2010 News

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  • December 20, 2010

    Daphne Bavelier Featured on NPR Today

    Junior BME student Ellen Coleman was named the University Athletic Association Women's Soccer Player of the Year as a result of voting by the UAA's head coaches. When contacted, Coleman said, The UAA is an amazing conference to play in, and being recognized for this award is a great way to show how hard our team worked all season!

  • December 7, 2010

    Stem Cell Advance a Step Forward for Treatment of Brain Diseases

    Neurons, oligodendrocytes and astrocytes derived from a single human neural stem cell.

    Scientists have created a way to isolate neural stem cells – cells that give rise to all the cell types of the brain – from human brain tissue with unprecedented precision, an important step toward developing new treatments for conditions of the nervous system, like Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases and spinal cord injury.

    The work by a team of neuroscientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center was published in the Nov. 3 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. Neurologist Steven Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Neurology, led the team.

  • November 17, 2010

    The Pericyte Becomes a Player in Alzheimer’s, Other Neurodegenerative Diseases

    PDGFRβ+ Pericytes

    Cells in the brain called pericytes that have not been high on the list of targets for treating diseases like Alzheimer's may play a more crucial role in the development of neurodegenerative diseases than has been realized. The findings, published Nov. 4 in Neuron, cast the pericyte in a surprising new role as a key player shaping blood flow in the brain and protecting sensitive brain tissue from harmful substances.

    For 150 years these cells have been known to exist in the brain, but we haven't known exactly what they are doing in adults, said Berislav Zlokovic, M.D., Ph.D., the neuroscientist who led the research at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

    In the most recent findings from Zlokovic's laboratory, the two first authors who contributed equally to the research, graduate student Robert Bell and M.D./Ph.D. and Neuroscience student Ethan Winkler, teased out the role of the pericyte in the process. Pericytes ensheath the smallest blood vessels in the brain, wrapping around capillaries like ivy wrapping around a pipe and helping to maintain the structural integrity of the vessels.

  • November 10, 2010

    Majewska Lab Research Featured in Nature Highlights

    The Majewska Lab's current research on learning and memory has been featured in the current issue of Nature Highlights. The research details immune cells called microglia help to protect the brain after an injury. They may also be involved in pruning the connections, or synapses, between neurons — a key process in learning and memory formation.

    Using electron microscopy, Marie-Ève Tremblay, Rebecca Lowery and Ania Majewska at the University of Rochester in New York imaged mouse brain slices and reconstructed the interactions between microglia and synapses in three dimensions. Most of the microglia were directly adjacent to the synapses, and in particular to dendritic spines — neuronal structures — that were small and were often pruned away later on.

  • November 2, 2010

    How Some Brain Cells Hook Up Surprises Researchers

    Marie-Ève Tremblay, Ph.D., and Ania Majewska, Ph.D.

    Immune cells known as microglia, long thought to be activated in the brain only when fighting infection or injury, are constantly active and likely play a central role in one of the most basic, central phenomena in the brain – the creation and elimination of synapses.

    The finding, reported in the Nov. 2 issue of PloS Biology, catapults the humble microglia cell from its well-recognized duty of protecting the brain to direct involvement in creating the cellular networks at the core of brain behavior.

    When scientists talk about microglia, the talk is almost always about disease. Our work suggests that microglia may actively contribute to learning and memory in the healthy brain, which is something that no one expected, said Ania Majewska, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy who led the work.

    The group's paper, co-authored by post-doctoral associate, Marie-Ève Tremblay, Ph.D., is a remarkably detailed look at how brain cells interact with each other and react to their environment swiftly, reaching out constantly to form new links or abolish connections.

  • September 7, 2010

    Neuroscience Graduate Student John O'Donnell Receives Merritt & Marjorie Cleveland Fellowship

    John O'Donnell accepts his fellowship award.

    John O'Donnell, 1st year graduate student in Neuroscience, was selected to be a recipient of the Merritt & Marjorie Cleveland Fellowship Award. The fund was established in 1991, with a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Merritt Cleveland. The fund supports a first year graduate student entering graduate study through the Graduate Education in the Biomedical Sciences Program with an interest in developing a neuroscience-related research career.

  • August 30, 2010

    Neuroscience Graduate Student Grayson Sipe Receives Alumni Fellowship Award

    Grayson Sipe accepts his fellowship award.

    Grayson Sipe, 1st year graduate student in Neuroscience, was selected to be a recipient of the Graduate Alumni Fellowship Award. Graduate Alumni in the School of Medicine and Dentistry established this Fellowship Award to recognize incoming student's promise for exceptional accomplishment in graduate study.

  • August 23, 2010

    Neuroscience Graduate Students Receive Training Grant

    First year graduate students in Neuroscience Kelli Fagan, Julianne Feola, John O'Donnell, Fatima Rivera-Escalera, Grayson Sipe were appointed to the Neuroscience Training Grant. It is a prestigious appointment funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health. Adam Pallus, second year student has been reappointed to this grant for academic year 2010-2011.

  • August 11, 2010

    Jacqueline Williams, Major Lab Collaborator, Awarded $15M to Expand Bioterrorism Research

    The University of Rochester Medical Center has received $15 million in federal bioterrorism funding that allows investigators to build on several discoveries made during the past five years to improve the ability to treat radiation injuries, especially from an act of terrorism.

    URMC was awarded an initial grant of $21 million in 2005 to become part of a national research network, Centers for Medical Countermeasures Against Radiation. The centers were charged with researching how best to respond to a dirty bomb or other radiological or nuclear attack.

    A second, $15 million, five-year award, received this month from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, will allow URMC researchers to focus on testing known drugs and experimental agents and their ability to ward off systemic radiation injury that affects the lungs, brain, skin and bone marrow.

  • May 30, 2010

    Acupuncture’s Molecular Effects Pinned Down

    Scientists have taken another important step toward understanding just how sticking needles into the body can ease pain.

    In a paper published online May 30 in Nature Neuroscience, a team at the University of Rochester Medical Center identifies the molecule adenosine as a central player in parlaying some of the effects of acupuncture in the body. Building on that knowledge, scientists were able to triple the beneficial effects of acupuncture in mice by adding a medication approved to treat leukemia in people.

    The new findings add to the scientific heft underlying acupuncture, said neuroscientist Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., who led the research. Her team is presenting the work this week at a scientific meeting, Purines 2010, in Barcelona, Spain.

  • May 15, 2010

    Neuroscience Alumna Receives Robert Doty Award

    KyungHwa Lee, Ph.D., a former student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program, has received the Robert Doty Award of Excellence in recognition of outstanding dissertation research in neuroscience. For her thesis research, Dr. Lee joined the laboratory of Dr. Douglas Portman. In her research, she established for the first time that the 294-neuron non-sex-specific component of the C. elegans nervous system is in fact an important focus of regulation by the sex of the animal.

    Her work opened up a new dimension of plasticity of this system: not only is its function regulated by developmental stage, experience and environmental conditions, it is also modified according to the chromosomally determined sex of the animal. Moreover, Dr. Lee's work showed that, in C. elegans, sexual status acts cell-autonomously to regulate the function of specific cells. As the first part of Dr. Lee's thesis, this work was published in 2007 in Current Biology. Currently, KyungHwa Lee is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Coleen Murphy at Princeton University.

    Dr. Robert Doty was a leading brain researcher who helped create what is now the world's largest organization of neuroscientists, the Society for Neuroscience. Dr. Doty had served the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry since 1961, a central figure to a team of people that has made the University an internationally recognized powerhouse in neuroscience.

  • May 12, 2010

    URMC Named Batten Disease Center of Excellence by BDSRA

    Lance Johnston, Executive Director of the BDSRA, awarding Dr. Jonathan Mink with the Batten Disease Center of Execellence plaque.

    The largest Batten Disease research and support organization in North America named the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) as a Batten Disease Center of Excellence today. The Ohio-based organization, Batten Disease Support and Research Association, has chosen URMC because of its comprehensive services for patients and its long clinical and research history with the disease.

    Batten Disease is a rare neurodegenerative syndrome that erupts with little warning. It first steals sight, then cripples cognitive and motor capacities, and while different variations of the disease brings a difference age of onset and progression, it is, ultimately, terminal. The most common form is juvenile, in which symptoms begin between 5 and 8 years of age. There are between 500 and 1,000 people with Batten Disease in the United States and only a few thousand in the world.

    Finding treatment with a comprehensive team that has experience with the disease is incredibly hard for families, said Jonathan Mink, M.D., Ph.D., chief of Child Neurology and professor of Neurology, Neurobiology & Anatomy and Pediatrics at URMC. The Batten Disease Support and Research Association is hoping to streamline families’ search for expertise by endorsing centers like ours.

  • April 30, 2010

    2010 Neuroscience Retreat Has Great Turnout

    At the retreat, Kyung Wha Lee was awarded the Doty Award for Excellence in Neuroscience Dissertation Research and Zhuoxun Chen and Michael Jacob won 1st place for their posters at the John Bartlett Poster Session. Thanks to all who attended.

  • January 27, 2010

    Jacqueline Williams, Major Lab Collaborator, Chairs National Space Biomedical Research Institute Science Committee

    Jacqueline Williams, Ph.D., was named chair of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute's Scientific Advisory Committee for its Center of Acute Radiation Research. Williams is grant director and core leader of the Center for Biophysical Assessment and Risk Management Following Irradiation at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

    NSBRI is a NASA-funded consortium of institutions studying the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight and developing countermeasures to mitigate the risks. The CARR, which is headed at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, is responsible for studying the acute effects of exposure to space radiation during exploration missions. The Scientific Advisory Committee provides advice on the Center's productivity and effectiveness.

  • January 22, 2010

    Richard Aslin Awarded Honorary Doctorate of Social Sciences at Swedish University

    Richard N. Aslin, the William R. Kenan Professor of Brain & Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester, has been awarded an honorary doctorate of social sciences from the Uppsala University, in Sweden. The award ceremony takes place today at Uppsala.

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