"Support for the SNRP represents a long-term strategy to prepare future neuroscience research and health professionals who can assist the NIH in reducing the disease disparity of populations that are historically at increased risk for diseases and disorders of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nervous system," said Dr. Alfred Gordon, Director of the Office of Special Programs in Neuroscience, NINDS, and lead administrator of the SNRP initiative.
The five SNRP research programs were awarded to the University of Puerto Rico, the Universidad Central del Caribe, Puerto Rico, the University of Hawaii, Howard University, and the University of Texas at San Antonio.
The purpose of the SNRP mechanism is to augment and strengthen the research capabilities of faculty, students, and fellows at minority institutions by supporting the development of new, or the enhancement of ongoing, basic and clinical neuroscience research programs, and by developing the necessary infrastructures of these programs.
The NINDS, NCRR, and ORMH want to help improve the health status of minority Americans and eliminate the healthcare disparity that minority Americans often experience. Focused research and research career development programs such as SNRP are intended to achieve those objectives.
Minority institutions are an integral component of the national biomedical research agenda. Through the SNRP initiative, the NINDS, NCRR, and ORMH will help minority institutions develop state-of-the-art neuroscience research programs, prepare the next generation of neuroscience investigators, and create more opportunities for researchers at minority institutions to establish research collaborations and professional networks with NIH grantees.
The SNRP program at the University of Puerto Rico forms the nucleus of a competitive neuroscience community which includes undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate students as well as advanced researchers who live and work on the island. The program supports three promising young Puerto Rican scientists who are collaborating with neuroscientists at the University of Vermont, the University of California at Los Angeles, and the University of Louisville, Kentucky.
Research under the SNRP program at the University of Hawaii includes collaborations with investigators at The Johns Hopkins University who are characterizing novel neuroactive compounds of Cnidaria venoms, and with others at the University of Washington, Seattle, who are studying AIDS dementia.
At Howard University, investigators working under the SNRP program are focusing their studies on three projects dealing with the central and peripheral nervous system control of breathing and airway functions.
Three interrelated research projects supported by the SNRP program at the Universidad Central del Caribe represent collaborative efforts with scientists at the University of California at Los Angeles, Cornell University, and the Oregon Health Sciences University. Studies will focus on understanding neurodegeneration and neuroprotection with possible applications to stroke therapy, myasthenia gravis, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Investigators at the University of Texas at San Antonio working under the SNRP initiative are collaborating with scientists at Dartmouth Medical School, Rockefeller University, and Duke University on research projects with the potential to better understand such disorders as sudden infant death syndrome, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease.
The NINDS and NCRR plan to fund up to three additional SNRP awards in fiscal year 2000.