Division of Neuroscience

Dr. Lyn Jakeman
Lyn Jakeman, Ph.D.
Associate Director of the Division of Neuroscience
The Division of Neuroscience (DON) plans and directs a program of extramural and collaborative research in neuroscience, guiding NINDS’ largest research portfolio and charting the future of a vibrant, growing neuroscience research community. The mission of the DON is to support extramural research aimed at understanding fundamental mechanisms of development, structure, and function of the nervous system in health and disease. Basic research to understand the structure and function of the normal nervous system is a critically important sustaining component of the DON research portfolio. DON also supports research to identify therapeutic targets and test pharmaceutical, biologic and device-based interventions for clinical application in neurological disorders and stroke. 
The DON contributes to the NINDS mission by awarding research grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts to academic, non-profit, and industry researchers and by supporting conferences and training at all career levels. DON program staff provide guidance and resources for investigators and research teams and collaborate with other NINDS Divisions, NIH Institutes, government and private agencies and organizations, and patient-oriented groups to optimize research outcomes.

Immediate Office

The Office of the Associate Director supports the strategic goals and objectives of the Division of Neuroscience, working with Divisions and Offices across the NIH to advance the research programs within the NINDS mission.  It also oversees the functions and work products of eight teams (“clusters”) of program staff organized by scientific research area, ensuring smooth operations and developing forward-looking extramural programs and initiatives.


The Division of Neuroscience directs and coordinates the activities of the following clusters. 

Channels, Synapses, & Circuits (CSC)
Channels, synapses, and neural circuits are fundamental structural and functional elements of the nervous system. The major goals of this cluster are to support: 1) basic research on the physiological and pathological roles of channels, receptors, transporters, synapses, and neural circuits; 2) basic research to understand the development, plasticity, and vulnerability of synapses and circuits; 3) research on the disease mechanisms and interventions for the epilepsies; 4) basic and clinical research related to myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and fatigue; and 5) translational research that links the discoveries from the basic research into medication development and therapeutic interventions for treating neurological disorders, such as epilepsy. Supported topics include: neural circuit analysis, synaptic transmission, synaptic plasticity, structural analysis of neuronal membrane proteins, channelopathies, and epilepsy. Meet the CSC team.

Movement Disorders and Neurodegeneration (MDN)
The MDN cluster manages a broad range of preclinical and clinical research on movement disorders including synucleinopathies (Parkinson’s disease, Lewy Body dementias, multiple system atrophy), dystonia, and essential tremor. Supported preclinical research focuses on elucidation of abnormal neurobiological processes, including the role of genetic and environmental factors, underlying neural dysfunction, circuit alteration and degeneration in these conditions.  MDN also supports research in human genetic, epidemiologic, and biomarker studies to facilitate understanding of and improved therapy development for movement disorders. MDN staff manage NINDS-wide resources including the NINDS biospecimen (BioSEND) and cell (NHCDR) repositories, the NINDS Parkinson’s Disease Biomarkers Program (PDBP) and associated Data Management Resource (DMR) repository, and data science resources. Meet the MDN team.

Neural Environment (NET)
Neurological disorders may result when extra-neuronal cells are compromised; when extra-neuronal cells themselves become aggressors; when cells of the nervous system become cancerous and form tumors; when viruses, bacteria, or parasites infect the cells of the nervous system; when autoimmune responses damage nerve and muscle; or when cells of the blood-brain barrier are dysfunctional. Glial cells, microvascular endothelia, and cells of hematopoietic origin are integrally involved in the normal development and/or functioning of the nervous system and play a crucial role in disease. The major goals of this cluster are to support research on the interactions among these cell types to increase our understanding of how the nervous system works in normal and diseased states. Supported topics include: neuroimmunology, neurovirology, neural vascular biology, the blood brain barrier, stroke, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, neuro-AIDS and neuroinfectious diseases, prion diseases, and CNS infections. Meet the NET team.

Neurodegeneration, Dementia, and Repeat Expansion Disorders (NDR)
The major goals of this cluster are to support research on juvenile- and adult-onset neurodegenerative disorders to identify neurobiological processes that, when disrupted, play a role in neuronal dysfunction, circuit alteration, and degeneration, as well as management of the NIH NeuroBioBank, a large-scale, centralized resource of human post-mortem brain tissue and related biospecimens to catalyze research on conditions of the nervous system.  Supported topics include: contributions of neurons as well as non-neuronal cells and systems, such as the vasculature and neuromuscular junction, to the biology of neurodegeneration; neuronal cell death; protein misfolding and aggregation; RNA and protein processing; mitochondrial dysfunction; and calcium homeostasis. Meet the NDR team

Neurogenetics (NGN)
The major goals of this cluster are to understand the role of genetics and genomics in normal development and function of neurons and glia; clarify how genetic mutations impact neurological function; and develop treatments for various neurodevelopmental, neuromuscular, metabolic, and rare diseases and disorders. Supported topics include: genetics and genomics of normal neural development and neurological diseases; basic, translational and clinical research in rare neurological, neurodevelopmental, metabolic, and neuromuscular disorders; gene expression, proteomics, and metabolomics; gene therapy and gene delivery; molecular basis of neurodevelopment (including neurogenesis and cell fate determination, cell migration, axonal guidance and neurotrophic signaling); and glia biology. Meet the NGN team.

Neurotechnology & Integrated Systems (NIS)
The NIS Cluster oversees programs related to structure and function of the cells and circuits of the brain as a basis for understanding behavior. The BRAIN Initiative began in 2014 to accelerate development and application of innovative neurotechnologies and lead to new ways to treat and prevent brain disorders.  The major goals of this cluster are to manage research projects funded by the BRAIN Initiative, focusing on the development and dissemination of technologies for mapping brain circuits, monitoring and manipulating their activity, and understanding their contributions to complex behaviors. Meet the NIS team.

Repair & Plasticity (R&P)
The major goals of this cluster are to support: 1) efforts to understand mechanisms of plasticity, endogenous neurogenesis, and stem and progenitor cell biology in the development, maintenance, and repair of the nervous system; 2) research that focuses on the course of degeneration and repair following injury to the nervous system (including spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury) and on strategies and interventions to improve functional outcomes; and 3) development of neural interface devices designed to monitor activity and restore function after neurological injury or disease. Supported research topics include: spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and associated research on the recovery of function; plasticity of the nervous system; neural circuits that underlie specific behaviors; repair of the nervous system in injury and disease; stem cell biology; neural prosthesis, neural engineering, and other means of repairing the nervous system due to injury or disease. Meet the R&P team

Systems & Cognitive Neuroscience (SCN)
The major goals of this cluster are to support research focused on the integrated functioning of neural circuits and systems that support higher brain functions. Supported topics include complex behavioral phenomena such as learning, memory, attention, language, cognition, sensation, and perception; motor control and complex behaviors; homeostatic regulation of cyclic and appetitive behaviors such as sleep, activity, feeding, and drinking; analysis of neural circuits and systems; peripheral and central mechanisms of pain, pain perception, and development of strategies to alleviate chronic pain. Meet the SCN team.