Pittsburgh project to pave way for technology to revolutionize treatment of fatal brain diseases 

September 28, 2022 – A collaborative group of neuroscientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Carnegie Mellon University received a $6.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechologies® (BRAIN) Initiative to create an ultra-high resolution molecular atlas of the brain and develop brain cell type-specific strategies for effective and precise gene delivery.  

The research will leverage genetic information resolved with single-cell precision to establish a comprehensive database of cell types and neural circuits comprising the brain’s cognitive and reward systems. In combination with ultra-high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the researchers intend to build brain atlases of marmosets and macaque monkeys and make them available to other neuroscientists across the world, free of charge. 

The recently launched BioForge Initiative, backed by Pitt Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences, Anantha Shekhar, M.D., Ph.D., will be used to advance the wide-scale production and commercialization of the gene delivery vectors identified with the grant support. 

The BRAIN Initiative® was announced in 2013 to deepen understanding of the inner workings of the human mind and over the years has grown to prioritize the expansion of molecular cell-type profiling and data analysis, enabling genetic and non-genetic access to cell types across multiple species. The multi-year NIH grant was awarded as part of the Armamentarium for Precision Brain Cell Access, a large-scale NIH BRAIN Initiative project. 

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