Neurological research at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital is getting a big boost in the form of a $14.85 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to complete two floors of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital.

"More than 300 million children suffer from a neurological deficit, but the percentage of funding for neurological research is small relative to the magnitude and societal impact of these disorders," said Dr. Huda Zoghbi, professor in the departments of molecular and human genetics, pediatrics, neurology and neuroscience at BCM and director of the Jan and Dan Duncan NRI.

NRI set to open later this year

"The grant will fund the interior build-out of specific floors in the NRI, a multidisciplinary research facility for pediatric neurological diseases such as autism, epilepsy, Batten disease, cerebral palsy, and Rett and Angelman syndromes," said Zoghbi, who is also an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

In addition to creating office and laboratory space, the funding will be used to build space for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance equipment that will help researchers identify metabolic fingerprints of different disorders. The NRI is scheduled to open later this year.

"We are very grateful to receive this support from the NIH to complete space to house – under one roof – BCM investigators committed to understanding the pathogenesis of childhood neuropsychiatric disorders. The build-out of additional floors in the NRI will also allow us to recruit new faculty with expertise currently lacking in the Texas Medical Center, to support interdisciplinary approaches and enhance collaborations," said Zoghbi. "BCM and Texas Children's have a rich partnership and dedication to research which is demonstrated in the building of the new NRI."

Dedicated to pediatric cognitive developmental disorders

"This will be the first facility in the U.S. entirely dedicated to researching pediatric cognitive developmental and neurological disorders, and developing treatments for them," said Dr. John Swann, co-director of the NRI and scientific director of the Gordon and Mary Cain Pediatric Neurology Research Foundation Laboratories at Texas Children's.

The NRI will ultimately bring together hundreds of researchers across multiple disciplines dedicated to understanding the unique issues of a child's brain development and function during health and disease in the hope of bringing promising new treatments to those afflicted with neurological disorders.

The Recovery Act Limited Competition: Extramural Research Facilities Improvement Program (C06) was a unique, one-time solicitation available to domestic institutions to construct new, or remodel existing, research facilities. The goal of the grant – available in amounts ranging between $2 million and $15 million – is to facilitate and enhance the conduct of Public Health Service-supported biomedical or behavioral research. This is achieved by supporting the costs of improving non-federal basic research and clinical research to meet the biomedical or behavioral research, research training, or research support needs of an institution. The National Center for Research Resources at NIH oversees and administers these grants.

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