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UCLA Snags $15M in Stimulus Funds to Build Interdisciplinary Neuropsychiatry Center

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California Los Angeles plans to use a $14.9 million stimulus grant to create a new interdisciplinary research center focused on the role of genetic and environmental factors in neuropsychiatric and behavioral disorders.

The Integrative Phenotyping Center for Neuropsychiatry will employ around 180 employees and it will be housed in a 33,000-square-foot space covering three renovated floors of the current Semel Institute tower, UCLA said on Thursday.

The IPCN will use the National Institutes of Health grant, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, for research on autism, attention deficit disorder, schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

“Our objectives include elucidating the interplay between the genetic and environmental elements that influence the risk for neuropsychiatric disease, eroding the ignorance that continues to stigmatize mental illness, and identifying and promoting those behaviors necessary to initiate a personalized approach to neuropsychiatric medicine and recovery,” Semel Institute Director Peter Whybrow said in a statement.

The Semel Institute includes a number of centers, including the Center for Neurobehavioral Genetics, which uses DNA sequencing, gene expression studies, bioinformatics, and the genetic manipulation of model organisms to understand brain and behavioral phenotypes. The IPCN will augment this and other Semel centers.

UCLA said that in order to harness the breakthroughs happening in genomic analysis technologies more comprehensive studies of phenotypes will be necessary.

“To that end, the IPCN facility will enable large-scale phenotyping studies, including studies of personality, cognition, and brain activity and structure, will promote the training of new investigators in these techniques,” UCLA said.

The IPCN center is currently in the design phase, and it is expected to be under construction in 2011 and ready for occupancy in late 2012.

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