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Funding News - Research on Plasticity of Human Stem Cells in the Nervous System Sought

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The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) invite applications for research on plasticity and behavior of human stem cells and regulation of their replication, differentiation, and function in the nervous system.*

Stem cell research offers enormous potential for treating a host of congenital, developmental, psychiatric, and degenerative diseases for which there are no cures. Researchers report that stem cells present in adult, non-neuronal tissues also appear to show surprising plasticity or versatility. Before therapies can be designed using human stem cells, there must be an understanding of how "plastic" or malleable the different classes of cells are, the environmental cues that drive their choice of fates, and how reversible the fates are.

Examples of potential areas of research interest include studies to: compare the mitotic potential and fates of different types of human stem and progenitor cells in vitro and in vivo in the central nervous system (CNS); determine the functional properties of human progenitor cells implanted during progressive developmental stages of the host CNS, and with aging; compare the behavior of human stem cells with that of their non-human counterparts in vitro and in vivo; investigate the ability of different human stem cells to revert to a more plastic, multipotent state, under normal conditions and following injury; examine changes in gene and protein expression as human stem and progenitor cells differentiate along specific neuronal and glial lineages; develop assays and markers that permit accurate and reliable characterization of the state of differentiation of human stem or neural precursor cells; use animal model systems of neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders for screening and comparing the functional capabilities of implanted human stem cells and their progeny; and assess the behavior of host cells in response to the short-term and long-term presence of transplanted human stem cells and/or their derivatives.

For more information, potential applicants should contact Repair and Plasticity Cluster, NINDS, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 2206, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-9525; telephone: 301-496-1447; fax: 301-480-1080; email: funding@ninds.nih.gov.

*For a more detailed description of this program announcement, please visit the NIH web site at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-02-025.html.