The Molecular and Cellular Substrates of Complex Brain Disorders Special Emphasis Panel ZRG1 MDCN-P (57) reviews applications at the interface between molecular and cellular mechanisms and brain disorders for which the basic neurobiological mechanisms, causative genetic factors, and pathological markers associated with the disorder remain uncertain.

These disorders include schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, Touretteā€™s syndrome, addiction, intellectual and/or developmental disability, sudden infant death syndrome, and restless legs syndrome. The panel also reviews application on the development of novel, scalable assay platforms to measure neurobiological endpoints with the goal of building a pipeline to be used in the context of target identification and drug discovery. Emphasis is on molecular, cellular and circuit mechanisms and not on the validity of the disease model being proposed or tested. Applications may ask questions that are hypothesis-driven or discovery-based, hypothesis-generating but must focus on the critical interface between molecular and cellular mechanisms and disease-associated processes. Applications are considered which advance our understanding of the basic biology of candidate gene products and/or potentially relevant signaling cascades and which seek to identify novel cellular and/or molecular interactions associated with these as well as how perturbations might impact upon their normal function.

Review Dates


  • Studies aimed at determining the normal biological function of newly identified genetic variants and pathways associated with brain disorders.
  • Exploratory studies seeking to identify relevant molecules and/or cell processes in the context of disorders, including the identification of novel treatment targets. Examples of cell processes may include signaling mechanisms; protein translation, modification, degradation; membrane biology; bioenergetics; and alterations in receptors, ion channels, transporters, spine morphology and/or synaptic connectivity.
  • Implementation of novel cellular models derived from human brain disorders (e.g., induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells) to identify disease associated alterations in cell processes.
  • Studies of novel roles for molecules linked to disease but for which the basic neurobiology has not yet been established. Examples include the impact of immune molecules or neurodevelopmental factors on synaptic plasticity and dendritic structure.
  • The development and/or optimization of model systems or scalable technologies for analyzing the expression levels and biological functions of brain signaling molecules with a view to the eventual use of these systems or technologies in target identification and drug discovery.

Shared Interests and Overlaps

Developmental Brain Disorders (DBD)

Neural Basis of Psychopathology, Addictions and Sleep Disorders (NPAS)

Pathophysiological Basis of Mental Disorders and Addictions (PMDA)

Neurogenesis and Cell Fate Study Section (NCF)

There are shared interests in the molecular mechanisms of complex brain disorders with Molecular Cellular Neuropharmacology (MCNP). Applications that emphasize the molecular and cellular mechanisms of such disorders, particularly autism and schizophrenia, are reviewed in ZRG1 BN (57). Applications that emphasize pain, epilepsy and mood disorders or the mechanisms of action of the psychotherapeutic agents involved are reviewed in MCNP. 


Last updated: 12/07/2023 15:28