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Important step for brain research

Press release issued: 28 November 2001

Important step for brain research

A multi-million-pound research centre aimed at understanding how the human brain stores information will be officially launched at the University of Bristol on Wednesday November 28. One focus of the Centre's work is the molecular basis of learning and memory. The work is also crucial to our understanding of epilepsy, dementia and schizophrenia as well as certain drug addictions.

The MRC Centre for Synaptic Plasticity is a joint venture between the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the University. It is based principally in the University's School of Medical Sciences, which contains one of the largest neuroscience communities in Europe.

The MRC has invested approximately £10 million in the work of the Centre's researchers over the past two-and-a-half years, which represents a variety of interdisciplinary programmes for specific projects which will run over the next few years. Now most of the scientists involved will be able to work together in state-of-the-art laboratories funded by the Wellcome Trust and the University itself. The new Centre will also include staff from the Bristol Royal Infirmary and Frenchay Hospital.

Professor Graham Collingridge FRS, Director of the Centre, said: "Synaptic plasticity is the major process that enables the brain to store information. It's one of the fundamental biological mechanisms that determines who we are.

"Understanding this mechanism is essential to our understanding of many conditions from depression to Alzheimer's and from strokes to jet lag."

Sir George Radda, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council, who will perform the opening of the Centre, said: "Understanding brain function in terms of memory and learning is vital if we are to unravel how these fundamental processes can break down and cause ill health. Under the direction of Graham Collingridge, a world leader in this field, the Centre's exciting and innovative research programme brings together top scientists across a wide range of disciplines to address these issues."

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Copyright: 2001 The University of Bristol, UK
Updated: Wednesday, 28-Nov-2001 17:46:37 GMT

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