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.

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 and is the Bristol Medical School liaison with @Bristol, a landmark millennium project devoted to improving the public understanding of science. 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. The MRC Centre also maintains a large website, a part of which it devoted to the public understanding of science. A major new initiative for the University of Bristol is the appointment to the Collier Chair for the Public Understanding of Science of Kathy Sykes. Professor Sykes will be closely associated with the MRC Centre and will devote 25% of her time to promoting its public activities.

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 137 research scientists led by 19 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. The MRC Centre has grown considerably, with 9 new permanent faculty joining, since it was founded in January 1999 and many of its researchers have moved into new, fully refurbished space. The new grant will enable the MRC Centre scientists to maximise their research activities.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description MRC Centre for Synaptic Plasticity (Renewal)
Amount £1,866,000 (GBP)
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2008 
End 12/2013
 
Description MRC Project Grant
Amount £1,866,640 (GBP)
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2008 
End 12/2012
 
Title Glutamate receptor agonists and antagonists 
Description Selective agonists and antagonists have been generated by David Jane, a member of the MRC centre. This has been enhanced by the provision of new laboratory space that was funded in part by the MRC Centre grant. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2006 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The compounds developed here are in use around the world in research and some are now commercially available through Accsent Scientific. 
 
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 an environmet that fosters new collaborations and maintaining existing ones by organising research meetings, seminars and symposia. Details of each individual collaboration will be contaned within the individaul grants.
Collaborator Contribution collaborations allow multiple aspects of research to be carried out, eg molecular/cellular/behavioural experiments are carried out by different reseach groups.
Impact multiple publications have been generate by the collaborative work of the MRC Centre , which will be listed under the individual grants. Pubmed numbers for theose publications during 2006 and2007 are: 16585793, 16571764, 16610801, 16429132, 16675396, 16510732, 16582904, 16904707, 17348638, 17329418, 17486098, 17395218, 17329210
 
Description Public talks - various 
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 have given public lecture-type presentations of the work we carry out in various locations including national science festivals.

Interst from the public about the work we do.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006,2007,2008,2009,2010
 
Description School visits - various 
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 local schools to talk about how the brain works and to engage children in hands-on activities such as drawing and making pipe-cleaner neurons to help explain our work.

Interest from chi;ldren about the brain and what it does.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006,2007
 
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 that is publically available. One section is aimed principally at a proffessional audience (though it is available to anyone to view) and another is aimed at a public audience.

feedback is via a feedback form and is generally positive. In particular, some of the graphics developed for the site have been used extensively in presentations and theses around the world. We have also had feedback from many schools and lecturers teaching undergraduate courses to say that the site has proved very useful for their teaching material. Many of the animations develped for the site are now being used in undergraduate teaching, both here at Bristol and elsewhere.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006,2007,2008,2009,2010