The Eccles Institute of Neuroscience (EIN), was launched in 2012 in the new state of the art facilities within The John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR). EIN was planned and built specifically to allow co-location of much of the neuroscience research on the ANU campus to take place under one roof. It currently comprises over a dozen independent research groups working in areas such as synaptic transmission, sensory processing, the retina, and muscle excitation-contraction coupling, with expertise in electrophysiology (patch-clamp & lipid bilayer), immunohistochemistry, advanced optical techniques (optogenetics & 2-photon), neural modelling and molecular genetics. This research is being carried out both in vitro and in vivo. EIN provides staff and students with an exceptional environment for research on brain function, with a cellular focus and an emphasis on signal processing in sensory systems.
Within EIN the main research areas are:
- Cellular and synaptic physiology: Research in this area focuses on the basic mechanisms used by the brain for communication and processing of information at the single cell and network level, and has relevance to epilepsy, dementia and schizophrenia.
- Sensory physiology: Research in this area includes work in the visual, somatosensory, auditory and olfactory systems, and has relevance to blindness, spinal cord and nerve injury, deafness, tinnitus and epilepsy.
- Retina: Research in this area focuses on age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa, and has strong links with immunology and the development of cost-effective therapeutics. Technologies that assess retinal function are being applied to development diagnostics tools for eye diseases, such as glaucoma.
- Muscle: Research in this area is focused on the interaction between the dihydropyridine receptor and the ryanodine receptor and how this regulates calcium release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum, and has relevance to skeletal myopathies and heart disease.
The Eccles Institute occupies a new wing of The John Curtin School of Medical Research Building. Completed in March 2012, this stage of the JCSMR redevelopment project has been constructed with the assistance of a $63M grant from the Commonwealth Government.
The Eccles Institute is named after neurophysiologist Sir John Carew Eccles (1903-1997). During the early 1950s, Eccles carried out experiments detailing the biophysical properties of synaptic transmission at JCSMR, which led to his being awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1963.