NMARC Research and Core Components

Diagram of P50 Research

Research Synopsis

Pre-Clinical Research

On the preclinical side, we have a group of projects that will use a common model of FAE to investigate different facets of the actions of ethanol on neurodevelopment The first two projects focus on the hippocampus: one assessing GSK3B inhibition as a potential intervention for alterations in neurogenesis; the other focused on impact of maternal care on hippocampal neurogenesis, plasticity and behavior.

Translational/Clinical Research 

Next, we have a project that will investigate the effect of PAE on cortico-striatal alterations in the context of executive function, and another project that will evaluate neuro-immune alterations in the spinal cord, leading to neuropathic pain. Complementing these studies, we have a series of clinical studies focused on the development of bio-behavioral markers and novel biomarkers of ethanol exposure. Component 6 will use combined behavioral and functional neuroimaging to assess executive control and information processing by measuring pro-saccades and a sustained attention to response task (SART) in FASD adolescents.  This project is closely integrated with preclinical component C5.

Pilot 8A will assess the effect of PAE at an earlier developmental time point (in utero) on fetal brain development using 3D ultrasound and Doppler measurements of cerebral blood flow.  This project is highly integrated with C7, which will examine the effect of maternal drinking during pregnancy on human serum microRNA expression and investigate the potential utility of these as biomarkers.  Mention that this component will also use mice and will be able to relate miRNA elevations with alterations in brain regions investigated by other components.

Pilot 8B will investigate impact of ethanol on developing cortical neurons derived from human stem cells.  This project will not only examine novel mechanisms of EtOH action, it has the potential to develop into a preclinical screen for novel therapeutic agents, in collaboration with the Center for Molecular Discovery at UNM.