Weill Neurohub, an innovative research network of neuroscience communities at University of Washington, University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and UC Berkeley (UCB), launched in November 2019, and announced its first round of projects March 8.

Amy Orsborn

Amy Orsborn

Azadeh Yazdan-Shahmorad, UW Bioenginering

Azadeh Yazdan-Shahmorad

Two UW Bioengineering faculty are project leaders on one of the five foundational projects funded:  Advancement of Electrical Stimulation for Treating Neurological and Psychiatric Illness. Amy Orsborn, the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor in Electrical & Computer Engineering and Bioengineering, and Azadeh Yazdan-Shahmorad, the Washington Research Foundation Innovation Assistant Professor of Neuroengineering in the Departments of Bioengineering and Electrical Engineering, will join their collaborators at UW, UCSF and UCB to work to improve the efficacy of next-generation neurostimulation devices. Electrical stimulation of the brain is a promising technique for treating a wide range of neuropsychiatric disorders, including stroke; chronic pain; and severe depression and anxiety. The funding will support research and engineering to improve and test the effectiveness of these devices, which could decode a patient’s brain activity and use that information to provide personalized, targeted stimulation for relieving symptoms.

Founded with a $106 million gift from the Weill Family Foundation, the Neurohub collaboration brings together neuroscientists and researchers in a range of fields to advance treatments for brain disease. Their targets cover a range of neurological and psychiatric disorders and diseases, including Alzheimer’s; Parkinson’s; anxiety and depression; traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury; multiple sclerosis; ALS; and schizophrenia.

The Neurohub is led by a committee of representatives from all three schools, their neuroscience departments, and the Weill Family Foundation. The committee includes Tom Daniel, co-director of UW Institute for Neuroengineering, professor of biology and adjunct professor of bioengineering, and Ana Mari Cauce, UW president. Neurohub will also draw on the resources of 17 national laboratories overseen by the Department of Energy.

“To my knowledge, this is a nationally unique enterprise — drawing on diverse approaches to accomplish goals no single institution could reach alone, as well as seeding and accelerating research and discovery,” Dr. Daniel said in a UW News announcement.

Weill Neurohub also announced a request for proposals with a Sept. 1 deadline, with the first grants being made in January 2021. Faculty members, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students from the neuroscience communities at all three institutions are invited to apply.