August 28, 2015
Carney lab looks beyond inner ear in quest for better hearing aids
Laurel Carney, Ph.D.
Most hearing aids on the market today are designed to mimic what happens in our inner ear — specifically the amplifying role of the outer hair cells.
However, the lab of Laurel Carney, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, is studying what happens beyond the inner ear — in the complex network of auditory nerve fibers that transmit the inner ear's electrical signals to the brain, and in the auditory center of the midbrain, which processes those signals.
Therein lies the key to creating hearing aids that not only make human speech louder but clearer, Carney believes.
An important focus of her research uses a combination of physiological and behavioral studies, and computer modeling, to study the 30,000 auditory nerve fibers on each side of our brain that transmit electrical signals from the inner ear. Critical to this is the initial
transductionof mechanical energy to electrical signals that occurs in the inner h air cells of the inner ear's organ of Corti.
This is critical for shaping the patterning of responses in the auditory nerves, and the patterning of those responses at this first level, where the signal comes into the brain, has a big effect on the way the mid brain responds to the relatively low frequencies of the human voice,Carney explained.
In people with healthy hearing, the initial transduction results in a wide contrast in how various auditory nerve fibers transmit this information.
The responses of some fibers are dominated by a single tone, or harmonic, within the sound; others respond to fluctuations that are set up by the beating of multiple harmonics,Carney said. In the mid brain, neurons are capable of assimilating this contrast of fluctuating and nonfluctuating inputs across varying frequencies. They begin the process of parsing out the sounds of speech and any other vocalizations that involve low frequencies. A better understanding of how this process works in the midbrain, Carney believes, could yield new strategies for designing hearing aids.
A lot of people have tried to design hearing aids based just on what is going on in the inner ear, but there's a lot of redundancies in the information generated there. We argue that you need to step back and, from the viewpoint of the midbrain, focus on what really matters. It's the pattern of fluctuations in the auditory nerve fibers that the midbrain responds to. The sort of strategies we're suggesting are not intuitive. The idea of trying to restore the contrast in the fluctuations across different frequency channels has not been tried before. The burden is on us to prove that it works,she added.
To that end, Carney works closely with Joyce McDonough, Professor of Linguistics, in exploring how auditory nerve fiber transmissions play a role in coding speech sounds. Her lab also works closely with that of Jong-Hoon Nam, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and of Biomedical Engineering, whose inner-ear studies were described in this newsletter last week. Carney shares what her lab is learning about the interface of auditory nerve fiber signaling with the brain, and in return,
we try to include in our models a lot of the nonlinear properties of the inner ear that he (Nam) has been working on. By interacting with his lab, we hope to continue to modernize our model as he discovers more,Carney said.
August 26, 2015
NGP students receive the 2015 Convocation Awards
Garrick Salois, 1st year student, is this year's recipient of the Irving L. Spar Fellowship Award.
Humberto Mestre, 1st year student, was awarded the Merritt and Marjorie Cleveland Fellowship.
Holly Beaulac, 1st year student, received this year's Graduate Alumni Fellowship Award.
Jenn Stripay, 5th year student, was selected to receive this year's Outstanding Student Mentor Award.
Congrats to all!
August 12, 2015
David Williams, Ph.D.
$500,000 prize for his transformative breakthrough in vision research
David Williams, widely regarded as one of the world's leading experts on human vision, has been named the 2015 recipient of the Beckman-Argyros Award in Vision Research. Williams pioneered the use of adaptive optics technologies for vision applications. He serves as the William G. Allyn Professor of Medical Optics, director of the Center for Visual Science and dean for research in Arts, Science, and Engineering at the University of Rochester.
The award, bestowed by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, rewards an individual who has made transformative breakthroughs in vision research. Williams will receive a total of $500,000, along with a solid gold commemorative medallion.
It's an incredible honor for me to receive this award from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation,said Williams. He added that one aspect that made this award particularly special is that
it allows our group to take risks.
Read the article at the University NewsCenter.
August 10, 2015
Dr. Charles Duffy M.D., Ph.D.
A small company started by a neuroscientist at the University of Rochester has moved closer to providing doctors with what he says is a simple, computer-based tool to help detect early signs of Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.
Cerebral Assessment Systems has received marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Cognivue, a cognitive-assessment tool that functions somewhat like a video game. A patient can perform the inexpensive and simple test while a time-strapped primary-care physician tends to other patients. The 10-minute, noninvasive examination can detect subtle lapses in the brain’s perceptual ability that may signal the early stages of mental decline caused by dementia.
The federal government's approval to market the device comes as Alzheimer's researchers everywhere step up the pursuit for easier and more inexpensive ways to identify dementia in its earliest stages.
Look, there is a late-life tsunami of late-life cognitive decline coming at us, and health-care providers are standing on the beach,said Charles J. Duffy, a neurology professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center who founded the company.
What we are all about is making cognitive care part of primary care.
Read the article from the Washington Post.
July 23, 2015
Dr. Lizabeth Romanski
Researchers Pinpoint Brain's Audiovisual Processing Center
A new study is helping scientists more precisely understand how the brain stitches together sensory information such as sound and images, insight that could shed new light on conditions such as Autism. The research, which appears in the Journal of Neuroscience, identifies an area of the brain in the frontal lobe responsible for working memory and sensory integration.
Work in our laboratory is aimed at understanding how auditory and visual information are integrated since we know this process is crucial for recognizing objects by sight and sound, communicating effectively, and navigating through our complex world,said Lizabeth Romanski, Ph.D., an associate professor in the University of Rochester Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy and co-author of the study.
Our recent study demonstrates that the prefrontal cortex plays an essential role in audiovisual working memory, and when this area is switched off our ability to remember both the auditory and visual cues is impaired,said Bethany Plakke, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Romanski lab and co-author of this study.
For the complete article visit the URMC Newsroom.
July 20, 2015
Infants can use their expectations about the world to rapidly shape their developing brains, researchers have found.
A series of experiments with infants 5 to 7 months old has shown that portions of babies' brains responsible for visual processing respond not just to the presence of visual stimuli, but also to the mere expectation of visual stimuli, according to researchers from the University of Rochester and the University of South Carolina.
That type of complex neural processing was once thought to happen only in adults—not infants—whose brains are still developing important neural connections.
We show that in situations of learning and situations of expectations, babies are in fact able to really quickly use their experience to shift the ways different areas of their brain respond to the environment,said Lauren Emberson, who conducted the study at the University of Rochester's Baby Lab while a research associate with Richard Aslin in the department of brain and cognitive sciences.
For more information, visit the University of Rochester Newscenter.
July 7, 2015
Researcher Wins Auditory Neuroscience Award
Laurel Carney, a professor of Biomedical Engineering, has been recognized for her work by the premier scientific organization in the field of acoustics. The Acoustical Society of America has awarded Carney the William and Christine Hartmann Prize in Auditory Neuroscience.
It's truly a great honor to receive an award created by Bill and Christine Hartmann, two of my role models,said Carney.
I welcome the challenge to emulate their life of discovery, presentation, publication, service, and education throughout the world.
William and Christine Hartmann established the award with a donation to recognize and honor
research that links auditory physiology with auditory perception or behavior in humans or other animals.William Hartmann is a physicist, psychoacoustician, and former president of the Acoustical Society of America. His contributions to the field involved pitch perception, signal detection, modulation detection, and the localization of sound.
In her research lab, Carney is working to better understand how the brain translates sounds into patterns of electrical impulses. By studying physiology, human hearing, and computer models, Carney hopes to learn how the brain distinguishes sounds in noisy environments and why even a small degree of hearing loss can lead to major problems. Her ultimate goal is to develop effective strategies to help people who have experienced hearing loss.
Carney earned her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University and professor of biomedical engineering at Syracuse University before joining the faculty at the University of Rochester in 2007, where she serves as professor in three departments—biomedical engineering, neurobiology and anatomy, and electrical and computer engineering.
For additional information, visit the Rochester Newsroom.
July 2, 2015
University of Rochester Medical Center scientist Ruchira Singh, Ph.D., received a grant from the Knights Templar Eye Foundation to investigate how neurodegenerative diseases, such as juvenile Batten disease, cause blindness.
Singh, assistant professor of Ophthalmology and Biomedical Genetics, will use the $60,000 grant to create a human model of Batten disease (CNL3) using patient’s own cells. The project may lead to better understand the disease mechanisms, aiding in the development of drug therapies to preserve vision in affected patients.
For the complete article, visit the URMC newsroom.
July 1, 2015
Mink Receives First Ever Tourette’s Association of America Award
Jonathan Mink, M.D., Ph.D., chief of Child Neurology at Golisano Children’s Hospital, is the first recipient of the Tourette Association of America’s Oliver Sacks Award for Excellence. The award, named for the famous British neurologist, was to be presented at the First World Congress on Tourette Syndrome and Tic Disorders, but due to a scheduling conflict, representatives from TAA instead traveled to Rochester to present him with the award in a surprise ceremony.
The award is in recognition of his many years of leadership, mentorship, research, and care on behalf of all people touched by Tourette syndrome and tic disorders around the world.
June 22, 2015
Our brains track moving objects by applying one of the algorithms your phone's GPS uses, according to researchers at the University of Rochester. This same algorithm also explains why we are fooled by several motion-related optical illusions, including the sudden
breakof baseball's well known
Like GPS, our visual ability, although quite impressive, has many limitations,said the study's coauthor, Duje Tadin, associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester.
The new open-access study published in PNAS shows that our brains apply an algorithm, known as a Kalman filter, when tracking an object's position. This algorithm helps the brain process less than perfect visual signals, such as when objects move to the periphery of our visual field where acuity is low.
To read the entire article, visit the Rochester Newsroom.
June 22, 2015
Two NGP students are presenting their defense seminars next week.
Wei Sun defends on Monday June 29th and Adam Pallus defends on July 1st
To read their abstracts, visit the Defense Seminars site.
June 17, 2015
Congratulations to Brianna Sleezer on becoming the first intern matched from URBEST!
Brianna Sleezer, a neuroscience PhD graduate student in the Hayden Lab, is URBEST's (Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training) first intern that has been matched with a host: The Children's Environmental Health Network. Brie made things happen by connecting with Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, the Executive Director for CEHN, at a URBEST Career Story. She'll be starting her three-month internship at the beginning of September.
URBEST is a five-year, NIH-funded program to help health science and biomedical PhD graduate students and postdoctoral appointees to explore and better prepare themselves for diverse career paths. The program combines educational activities to highlight research-related careers and to instruct in leadership and professionalism. The URBEST program also provides opportunities to a subgroup of trainees for short-term (hours per week) or long-term (full time for up to three month) internships as a capstone experience. Internship candidates are selected based on their research productivity, engagement in URBEST activities and PI approval.
June 14, 2015
Kerry O'Banion, interim chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, and University President Emeritus Thomas Jackson will present
Patent Infringement: COX Fighting, from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 17, in Helen Wood Hall Auditorium. The event is part of the CTSI workshop series,
Good Advice: Case Studies in Clinical Research, Regulation, and the Law.
June 9, 2015
John J. Foxe, Ph.D., a nationally-regarded scientist in the field of neurobiology, has been named the research director of the DelMonte Neuromedicine Institute (DNI) and the Kilian J. and Caroline F. Schmitt Chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.
The University of Rochester has long been home to some of the nation's most innovative and groundbreaking research in the field of neuroscience and neuromedicine,said Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester.
John's appointment signals our determination to make this field a centerpiece of our progress as a University and Medical Center.
I am honored to be taking the helm of the DNI at this incredibly exciting time in modern neuroscience research,said Foxe.
The University of Rochester is already world-renowned for its superb work in this field and we now have the opportunity to build an even stronger presence. Tens of millions of Americans suffer from a major mental illness each year, be it depression or anxiety, a major psychotic disorder, or Alzheimer's disease, stroke, or addiction. And the list goes on. The National Institutes of Health estimates that only about half of these people ever receive treatment. We can and we must do better. It is only through research that we can develop new effective treatments and I am committed to placing the DNI and the University of Rochester at the very forefront of these efforts.
June 4, 2015
Suzanne Haber, Ph.D.
Suzanne Haber leads a research team to investigate OCD. She says the disease is characterized by intrusive, ruminating thoughts (obsessions), and impulses to carry out repetitive behaviors (compulsions), despite the awareness by most patients that these behaviors don't make sense.
The goal of a new $10 million grant awarded to the scientists is to improve our understanding of the brain networks that play a central role in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Together with leading mental health researchers at four other institutions in the U.S., they will pinpoint specific abnormalities within the brain circuits that are associated with the disease and use this information to guide new treatment options for the three million-plus Americans who live with the disorder.
The five-year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) establishes a new Silvio O. Conte Center for Basic and Translational Mental Health Research at the University of Rochester. Conte Centers are designed to bring scientists with diverse but complimentary backgrounds together to improve the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders.
For more information, please visit the URMC newsroom article.
May 11, 2015
Ben Crane Awarded Nicholas Torok Vestibular Award by the American Neurotology Society
Otolaryngology associate professor, Benjamin Crane, MD, PhD, was awarded the Nicholas Torok Vestibular Award by the American Neurotology Society at the 50th Annual meeting in Boston on April 25th. The title of his presentation was
An automated vestibular rehabilitation method for unilateral vestibular hypofunction.
The $1500 award is offered by the Society for the best lecture on an innovative observation, experience or technique in the field of Vestibular Basic Science, i.e., physiology, pathology or subjects serving clinical progress.
May 7, 2015
A new $1.7 million grant will bring together a team of researchers to study – an ultimately thwart – the chain reaction that occurs in the body after cardiac arrest that can ultimately lead to brain damage and death.
While the biological sequence of events is triggered by cardiac arrest, the death and disability associated with this event is the result of a broader systemic injury caused the initial loss of blood flow and subsequent tissue inflammation once blood circulation is restored,said University of Rochester Medical Center neurologist Marc Halterman, M.D., Ph.D., the principal investigator of the study.
In fact, it is the cumulative effect of this systemic injury on the brain, and not the heart – that ultimately leads to mortality in the disorder.
May 1, 2015
Rianne Stowell, Ph.D. candidate
Four University of Rochester graduate students and seven alumni have been named recipients of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships. Additionally, five current students and 11 recent alumni were given honorable mentions by the NSF.
The fellowship, which is part of a federally sponsored program, provides up to three years of graduate study support for students pursing doctoral or research-based master’s degrees. Since the program’s inception in 1952, NSF has provided fellowships to individuals selected early in their graduate careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering. Of the more than 16,500 applicants this year, only 2,000 were awarded fellowships. The fellowship includes a three-year annual stipend of $34,000, a $12,000 educational allowance to the institution, and international research and professional development opportunities for recipients.
Congratulations Rianne on the honorable mention!!
For the complete list of recipients, visit the story at the UR Newsroom.
May 1, 2015
Rochester team receives National Eye Institute grant for restoring vision through retinal regeneration
David Williams, the William G. Allyn Professor of Medical Optics, Dean for research and Director of the Center for Visual Science.
A team of researchers at the University of Rochester is designing an optical system to image responses to light of large numbers of individual cells in the retina, with the objective of accelerating the development of the next generation of cures for blindness. The Rochester team and their partners will receive $3.8 million from the National Eye Institute over the next five years.
The new instrumentation we are developing builds on technology we had developed previously to improve vision through laser refractive surgery and contact lenses, as well as to diagnose retinal disease,said Rochester's principal investigator David Williams.
This is the first time we have designed instrumentation specifically to develop and test therapies to restore vision in the blind.
The National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health, announced the awards as part of its Audacious Goals Initiative to tackle the most devastating and difficult to treat eye diseases. The central goal is to restore vision by regenerating neurons and neural connections in the eye and visual system. The initiative places special emphasis on cells of the retina, including the light-sensitive rod and cone photoreceptors, and the retinal ganglion cells, which connect photoreceptors to the brain via the optic nerve.
For the entire article, visit the University Newscenter.
April 30, 2015
Drug Developed at School of Medicine and Dentistry Targets Damaging Inflammation in the Brain
NGP faculty members Handy Gelbard M.D., Ph.D. and Stephen Dewhurst Ph.D. have founded Camber NeuroTherapeutics Inc. based on work done in their laboratories. They plan to attack the cognitive component of neurodegenerative diseases using a completely new approach: stopping the inflammation in the brain, so-called neuroinflammation, that impairs the function of nerve cells and the vast networks they create. These neural networks allow us to store and recall memories, plan and prioritize, focus on particular tasks, and process sensory information.
For more information, visit the URMC newsroom.
April 27, 2015
NGP Graduate Student, Grayson Sipe, Wins Award for Excellence in Teaching
Grayson Sipe, Ph.D. candidate and Margaret H. Kearney, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor and Vice Provost & University Dean of Graduate Studies.
Grayson Sipe, a Neuroscience Graduate Program student in Dr. Ania Majewska's lab, studying the roles of microglia during synaptic plasticity, has been named a winner of the 2015 Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence for Graduate Student Teaching.
Only a handful of these are awarded each year, and all this year's nominees were extremely well-qualified.
April 8, 2015
NGP student (with the support of PONs and SfN Rochester Chapter) organized the annual Brain Awareness Week and provided activities for grades K-3 at area schools.
Over the span of 2 weeks, from March 16-27, NGP students visited 19 classrooms at three different schools (Colebrook School in Irondequoit, Indian Landing in Penfield and West Ridge in Greece), grades K-4 working with over 350 kids!
They brought activities to the kids that focused on signal transduction, memory and perception. There was a team of 35 volunteers, including BCS and neuroscience undergrad and grad students that traveled to the schools. 6 NGP students were among the volunteers (Julianne Feola, Christy Cloninger, Jenn Stripay, Becky Lowery, Ryan Dawes and Susanne Pallo) participating in the planning and organization of the activities, school visits and training sessions.
Visit the Brain Awareness Week Facebook page for more information.
April 3, 2015
NGP Faculty member Robert Dirksen PhD will serve as chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry effective July 1, 2015, pending approval by the University Board of Trustees. Dirksen, who has conducted research and taught medical and graduate students at the University since 1998, is known for his superb track record of federal funding, his collaborative nature and his ability to inspire and engage trainees and colleagues alike.
March 30, 2015
Former IGPN student Laurie Robak, M.D., Ph.D. Receives Fellowship Award
Laurie Robak, MD, PhD
Laurie Robak, MD, PhD, who graduated from the IGPN program in 2009, is a clinical fellow in the Laboratory for Integrative Functional Genomics, and is also currently completing her dual residency training in pediatrics and medical genetics. July 1st of this year, Laurie will be a postdoctoral research associate/clinical instructor in the laboratory of Dr. Joshua Shulman at Baylor Medical College, researching the genetics of Parkinson’s disease. Laurie recently received the Pfizer/ACMG Foundation Translational Genomic Fellowship Award.
March 10, 2015
Congratulations to Nguyen Mai
Nguyen Mai, MD/PhD student
Congrats to Nguyen Mai, MD/PhD student, in Dr. Marc Halterman's lab for receiving an individual fellowship F30 from NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for her work on
Role of lung-brain coupling on neutrophil priming and reperfusion injury following global cerebral ischemia.
March 10, 2015
VasoMark advances to the next phase!
A group of students from Neuroscience Graduate Program and Neurosurgery Residency Program have teamed up to compete in the National Institutes of Health
Neuro Startup Challenge. This new effort offers pre- and post-doctoral students from biomedical, legal, and business backgrounds the opportunity to compete for licenses to patented technologies from the NIH portfolio.
The teams model a business around the intellectual property, and seek startup funding from partnering angel investor and venture capitalist firms in order to bring the proposed technology to the biomedical marketplace. The NGP and Neurosurgery team, named VasoMark, selected two patents for the development of a minimally invasive diagnostic for the detection of primary and recurrent malignant brain tumors. VasoMark successfully completed Phase I of the competition, where they developed a two-minute elevator pitch and executive summary describing their intended entrepreneurial use of the selected technology. They are currently developing a business plan and live investor pitch describing their business model, intended market, and future areas of expansion for their selected patents.
February 1, 2015
MSTP Announces 40th Anniversary Celebration!
The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) is excited to announce a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the MSTP NIH training grant on Friday, October 9, 2015.
The keynote speaker will be an MSTP alumni from the Class of 1980: Edward Rubin, MD, PhD, Director, DOE Joint Genome Institute.
EddyRubin is an internationally-known geneticist and medical researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, where he became head of the Genomic Sciences Division in 1998. In 2002 he assumed the directorship of the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) to lead the JGI ’s involvement in the Human Genome Project (HGP).
For more information and schedule of events for the day, please visit the MSTP 40th Anniversary page.
January 25, 2015
Congratulations to Fatima Rivera-Escalera
Congrats to Fatima Rivera-Escalera, a fifth-year student in the Olschowka Lab who was awarded a Keystone Symposia Scholarship to attend the Keystone Symposium on Neuroinflammation in Diseases of the Central Nervous System in Taos, NM from January 25-30th, 2015.
January 12, 2015
NIH Neuro Start Up Challenge
Several neuroscience graduate students and clinicians from the University of Rochester are involved in the NIH Neuro Start Up Challenge and have developed their elevator pitch and executive summary as part of the public voting phase. We encourage the neuroscience community to visit their Showcase page and provide votes and constructive feedback on the discussion board this week. Public voting will run Monday, January 12th through Friday, January 16th.
Team: University of Rochester- 8&9.A (Inventions 8 and 9)
Company Name: VasoMark
About the Challenge: The Neuro Start Up Challenge, launched by the NIH in partnership with the CAI and HPN, is designed to bring brain-related, patented technologies from the NIH to market. Teams of medical, scientific and business experts compete in several phases to create a company and execute a business plan with the ultimate goal of launching their start-up.
Thank you for your support