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National Institutes of Health (NIH), NIMH, NEI

Funded Project: Novel technologies for nontoxic transsynaptic tracing
PI: Ian Wickersham | Co-Is: Robert Desimone, Li-Huei Tsai, Kay Tye
Grant details: 5U01MH106018 | Sep 26, 2014 – Jun 30, 2017

This project consists of engineering a system for causing expression of optogenetic molecules selectively within targeted neuron populations in wild-type (i.e., not genetically modified) animals of any species. The result will be a set of reagents that will be made freely available to the scientific community through nonprofit repositories and service centers. This new set of tools will enable the study of neural circuitry with greater resolution, power, and throughput than is currently possible, allowing major advances in understanding the organization of the complex neural systems underlying perception, cognition, and behavior. This increased understanding is likely to lead to improved treatments for neurological disorders and disease and could also result in improved artificial intelligence and machine learning. Finally, the direct application of the technology in human patients holds promise for treating conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy, by allowing the selective activation or inactivation of distinct components of the neural circuitry that goes awry in these disorders.

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