MISSOULA – Kasper Hansen, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Montana, recently received a five-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for his research.
Hansen is a Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence investigator in UM’s Center for Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics. His research focuses on N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the central nervous system, which are critically involved in neuronal development, sensory processing, memory and learning. Aberrant activity of these receptors is strongly associated with numerous neurological and psychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury, as well as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
In a recently published scientific article in the high-impact journal Neuron, Hansen and postdoctoral fellow Feng Yi, together with Tung-Chung Mou and Stephen Sprang in UM’s Macromolecular X-ray Diffraction Core Facility, used electrophysiological and X-ray crystallographic methods to explain the mechanism of action for a novel class of inhibitors that target neuronal NMDA receptors. This work and Hansen’s other research activities create a foundation for the development of new therapeutic agents to treat brain disorders that involve NMDA receptors.
Hansen’s grant was awarded to study strategies and mechanisms that can be used in the treatment of childhood epilepsy and aphasia syndromes caused by abnormal activity of NMDA receptors.
For more information about the UM Center for Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics, call 406-243-6003 or visit http://hs.umt.edu/cbsd/.