Innovative Research Programs In Neurological Disorders

Developing research capacity and collaboration to improve understanding and treatment of diseases associated with neuroinflammation

Full Project Name:Developing Innovative Research Programs in Clinically Relevant Neurological DisordersPrincipal Investigator:Cecilia J. Hillard, PhD, Pharmacology/ToxicologyCo-Investigator:Michael W Lawlor, MD, PhD, Pathology-PediatricsAward Amount:3,000,000
Award Date
July2018
Project Duration:72 months

Project Description Narrative:


Neuroinflammation contributes to most brain diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and ALS, as well as chronic pain, depression, and addiction.

The total impact of neurological and psychiatric disorders on the people of Wisconsin is not tracked. Yet it is known that each of these diseases can have devastating impacts on an individual's daily life, and are costly to Wisconsin reisdents. For Alzheimer's disease, which is one of the top 10 causes of death for Wisconsin residents ages 75 to 84, the Medicare costs for treatment pose an estiimated $3 billion yearly burden in Wisconsin. Chronic pain also has a significant cost, with statistics suggesting that it results in an estimate $10 billion yearly burden in Wisconsin.

Through this award, the Medical College of Wisconsin Neuroscience Research Center will grow capacity and collaborations in the area of neuroinflammation in order to improve understanding of brain inflammation and treatment options for these diseases.

Project Updates:


  • Recruited two faculty members to MCW whose work in brain pathology will contribute to the understanding of many neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's Disease and Multiple Sclerosis
  • Funded three seed awards that were designed to allow researchers to obtain preliminary data needed to garner extramural funding
  • Purchased a confocal microscope for laboratories to "look at" cells in the brain and spinal cord
  • Explored various topics related to neurological disorders, including how the skin contributes to pain; that exposure of the brain to CBD affects development of the cerebellum; that a peptide secreted by non-neuronal cells may slow down the aging of neurons; and established a novel vertebrate model, D. cerebrum, suitable for studying the mechanism of neuroimmunology which is an important aspect of neurodegenerative diseases
  • Developed new tools to visualize brain function and to manipulate the activity of neurons

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