Long-time research partners, Dr. Kobi Rosenblum (University of Haifa) and Dr. Nahum Sonenberg (McGill University) have recently received a $1.2 million grant through the Canada-Israel Health Research Program which comprises the Israel Science Foundation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the International Development Research Center and the Azrieli Foundation.
Dr. Kobi Rosenblum is the head of the Department of Neurobiology and Ethology. He is an expert in molecular and cellular mechanisms of learning and synaptic plasticity. He pioneered the research of how taste sensory information is encoded and maintained in the cortex.
There were approximately 400 applications with only six receiving funding. The grant is awarded for Rosenblum and Sonenberg’s joint research on the identification of the mechanisms by which eIF2α-dependent mRNA translation controls synaptic plasticity and memory consolidation. The World Health Organization recently stated that the burden of mental and neurological disorders has been seriously underestimated by traditional epidemiological methods, which are biased towards mortality and disregard disability rates. Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, are predicted to surpass cancer as the second leading cause of death in Canada by 2040.
The research aims to answer a fundamental question in modern neuroscience — how memory trace is formed, maintained, retrieved, and changed with time. Previous studies have determined that translational control of mRNAs in neurons is a pivotal element of memory formation. However, the specific mechanisms by which translational control impacts cognition are poorly understood. The research will perform an unbiased genome-wide study to identify mRNAs whose translation is regulated by eIF2 in excitatory and inhibitory neurons.
Using advanced genetic mouse models of eIF2, combined with gene discovery studies to identify the molecular mechanisms by which eIF2 regulates cognition, has the potential to direct treatment strategies targeting the eIF2 in patients with memory deficits to alleviate the cognitive and neurological symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.