The ultimate goal is to more fully understand the role of the immune system in CNS disease and behavior, and how the immune system can be manipulated to improve disease outcomes. The affinity group is intended to provide a venue to expose to other scientist ongoing and new projects at UCLA in this area, to foster collaborations, and to bring in outside speakers. An eventual goal of the group is to develop multi-investigator and training grants, establish cores, and develop a southern California network. A collateral benefit of this group is that it will provide better training in immunology for students, residents, postdoctoral fellows and faculty at UCLA.
Immunology and neuroscience are both highly complex disciplines, with many subspecialties, and have only occasionally been brought closely together, such as in the study of multiple sclerosis. Yet, the importance of the immune system is becoming increasingly realized in nearly all areas of neuroscience, including stroke, CNS trauma, neurodegenerative and white matter diseases, brain tumors, and neural cell transplantation. Moreover, mounting evidence suggests that the immune system plays roles in autism, schizophrenia, cognition, sleep, circadian rhythms, and the reward system. Thus, several investigators at UCLA have expressed interest in gaining the tools to understand how the immune system impacts the particular processes they study. Because the links between the immune system and many problems in neuroscience are only beginning to be explored, it will be beneficial for scientists to come together and exchange ideas, and develop collaborations.
This group will coordinate with other groups at UCLA, including the Cousins Center, Neural Repair Group, Mental Retardation Research Center, and the Multiple Sclerosis Program, and Centers for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Autism. We will also coordinate and interact with interested scientists at Cedars Sinai. Current plans are for the group to meet twice a month, once as a part of the Neural Repair group, and once separately. The "separate" meetings will be very informal, and may include multiple short talks by investigators or full seminars. We plan to hold one half day event, in which all investigators will be encouraged to display posters, and will also include one invited outside speaker.

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