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Department of Neuroscience

The Department of Neuroscience comprises multidisciplinary groups from Neurology, Neuropathology and Biological Psychiatry working in both basic and clinical neuroscience.

Our research focus is strongly translational. A new research facility, the Sheffield Institute of Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2010. This £18 million state-of-the-art research facility will bring together scientists and medical specialists from around the globe, dedicated to finding the causes and a cure for MND, as well as other degenerative conditions such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, spinal muscular atrophy and multiple sclerosis (MS).

Neuroscience is also home to SCANlab, a dedicated neuroimaging laboratory that offers state-of-the-art computing facilities for the analysis of structural and functional MR imaging data. The multidisciplinary research team’s overall aim is to determine mechanisms and aetiological factors that lead to psychosis using neuroimaging, neuropsychology and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in healthy and clinical populations to define key brain processes, how their alteration leads to psychosis and how their modification by treatment may lead to recovery.

Our research activity is funded through a broad portfolio of funding. This includes support from major UK funding organisations such as the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, NIHR, EU and multiple neurological and psychiatric disease- related charities. Substantial funding from biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies supports our translational and clinical research programmes.

Our research

Clinical and non-clinical researchers combine to investigate the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disease and major psychoses, with the goal of translating novel insights into new therapeutic approaches. Our major areas of research interest are in neurodegenerative diseases (diseases of the motor system, basal ganglia and dementia); neuropsychiatric disorders (psychosis and major affective disorders) and neuroimaging. The neurodegenerative disease group’s research portfolio includes genetic, cellular, molecular and clinical research into common disorders including motor neuron diseases, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and the


ageing brain and dementia. The biological psychiatry group has major research programmes investigating auditory function, time perception and processing, social cognition and executive function in health and neuropsychiatric disease.

Research includes studies to delay the onset of symptoms and prolong survival and quality of life of our patients. However, to conquer these diseases we need a more complete understanding of their underlying mechanisms, which we hope to gain through long-term laboratory-based research in our new Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN). We take a multidisciplinary approach to our research, encompassing pathological investigation of human tissue, genetics, disease modelling, gene therapy, cellular/molecular biology allowing target identification and drug screening for novel neuroprotective agents.

An important project is our work on novel gene replacement therapy for children with spinal muscular atrophy, to restore survival motor neuron protein to normal levels. This would ease stress on child patients by delivering treatment in a single injection.

Our partnerships

We have strong collaborative links with other neuroscience groups within the University of Sheffield, including the MRC Centre for Developmental and Biomedical Genetics, which has major strengths in developmental neuroscience and in model systems for neurodegenerative disease; the Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging groups in the Department of Psychology; and with tissue engineering and nanotechnology groups within the Kroto Institute.

For more information see:

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