MRC Centre for Synaptic Plasticity

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Anatomy

Abstract

The work of the MRC Centre for Synaptic Plasticity is aimed at obtaining a fuller understanding of how synapses work. Information is stored in our brains by alterations in the efficiency of communication at synapses and the MRC Centre is interested in understanding the molecular processes involved in this plasticity. Thus synaptic plasticity is critical for the correct wiring of the brain during development and enables learning and memory to occur throughout life. Pathological alterations in these mechanisms are likely to contribute to neurological and psychiatric disease. We work to understand the processes that underlie these plasticity mechanisms and how they relate to learning and memory.

The MRC Centre for Synaptic Plasticity is strongly committed to the public understanding of science. Indeed, its Director is a founder member of the European DANA Alliance for the Brain. MRC Centre scientists present public lectures, such as at the British Association, give talks in local schools and at open days, and communicate with the press on topical issues. The MRC Centre will continue to strongly support such activities. Members of the Centre also collaborate closely with Bristol Neuroscience (BN) in their public engagement activities, including providing and manning displays at events such as the biennial ?Science Alive? event (Bristol), Bioscience Kids (Glasgow) and Science in the Gardens (Sheffield). One researcher within the MRC Centre has been made a Fellow of the Researchers in Residence Scheme and is currently doing a placement with a local secondary school.

Technical Summary

The purpose of this grant is to enable the renewal of the MRC Centre for Synaptic Plasticity. The grant provides infrastructural support to facilitate the activities of the membership of the MRC Centre, which currently comprises a total of approximately 100 research scientists led by 21 independent principal investigators. The mission of the MRC Centre is to ?to advance our understanding of synaptic plasticity in a multidisciplinary and collaborative manner. Specifically, studies will be directed at a greater understanding of how, where and why the brain modifies synaptic strength during normal function (in particular, during learning and memory) and in certain pathological states.? The research is highly collaborative and multidisciplinary, and includes molecular biology, chemistry, synaptic physiology, pharmacology, systems level physiology and behaviour.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Industrial Collaborations 
Organisation Eli Lilly & Company Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution all research has been carried out by researchers employed by members of the Centre
Collaborator Contribution provision of antagonists/agonists, research support, loan of equipment
Impact multiple publications
 
Description Internal collaborations 
Organisation University of Bristol
Department School of Biochemistry Bristol
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The MRC Centre provides the environment that fosters collborations, both old and new, through organising meetings, seminars and symposia.
Collaborator Contribution collaborations that enhance the scope of research that it is posible to carry outcollaborations that enhance the scope of research that it is posible to carry out
Impact many publications, thoser from 2008 are: 18428512, 18606173, 18789344, 18423442, 18439404, 18793656, 18650332, 18356198, 18311157, 18619627, 18923032
Start Year 2008
 
Description Internal collaborations 
Organisation University of Bristol
Department School of Social and Community Medicine
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The MRC Centre provides the environment that fosters collborations, both old and new, through organising meetings, seminars and symposia.
Collaborator Contribution collaborations that enhance the scope of research that it is posible to carry outcollaborations that enhance the scope of research that it is posible to carry out
Impact many publications, thoser from 2008 are: 18428512, 18606173, 18789344, 18423442, 18439404, 18793656, 18650332, 18356198, 18311157, 18619627, 18923032
Start Year 2008
 
Title 3D animation of brain function 
Description An animation about brain structure and function was licensed for use by publishers Jones & Bartlett in online suplementary material associated with a text book "Learn Psychology". Animation was created by Dr Andrew Doherty, Scientific Officer for the MRC centre for Synaptic Plasticity. 
IP Reference  
Protection Copyrighted (e.g. software)
Year Protection Granted 2012
Licensed Yes
Impact Book is not yet published.
 
Description Public talks 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Members of the MRC Centre regularly give public talks, either as lectures or as part of Cafe Scientifique .. a discussion forum held in the Watershed Centre in Bristol city centre. These discussions are open to all. We have also done similar things in schools during Science Week.

Lots of interest from the public audiences and good questioning of participants.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009,2010,2011,2012,2013
 
Description School visits 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Members of the MRC Centre have visited schools to talk about the brain and how it works. Hands-on activities, such as drawing, making model neurons and brains are used to engage the children and to explain some of the concepts.

The children always find it interesting and fun to do.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2009,2010,2011
 
Description SciberBrain Presentations 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact In collaboration with the Biochemiocal Society and University of Wales (Cardiff), a presentaion on the topic of cognitive enhancers has been developed as part of a project to produce materials for use in GCSE and A' level courses.

Feedback from teachers using the matierial has been very positive. Updates to the presentations are beign prepared.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012
 
Description SciberBrain Workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact A series of workshops were run in collaboration with the Biochemical Society and the University of Wales (Cardiff) with year 11-year 13 students on the topic of cognitive enhancers at the BA festival in Bradford, 2011. Over 50 students took part in three separate workshops over two days. The workshop included an animated presentation generated by Dr Andrew Doherty (SO for the MRC Centre). There was discussion of the issues surrounding the use of drugs such as ritalin and modafinil for instance to enhance memory and exam performance.

Generally positive feedback from students; lots of interest was sparked, especially with yr 13 students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Science Alive! and Brain Awareness Week 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Hands on activities run for the general public in the @Bristol Science Centre. Lots of activities were available to engage with anyone who was in the Centre, including microscopes with slides of neurons and stained brain sections, models of brain structures, games and animated films.

lots of interest from the public and very good interaction.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009,2010,2011,2012
 
Description Understanding Animal Research 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Members of the Centre, including the Scientific Officer, have received training to prepare them for going to secondary schools to talk about the use of animals in biomedical research, in collaboration with Understanding Animal Research. A couple of PIs have been doing this for a short while.

While difficult to determine, a greater understanding of why animals are used in research and drug development is gained.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2012,2014
 
Description Web Site 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The MRC centre has an extensive web site, detailing the research interests of members, as well as lots of background information on different aspects of neuroscience. The whole site is accesible by the public. One section (Brain Basics) has now been set up as a separate entity and is dedicated to a public audience/non-specialist audience.

Feedback received via a fedback form is very positive. Many teachers and lecturers have used the material on the web site in their school and undergraduate teaching, while many of the graphical materials (figures and animations) have been used in presentations and publications worldwide.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2009,2010,2011,2012
 
Description Workshops with at-Bristol Science Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The scientific officer has been working with the science centre @-Bristol as a volunteer to deliver school workshops on all sorts of aspects of science. While this is not necessarily related directly to the work of the Centre, it is all about enthusing young people about science, while also being able to talk about the research work we do and careers in science.

good response from students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012
 
Description public lectures 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Prof Graham Collingridge delivered a talk i the Cavern Club i Liverpool as part of the BA Festival of Science. Other public talks are given by other members of the Centre

Good interaction and response from audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2009,2010
 
Description school visit - Ribston Hall, Gloucester 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Workshop Facilitator
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Talk to an after school science club about the research carried out by the MRC Centre and how animals as used

too early to say
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012