The uOBMRI will undertake a number of initiatives related to neural dynamics, including:
The uOBMRI has supported the efforts of local researchers to increase our capacity to perform optogenetic studies in Ottawa. Optogenetics is an exciting technology that allows researchers to study the function and outcomes of very specific, defined events in cells and even networks by introducing “light-responsive” genes into them. These genes will only become activated in the presence of a specific type of light. The light can then be used to turn on or off the neurons that express the light-sensitive genes in brain tissue slices or in the brain of living animals. The latter allows us to investigate what happens to behaviour when they are activated versus when they are silent. This allows us to study how each cell, or group of cells, functions and how the entire network responds to this activation. In the context of the brain, this enhances our ability to investigate how the mechanics of the system’s wiring is built, how it is altered in disease, and how this can affect health outcomes. This exciting work is underway and is currently being used for depression and anxiety related studies.
Protect and Repair initiative (PandR)
The Protect and Repair initiative will partner researchers who have expertise in networking with disease-oriented researchers in order to address the following questions:
- Do new-born neurons in adults integrate into circuits following disease insult, and are these newly connected networks functional?
- What are the networking changes in animal models and human patients suffering from stroke, Parkinson's and depression, and can they be modulated by therapeutic recovery strategies such as antidepressants, exercise and deep brain stimulation?