A $1 million, 3-year grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) awarded jointly to three prominent research universities – all located in Newark, NJ – will be used to develop a novel doctoral program designed to train future neuroscientists who can integrate approaches used in mathematics, biomedical sciences and computation as they investigate emerging questions in the neural sciences. The consortium of the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), Rutgers-Newark, and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-New Jersey Medical School was among 10 awardees selected from 132 applicants.
The inter-institutional quantitative neurosciences doctoral training program will be co-directed by Joshua Berlin of UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Robert Miura of NJIT and James Tepper of Rutgers-Newark. It will employ state-of-the-art interdisciplinary approaches to explore and better explain the complex mechanisms underlying nerve and brain function.
“Although tremendous progress has been made in the neurosciences, daunting challenges remain,” Tepper said. “The solutions to these problems are likely to be found by bringing together the tools and approaches from many different disciplines. The HHMI award will allow us to train a new generation of scientists who can work at the interface of quantitative, computational and biological science to address these problems.”
Miura said that by working together, the three universities will be able to create a particularly effective doctoral program. “The HHMI training grant represents a significant new opportunity to take advantage of the myriad complementary strengths of the faculty of UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Rutgers-Newark and NJIT,” he noted. “With their physical proximity and close ties among the faculty, these three institutions will create a unique environment unparalleled in interdisciplinary neuroscience training.”
Berlin agreed. “The HHMI program will serve as a catalyst to bring together students and faculty from many neuroscience-related disciplines into a single entity devoted to studying complex questions posed by present-day and future medical science,” he said. “This effort will lead to a much greater degree of collaboration among the many universities and biomedical research institutes in Newark.”
Joshua Berlin received his BA and MS in chemistry from Northwestern University and his PhD in pharmacology from Michigan State University. He is a professor of pharmacology and physiology at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School and serves as co-director of the joint program in biomedical engineering between UMDNJ and NJIT. Berlin is the recipient of numerous awards and grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Heart Association, and his research focuses on molecular mechanisms controlling function of ion transporters and channels in nerve and muscle.
Robert Miura’s research focuses on developing mathematical models in neuroscience for cell dynamics. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the Royal Society of Canada. He is a professor and acting chair of the department of mathematical sciences at NJIT. Miura is co-editor-in-chief of Analysis and Applications and vice chair for the life sciences activity group of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. He serves on editorial boards for Canadian Applied Mathematics Quarterly and Integrative Neuroscience. Miura received his MA and PhD in aerospace and mechanical sciences from Princeton University and his BS and MS in mechanical engineering from the University of California-Berkeley.
James Tepper received his PhD in biological psychology from the University of Colorado-Boulder. He is a professor of neuroscience at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers-Newark. Tepper is a highly published investigator who serves on the editorial boards of Neuroscience and the Journal of Neuroscience, and is president-elect of the International Basal Ganglia Society. His research funded by the NIH focuses on the functional circuitry of the basal ganglia at the systems level.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) is dedicated to discovering and disseminating new knowledge in the basic life sciences. HHMI grounds its research programs on the conviction that scientists of exceptional talent and imagination will make fundamental contributions of lasting scientific value and benefit to mankind when given the resources, time and freedom to pursue challenging questions. The institute prizes intellectual daring and seeks to preserve the autonomy of its scientists as they pursue their research. A nonprofit medical research organization, HHMI was established in 1953 by the aviator-industrialist. The institute, headquartered in Chevy Chase, Md., is one of the largest philanthropies in the world with an endowment of $14.8 billion at the close of its 2005 fiscal year. HHMI spent $483 million in support of biomedical research and $80 million for support of a variety of science education and other grants programs in fiscal 2005.
Situated on 35 acres in downtown Newark, New Jersey’s largest city, Rutgers-Newark serves about 10,500 undergraduate and graduate students. The campus is home to the Newark College of Arts and Sciences, University College, the Graduate School-Newark, Rutgers Business School, the School of Law-Newark, the College of Nursing, the School of Criminal Justice and a number of research and outreach centers. For the past nine years, Rutgers-Newark has been ranked the nation’s most diverse university by U.S. News and World Report.
UMDNJ is the largest university of its kind in the nation. It comprises the state’s only three medical schools and dental school, and also has schools of nursing, public health, health-related professions and graduate biomedical sciences. The university offers 27 academic programs in health sciences. Its five main academic health care campuses are located in Newark, Camden, Stratford, Scotch Plains and Piscataway/New Brunswick. UMDNJ also operates UMDNJ-University Hospital in Newark and University Behavioral HealthCare and has affiliations with more than 200 academic and health care institutions throughout New Jersey. UMDNJ is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in: the undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate and continuing education of health professionals and scientists; the conduct of basic biomedical, psychosocial, clinical and public health research; health promotion, disease prevention and the delivery of health care; and service to the citizens of New Jersey.