Mar 07, 2021  
Catalog/Bulletin 2020-2021 
Catalog/Bulletin 2020-2021

Neuroscience Center of Excellence

(Approved by the Board of Regents, 1989)
Nicolas G. Bazan, MD, PhD, Director

The Neuroscience Center of Excellence is dedicated to the study of the fundamental principles of brain, retina and nerve function, and to contribute to understanding and conquering diseases of the nervous system. The Neuroscience Center is comprised of 15 teams led by independent faculty members who focus their research on cellular and molecular neuroscience, including the neurobiology of disease and translational neuroscience. All faculty members have joint appointments in clinical and basic science departments. The Center also hosts fellows, residents and faculty from several clinical departments, as well as from local hospitals, fostering effective interdisciplinary research.

The Center is dedicated to providing innovative, educational and mentoring programs, such as the Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Graduate Program (Ph.D. in Neuroscience, M.D./Ph.D. degree program), which attracts outstanding students from around the world; the Summer Undergraduate Neuroscience Program, which mentors top Louisiana undergraduate students through lectures and hands-on research; and postdoctoral fellowships for training the next generation of investigators. A neuroscience retreat is a forum for the showcasing of neuroscience investigation and discovery and has been the birthplace of countless research collaborations. Several seminar programs and lectureships host renowned scientists (including 16 Nobel Laureates), who present their work to the LSUHSC community. In addition, the Center has a keen interest in mentoring junior faculty members, helping develop them into independent, competitive scientists. Teams of neuroscience mentors guide junior investigators along the path to acquiring their own independently-funded research with the goal of strengthening the quality of neuroscience research in Louisiana. Over the last several years, the Center has also developed a successful grantsmanship education and research enhancement program.

The Center has received significant federal, state and private research funding. Currently, Center investigators have 15 active NIH R01 , 5 NIH R21,1NIH F30 and one NIH R03 grants. Other NIH grants include collaborations with  the University of Southern California, Cornell University School of Medicine, University of California-Davis, and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.  

Projects are directed toward discovering novel disease mechanisms for stroke, traumatic brain injury, blinding eye diseases, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, deafness and other disorders of the nervous system. Specific faculty research interests include: significance of the hippocampus in the pathophysiology of obesity and diabetes, role of nerves in diabetic wound healing, targeting inflammation/immune response (including the cytokine storm in brain, lung, nasal mucosa, eye and other organs in COVID-19), cellular and molecular mechanisms of corneal inflammation, nerve regeneration and wound healing, dry eye, retinal pigment epithelium/photoreceptor interactions, neuroprotection, neurobehavior and histopathology, nonlinear dynamics of single neurons and networks, neuroinflammation, hippocampal synaptic plasticity, neurodegeneration, synaptic transmission and signaling, mediator lipidomics, proteomics and biochemical approaches for understanding mechanisms of memory and neural disorders, genomics, bioinformatics, and developmental plasticity. One major program is supported by the Ernest C. and Yvette C. Villere Endowed Chair for Retinal Degeneration Research and is focused on retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.

In addition, the Neuroscience Center participates in translational research programs to bring the innovative research conducted here in the lab to the clinic, providing new therapies and treatments for nervous system injuries and diseases. Three startup pharma/biotech companies evolved from discoveries made at the Neuroscience Center. To date, the innovative research and findings conducted here has resulted in more than 100 patents or patent applications. The Neuroscience Center continues to play a pivotal role in developing pioneering approaches to understanding the mechanisms of disease and advancing treatment for disorders of the brain and retina.