WVU Neuroscientist Receives $1.4 Million Grant for Auditory Research
 George Spirou, Ph.D.

West Virginia University neuroscientist George Spirou, Ph.D., has received a five-year, $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders.

The grant will support research related to early development of the auditory system within the Sensory Neuroscience Research Center in the WVU Center for Neuroscience. 

“The brain is a series of neural circuits that begin to establish connections at embryonic ages,” Spirou, director of the Center for Neuroscience, said.  “We are funded to study early formation of synapses, the connection point between nerve cells, looking particularly at the auditory system. These synapses form before an animal can hear sound.”

“We also hope to find general principles of synapse formation in early development,” he said.  “This helps us better understand how genetic problems can result in developmental defects that affect brain function.”  Developmental defects include blindness, deafness and autism.

This marks Spirou’s second research project grant from the National Institutes of Health this year.  The research project grant, which is the award mechanism that anchors all other NIH grants, provides support for health-related research and development based on the mission of the NIH.

“There are increasing numbers of investigators within the Center for Neuroscience who study development of the nervous system,” Spirou said.  “We not only want to understand the basic mechanisms of development but also how development defects occur so that one day physicians may recommend treatment options for patient care.”

Spirou’s funding began July 1, 2007 and new research faculty recruitment is already underway.

“We’re a growing Center and there is an increased need for research in congenital disorders of the nervous system,” he said. 

For more information on the WVU Center for Neuroscience visit www.hsc.wvu.edu/wvucn/index/php.

- WVU -

For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087
cw: 08-29-07

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