NDSU researcher Mark McCourt recently secured a $5 million grant to fund the Center for Visual and Cognitive Neuroscience at North Dakota State University for another five years. The center generates scientific discoveries that can be applied to treatments and interventions for disorders, such as schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, autism, dementia, traumatic brain injury and dyslexia.
The center was established 12 years ago when McCourt, a James A. Meier and Dale Hogoboom professor of psychology, received the grant from the National Institutes of Health to support an Institutional Development Award Center of Biomedical Research Excellence.
The center was eligible for two funding renewals or a total of three grants. McCourt’s most recent award is the third round of funding for the center.
Over 12 years, the center has established research facilities, helped young faculty members develop into productive researchers, given students access to world-class research opportunities and generated hundreds of scientific discoveries.
The research facilities give NDSU faculty, student researchers and researchers from other institutions access to state-of-the-art equipment. McCourt and his team have established three core research facilities:
- Technical Services: Provides computer programming, electronics design and fabrication, custom EEG recording and analysis software, and web development and maintenance support for faculty and student researchers.
- High-Density Electroencephalography/Neuroimaging: Provides access to equipment that helps researchers study relationships between nervous system activity and human perception, sensation, cognition and action.
- Driving Simulator: Driving is a microcosm of life that involves perception, emotion and decision-making, which makes it a rich source of data relevant to psychological research. The Driving Simulator Core includes a realistic vehicle cabin where the researcher can control anything that might influence a driver’s behavior. It also includes equipment for tracking eye movements, blood alcohol content and night vision.
The center has supported the development of young faculty members by funding their research projects. It has funded nine pilot projects since 2005. The $471,000 in funding has generated discoveries that have been made public through 58 peer-reviewed papers and 142 conference presentations. The pilot project recipients have also brought in $3.3 million in funding from outside the university. A new round of funding for young researchers will start in January 2017.
Undergraduate and graduate students also conduct research with faculty mentors through the center. More than 60 undergraduates and 18 graduate students have contributed to the center’s discoveries.
Overall, the center has completed approximately 450 projects. The projects have generated more than 400 presentations and more than 300 peer-review publications.
NDSU researchers have secured funding for a total of three Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence since 2001. The other centers are:
- The Center for Protease Research led by Mukund Sibi, University Distinguished Professor and James A. Meier professor of chemistry and biochemistry
- The Center for Diagnostic and Therapeutic Strategies for Pancreatic Cancer led by Sanku Mallik, professor of pharmaceutical sciences, and D.K. Srivastava, a James A. Meier Professor of chemistry and biochemistry
This research is supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number P30GM114748. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.