Neuroscience’s Michelle Olsen using NIH grant to study one of the final frontiers: the brain


Virginia Tech neuroscientist Michelle Olsen seeks to change that through a new five-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health. She hopes her work will one day allow scientists to more deeply understand how this cell develops and functions in the healthy brain so that they can better treat neurodevelopmental disorders and neurological disease

The NIH grant allows Olsen’s team to use a new serial block-face scanning microscope at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC in Roanoke to perform a very high-resolution microscopy of those tiny astrocyte projections that enwrap the synapses. “This new microscope will allow us to acquire a large number of images in a short time period to really dig into the questions in the study,” Olsen said.

Olsen will collaborate with two Virginia Tech researchers on this project: neuroscientists Susan Campbell, a research assistant professor in the Department in Animal and Poultry Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and an affiliated faculty member in neuroscience, and Michael Fox, a professor in and director of the School of Neuroscience, and a professor with the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC.