2012 News

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  • December 14, 2012

    Jennifer Stripay Appointed Student Representative To Alumni Council

    2nd year Neuroscience Graduate Program student, Jennifer Stripay, has been appointed as the Graduate Student Representative to the University of Rochester SMD Alumni Council. She will be working closely with the other board members and the administration to foster development of funding and career development opportunities within the graduate school community.

    Jennifer received her BS in Biology with a concentration in Neuroscience from The Pennsylvania State University in 2009, and is currently working in the lab of Dr. Mark Noble investigating potential novel therapeutic targets in glioblastoma multiforme. She is a also a member of the Graduate Student Society Executive Board.

  • December 13, 2012

    Mini Strokes Can Cause Brain Damage, Lead To Dementia And Cognitive Impairment: Study

    Chances are if you're a senior managing your health, you've already had a conversation with your doctor about stroke risk. While many patients know the warning signs of stroke -- slurred speech, weakness on one side of the body, coordination problems, double vision, and headaches -- health care providers often fail to educate patients about their risk for silent or mini-strokes, which can cause progressive, permanent damage and lead to dementia.

    A new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, examined the effects of these so-called mini-strokes. They frequently are not diagnosed or detected by a doctor because a patient does not immediately present with stroke signs. Mini-strokes may lead to permanent neurological damage and increase risk for full blown stroke.

    Maiken Nedergaard, MD, lead author of the study and professor of neurosurgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center, says at least half of individuals over the age of 60 will experience one mini-stroke in their lifetime. She calls the prevalence of mini-strokes "an epidemic."

  • December 12, 2012

    Study Details Brain Damage Triggered by Mini-Strokes

    A new study appearing today in the Journal of Neuroscience details for the first time how "mini-strokes" cause prolonged periods of brain damage and result in cognitive impairment. These strokes, which are often imperceptible, are common in older adults and are believed to contribute to dementia.

    "Our research indicates that neurons are being lost as a result of delayed processes following a mini-strokes that may differ fundamentally from those of acute ischemic events," said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., the lead author of the study and professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "This observation suggests that the therapeutic window to protect cells after these tiny strokes may extend to days and weeks after the initial injury."

  • December 12, 2012

    Upstate Stem Cell cGMP Facility Opens

    Stephen Dewhurst, Ph.D.

    The stem cell clean room that opened Wednesday at the University of Rochester Medical Center is a critical step toward therapies that, among other things, may one day help to restore the crushed limbs of soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, university officials said.

    All sorts of now-incurable illnesses and injuries — from cancer to severed spinal cords — may be the eventual beneficiaries of work done at the new Upstate Stem Cell cGMP Facility, located at UR's DelMonte Neuromedicine Research Institute.

    The clean room, the first of its kind in western New York, officials said, was paid for with $3.5 million from the Empire Stem Cell Board, created several years ago to support research using cells that have shown promise in regenerating lost bone and tissue and treating illnesses.

    One of the critical barriers to moving cell-based therapies into clinical trials is the requirement that these cells be manufactured in a facility that meets strict federal requirements, Stephen Dewhurst, Ph.D., chair of the medical center's Department of Microbiology and Immunology and author of the state grant application, said. Without this resource, much of this science gets stuck in the lab.

  • November 13, 2012

    Richard Aslin Elected Fellow of the Cognitive Science Society

    Richard Aslin, Ph.D.

    Richard Aslin, Ph.D. the William R. Kenan Professor of brain and cognitive sciences and director of the Rochester Center for Brain Imaging at the University of Rochester, has been elected a fellow of the Cognitive Science Society.

    Aslin, whose theory of statistical learning has helped to revolutionize the field of cognitive science, was recognized for the sustained excellence and . . . sustained impact of his work. He is one of only nine scholars elected to the position in 2012.

    Dick is one of a handful of world leaders in the area of developmental cognitive science, said Gregory DeAngelis, Ph.D., chair of brain and cognitive sciences at Rochester. He has been at the forefront of understanding the development of cognitive abilities in babies, particularly in two key domains. He initially focused on visual perception and, after joining the Rochester faculty, a second major thrust has been in language.

  • November 1, 2012

    Registration Open for Annual Neurosciences Retreat

    The annual Neurosciences Retreat will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, at the Memorial Art Gallery. The retreat will feature talks from University faculty and graduate students. Lorna Role, chair of the department of neurobiology and behavior at SUNY Stony Brook, will present the keynote address. The retreat is sponsored by the the Neuroscience Graduate Program, the University Committee for Interdisciplinary Studies, the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, and the John Bartlett Memorial Fund. Registration is free and open to the University community.

  • November 1, 2012

    Scientists Create Endless Supply of Myelin-Forming Cells

    In a new study appearing this month in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers have unlocked the complex cellular mechanics that instruct specific brain cells to continue to divide. This discovery overcomes a significant technical hurdle to potential human stem cell therapies; ensuring that an abundant supply of cells is available to study and ultimately treat people with diseases.

    One of the major factors that will determine the viability of stem cell therapies is access to a safe and reliable supply of cells, said University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) neurologist Steve Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study. This study demonstrates that – in the case of certain populations of brain cells – we now understand the cell biology and the mechanisms necessary to control cell division and generate an almost endless supply of cells.

  • September 20, 2012

    Michele Saul wins a travel award to International Society for Developmental Psychobiology Annual Meeting

    Michele, an NBA graduate student in the Fudge Lab, has just received a stipend to travel to New Orleans and present her work entitled, Differential numbers of bromodeoxyuracil (BrdU) positive cells in the amygdala of normal adolescent and young adult rats. This work shows that cell proliferation is one mechanism of plasticity in the rat amygdala, and that it occurs at a higher rate in young animals.

  • September 14, 2012

    University of Rochester Scientist Awarded $630,000 Prize for 'Major Breakthrough' in Vision Science

    photo of David Williams

    Dr. David Williams, Ph.D.

    David Williams, Ph.D. a faculty member of the University of Rochester's Institute of Optics, director of its Center for Visual Science, and dean for research in Arts, Science, and Engineering, will receive the Antonio Champalimaud Vision Award at a ceremony today in Lisbon, Portugal. The ceremony, chaired by the president of Portugal, will recognize Williams' work on adaptive optics technologies as a major breakthrough in the understanding and/or the preservation of vision. Williams is widely regarded as one of the world's leading experts on human vision.

    In awarding the prize, the jury stated that Williams and his research group have revitalized the field of physiological optics, producing year after year truly beautiful, technically brilliant and groundbreaking work.

  • September 12, 2012

    NGP Student, Heather Natola Receives 2012 Merritt and Marjorie Cleveland Fellowship Award

    NGP first year student, Heather Natola is 2012 recipient of the UR Merritt and Marjorie Cleveland Fellowship Award. She was selected based on her outstanding credentials and the faculty opinion that she has unusual potential for future meritorious contributions in neuroscience field.

  • September 11, 2012

    NGP Student, Julianne Feola Awarded Pre-doctoral Fellowship from the National Institutes of Health

    Julianne Feola, 3rd year NGP student in Dr. Gail Johnson-Voll lab was awarded a pre-doctoral fellowship from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Neurological Disordered and Stroke for her project entitled: The Role of Astrocytic Transglutaminase 2 in Mediating Ischemic Stroke Damage.

  • August 21, 2012

    2012 NGP Students Receive Funding From NINDS

    Recently the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) awarded several of our Neuroscience graduate students training grants. This year, first year NGP students, Lauren Cummings, Heather Natola, and Matthew Cavanaugh, as well as second year students, Ryan Dawes and Laura Yunes-Medina received funding. Jennifer Stripay who was appointed last year, will continue on the grannt. NINDS is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with it's continuing mission to reduce the burden of neurological disease - a burden borne by every age group, by every segment of society, by people all over the world.

  • August 21, 2012

    NGP Student Adam Pallus Awarded a Competitive Graduate Fellowship From CVS

    Adam Pallus, a Neuroscience graduate student in Dr. Ed Freedman's lab, was awarded a competitive graduate fellowship from the University of Rochester Center for Visual Science from 7/1/12 to 12/31/13. CVS offers competitive graduate fellowships for graduate students working in the lab of a CVS faculty member. Applications are made by a student's advisor to the vision training committee in CVS. Fellows receive full stipend support as well as funds to cover one academic conference per year.

  • August 21, 2012

    NGP Student Revathi Balasubramanian Appointed to the Predoctoral NYSTEM Training Grant

    Revathi Balasubramanian, a Neuroscience graduate student in Dr. Lin Gan's lab, was appointed to the predoctoral NYSTEM Training Grant from 7/1/12 to 6/30/2013. NYSTEM training grant funds are utilized to provide up to two years of support to four graduate students and two postdoctoral fellows. The second year of support will be contingent on satisfactory progress in the first year. Graduate students will be supported at $23,000 per year, the maximum permitted in this application. Additional support in order to provide the standard University of Rochester graduate student stipends must be provided by the host laboratory, which will have to confirm the availability of funding to support the student through the completion of his/her degree.

  • August 15, 2012

    Scientists Discover Previously Unknown Cleansing System in Brain

    A previously unrecognized system that drains waste from the brain at a rapid clip has been discovered by neuroscientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center. The findings were published online August 15 in Science Translational Medicine.

    The highly organized system acts like a series of pipes that piggyback on the brain's blood vessels, sort of a shadow plumbing system that seems to serve much the same function in the brain as the lymph system does in the rest of the body – to drain away waste products.

    “Waste clearance is of central importance to every organ, and there have been long-standing questions about how the brain gets rid of its waste,” said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., senior author of the paper and co-director of the University's Center for Translational Neuromedicine. “This work shows that the brain is cleansing itself in a more organized way and on a much larger scale than has been realized previously.

    We're hopeful that these findings have implications for many conditions that involve the brain, such as traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and Parkinson's disease, she added.

  • July 16, 2012

    MSTP/NGP Student, Daniel Marker, Receives Fellowship from NIMH

    MSTP and Neuroscience graduate student, Daniel Marker, has received an individual fellowship ($42,232) from NIMH on his project entitled MLK3 inhibition protects the murine CNS from the effects of HIV-1 Tat.

  • July 15, 2012

    Danielle deCampo is Awarded NRSA Individual Fellowship

    Congratulations to Danielle, who is in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), for receiving NIMH Fellowship support for her project, An Extended Amygdala Path with Implications for Early Life Stress. Using a variety of techniques, Danielle is examining a pathway through the amygdala that appears plays a role in development of stress responses and is affected by early life stress. Her project is an outgrowth of collaborations with Dr. Judy Cameron (University of Pittsburgh) and Dr. Karoly Mirnics (Vanderbilt University), and previous support of the URMC CTSI Pilot Program.

  • July 10, 2012

    Danielle deCampo wins Travel Award to ACNP

    Danielle has won a highly competitive travel award to the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP). This meeting brings together basic and clinical scientists in the field of psychiatric research, and is a wonderful opportunity to see the latest work in the field. Congrats!

  • June 29, 2012

    NGP Student Wei Sun Receives Fellowship From AHA

    Wei Sun, NGP Graduate Student

    Congratulations to NGP student in Dr. Nedergaard's lab, Wei Sun, for receiving an individual predoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association.

    The American Heart Association has has spent more than $3.1 billion on research to increase knowledge about cardiovascular disease and stroke since 1949. The predoctoral fellowship award is designed to help students initiate careers in cardiovascular and stroke research by providing research assistance and training.

  • June 14, 2012

    Dr. Tatiana Pasternak Elected Secretary of the Society for Neuroscience

    The department of Neurobiology & Anatomy is thrilled to announce the exciting new election results in which our own Tatiana Pasternak has been elected Secretary of the Society for Neuroscience. She joins a group of 5 top officers of the Society, which is among the largest and most extensive organizational entities dedicated to neuroscience in the world, with over 41,000 members. Please join us in offering a hearty congratulations to Tania in her new role.

    Dr. Pasternak is also a Professor in the department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences at the Center for Visual Science at the University of Rochester. She has been a member of SfN for over 25 years. She has served as a member of the Committee on Committees as well the Program Committee and was Chair for both the Gruber International Research Award and Donald B. Lindsley Prize Selection Committees. Dr. Pasternak's research is focused on cortical circuitry underlying memory-guided sensory decision making.

  • May 24, 2012

    'Goldilocks Effect': Babies Learn When Things Aren't Too Complex, Too Simple

    Not too simple and not too complicated: Babies focus their attention on situations that are just right, according to a new study published in the journal PLoS ONE.

    Researchers from the University of Rochester coined this type of engagement the "Goldilocks effect." They proposed babies take in information that is not too predictable, but not too complicated by focusing on sights, sounds and movements.

    The study showed that infants are active seekers of information rather than passive recipients, and they, therefore, adjust how they attend to visual information by avoiding overly simple and overly complex events in their world, said Richard Aslin, professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester Medical Center and co-author of the study. They seek information that is of intermediate complexity, presumably because that is the best way to learn from the environment.

  • May 24, 2012

    NGP Graduate Receives 2012 Fenn Commencement Award

    Congratulations to Cory Hussar, a recent graduate of Neuroscience Graduate Program for receiving 2012 Wallace Fenn Commencement Award. Cory is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Mark Churchland's Lab at Columbia University.

    This prestigious award was named for Wallace Osgood Fenn who was a member of the Department of Physiology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry from 1924 until 1971. He was chairman of the Department from 1924 until 1959. The author of 267 publications, Dr. Fenn was a physiologist of international stature, known for his pioneer work in muscle metabolism, electrolyte physiology, the physiology of respiration, and space and undersea physiology.

  • April 16, 2012

    A Pillar of Modern Neurology, Robert J. Joynt, Dies

    Robert J. Joynt, M.D., Ph.D.

    Robert J. Joynt, M.D., Ph.D., one of the most influential neurologists of the last half century and the founder of the Department of Neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, died April 13 at Strong Memorial Hospital. He was 86.

    Dr. Joynt was a towering figure in international circles of neurology and headed both leading societies in neurology, the American Academy of Neurology and the American Neurological Association. He also served as president of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Beyond that, he was a beloved member of the Medical Center's community, which he had served through several top-level posts, including dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry.

  • April 13, 2012

    The Science Behind Self-Control

    Have you ever wondered why you can't bring yourself to choose the foods that are healthy over the ones you know are unhealthy? Researchers are not only trying to find out why, but what parts of the brain govern behaviors of self-control and how we can work to improve them. Ben Hayden, assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences, offers his insights based upon his research and how it has the potential to apply not only to our choices in food, but also how it could help people overcome addiction and even problems like obsessive-compulsive disorder.

  • March 29, 2012

    Once Considered Mainly ‘Brain Glue,’ Astrocytes’ Power Revealed

    A type of cell plentiful in the brain, long considered mainly the stuff that holds the brain together and oft-overlooked by scientists more interested in flashier cells known as neurons, wields more power in the brain than has been realized, according to new research published today in Science Signaling.

    Neuroscientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center report that astrocytes are crucial for creating the proper environment for our brains to work. The team found that the cells play a key role in reducing or stopping the electrical signals that are considered brain activity, playing an active role in determining when cells called neurons fire and when they don't.

    That is a big step forward from what scientists have long considered the role of astrocytes – to nurture neurons and keep them healthy.

    Astrocytes have long been called housekeeping cells – tending to neurons, nurturing them, and cleaning up after them, said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., professor of Neurosurgery and leader of the study. "It turns out that they can influence the actions of neurons in ways that have not been realized."

  • March 13, 2012

    Former Biophysics Chair and Senior Dean of Graduate Studies Dies

    Paul L. LaCelle, M.D., a University of Rochester Medical Center faculty member for more than 40 years, a former department chair and former senior dean, died March 9. He was 82.

    Dr. LaCelle, a 1959 graduate of the University's School of Medicine and Dentistry, joined the faculty in 1964 as an instructor of what was then the Department of Radiation Biology and Biophysics. He was named a professor in 1974 and chaired what is now the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics from 1977 to 1996.

  • February 27, 2012

    Each Flick of a Digit Is a Job for All 5

    You may think you're pretty familiar with your hands. You may think you know them like the back of your hand. But as the following exercises derived from the latest hand research will reveal, your pair of bioengineering sensations still hold quite a few surprises up their sleeve.

    Our fingers can seem like restless Ariels, so fast and dexterous you'd think they had plans and options of their own. Yet as scientists who study the performance, circuitry and evolution of the human hand have lately determined, the appearance of digital independence is deeply deceptive.

    Even when you think you're moving just one finger, said Marc H. Schieber, a professor of neurology and neurobiology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, you're really controlling your entire hand. The pianist playing Ravel or the typist clacking on Blogspot? People tend to think, they're hitting one key at a time, so they must be moving one finger at a time to hit that key, Dr. Schieber said. But really, all the fingers are in motion all the time.

  • February 22, 2012

    Neuroscientist Benjamin Hayden Named 2012 Sloan Research Fellow

    Benjamin Hayden, a neuroscientist at the University of Rochester who is helping to unravel the mysteries of how humans make decisions, has been selected as a 2012 Sloan Research Fellow.

    Awarded annually by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation since 1955, the fellowships are given to early-career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as rising stars. Each fellowship carries a $50,000, two-year award to help support the recipient's research.

    An assistant professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Hayden studies self-control and decision-making from diverse perspectives, including psychology, neuroscience, animal behavior, even philosophy and popular culture.

  • February 21, 2012

    A Step Forward In Effort to Regenerate Damaged Nerves

    Thriving DRG cells.

    The carnage evident in disasters like car wrecks or wartime battles is oftentimes mirrored within the bodies of the people involved. A severe wound can leave blood vessels and nerves severed, bones broken, and cellular wreckage strewn throughout the body – a debris field within the body itself.

    It's scenes like this that neurosurgeon Jason Huang, M.D., confronts every day. Severe damage to nerves is one of the most challenging wounds to treat for Huang and colleagues. It's a type of wound suffered by people who are the victims of gunshots or stabbings, by those who have been involved in car accidents – or by soldiers injured on the battlefield, like those whom Huang treated in Iraq.

    Now, back in his university laboratory, Huang and his team have taken a step forward toward the goal of repairing nerves in such patients more effectively. In a paper published in the journal PLoS One, Huang and colleagues at the University of Rochester Medical Center report that a surprising set of cells may hold potential for nerve transplants.

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