Scintillon Institute Awarded NIH grant to study unexplored brain circuits for thermoregulation

Scintillon Associate Professor Iustin Tabarean

Scintillon Associate Professor Iustin Tabarean, Ph.D.

When your body temperature drifts away from 37°C degree, you may feel that something is off. Away by much, you are likely having a fever and might need to see a doctor. The human body system is built to maintain  a narrowly controlled temperature. How do we do it?

Maintenance of body temperature is a function of the central nervous system that receives peripheral thermal information and activates thermoregulatory responses accordingly. However, how our brain controls and coordinates different homeostatic processes are still not well understood. To learn more about how this works, Scintillon Institute’s Associate Professor Iustin Tabarean, PhD., has recently been awarded a grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health to study central thermoregulatory mechanisms during heat stress.

The grant will provide $2.4 million in funding over five years to support a range of experiments using transgenic mice that allow the manipulation of the activity of specific populations of neurons. 

To examine brain circuit mechanisms that are specifically activated during heat stress, Tabarean will collaborate with Scintillon Associate Professor Albert I. Chen, Ph.D., to define the transcriptomic profile of the cells involved in these circuits, to identify key genes and pathways relevant to their signaling mechanisms. 

"I am very excited to receive this grant and help answer some unexplored aspects of neural control of thermoregulation. Studying the thermoregulatory neuronal networks and cellular mechanisms activated by extreme heat exposure may lead to better therapies for heat stroke and provide central pharmacological targets for the development of hypothermic agents" says Tabarean.

Understanding brain cell types and circuits is the next frontier of human exploration. The Institutes of Health announced on Sep 22nd, 2022 the launch of Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) InitiativeThe BRAIN Initiative® Cell Atlas Network (BICAN) and the Armamentarium for Precision Brain Cell Access. These BRAIN 2.0 projects aim to transform our understanding of brain cell types and the precise tools needed to access them, bringing us one step closer to unraveling the complex workings of the human brain.