Neuroscience Center of Economic Excellence Endowed Chair

Dr. Gary Aston-Jones
William E. Murray Center of
Economic Excellence Chair in Neuroscience 
Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)

Actively Recruiting
SmartState Endowed Chair
in Movement Disorders 
Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)

The Neuroscience Institute at MUSC
exists to create a nationally known
center of neuroscience research,
education, and treatment by facilitating
interdisciplinary collaboration in the
South Carolina neuroscience community.
With members drawn from MUSC, the
University of South Carolina, Clemson
University and the Greenwood Genetic
Center, the Institute has grown into an
invaluable resource for anyone with an
interest in cutting-edge Neuroscience. More>

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Neuroscience

Center of Economic Excellence

Inception

2003

Award Amount

$3 million

Extramural Research Funding

$12.7 Million

University Partner

Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)

Private Sector Partner

Multiple Industry Partners

The Neuroscience SmartState Center researches age-related neurodegenerative problems including dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and stroke. This area of research has a major impact on South Carolina, where more than half the population is over the age of 56.

The Center is a strong component of MUSC’s established Neuroscience Institute and
also works in collaboration with the MUSC Center on Aging.

The Center has supported the creation of SemiAlloGen, Inc., a biotechnology start-up company that develops therapeutics in the field of neuro-degenerative disorders and cancer. This Center is developing a project with Jazz Pharmaceuticals to test mechanisms of action of the drug Xyrem. The Center has partnered with Cephalon Pharmaceuticals and Lilly Pharmaceuticals to test brain reward function. It has also begun discussions with Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline to test two antagonists as potential treatment of addiction.

The Center has received more than $12.7 million in research funding, which SmartState Endowed Chair Dr. Aston-Jones and his research team have focused on such subjects as drug addiction; a new rat model of depression, and brain circuits involved in circadian regulation of behavioral processes. In 2010, Aston-Jones’ research of the brain nucleus locus coeruleus spurred an article on the causes of autism by the director of the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative.
The Center has collaborated with research teams at Princeton University, Tamagawa University in Japan, University of Texas at San Antonio, Harvard University, University of Bordeaux (France), and University of Pennsylvania.