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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • June 11, 2010

    Youngsun Cho is Awarded NRSA Individual Training Grant

    Youngsun Cho, a first year MSTP student in the Fudge Lab was recently awarded a Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F30) for three years of training. Youngsun's proposed studies involve examining circuitry that may underlie modulation of approach behavior in anxious adolescents. She will first detail connections between specific regions of the prefrontal cortex the amygdala in animals, based on her work in Rochester. This data will then be used to design studies investigating functional connectivities between these regions in anxious adolescents. The latter studies are being conducted in partnership with Dr. Monique Ernst at the NIMH intramural program.

  • April 1, 2010

    MD/PhD student Youngsun Cho leaves to begin "mini-sabbatical" training at NIMH

    Youngsun Cho, an MD/PhD student in the laboratory of Dr. Julie Fudge, leaves to begin "mini-sabbatical" training in functional MRI and studies in anxious adolescents at with colleagues at NIMH. Youngsun is interested in structural and functional brain connections that influence reward and punishment anticipation in adolescents, and she will take anatomical studies from the laboratory to the next phase of her training with Dr. Monique Ernst in the Section on Mood and Anxiety Disorders at NIMH.

  • February 5, 2010

    MD/PhD Student Danielle deCampo Wins URMC CTSI Travel Award

    Danielle deCampo, an MD/PhD student in the laboratory of Dr. Julie Fudge, has won a URMC CTSI Travel Award. Danielle will now be able to pursue training opportunities in performing laser capture microscopy and microarray analysis with collaborators at University of Pittsburgh. This is an opportunity to add to her "technical toolbox" as she tries to characterize specific neuronal populations that may play a role in mood disorders.

  • 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.

  • December 9, 2009

    Helen Wei and Youngsun Cho Accepted into MSTP Program

    Congratulations to Helen Wei and Youngsun Cho, both recently accepted into the MSTP (MD-PhD program) from the MD-MS Program in Medical Neurobiology. We are delighted to welcome them to a continued and augmented commitment to neuroscience research as they now pursue their PhD candidacy and thesis projects.

  • October 8, 2009

    MD/PhD Student Mercedes Szpunar Receives a DoD Breast Cancer Research Program Predoctoral Fellowship

    Mercedes Szpunar, an MD/PhD student in the laboratory of Dr. Edward Brown, has received a Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program predoctoral fellowship. This fellowship, which supports up to three years of graduate stipend and travel funds, funds her thesis project focused on the effects of chronic stressor exposure on breast cancer growth. This study seeks to delineate how stress hormones alter tumor cell signaling, thereby promoting tumor growth and metastasis. Utilizing human breast cancer cell lines, the project includes in vitro and in vivo experiments and the optical technique of Second Harmonic Generation (SHG) - to image the ordering of collagen fibers – to determine changes in tumor progression in the setting of chronic stress.

  • October 1, 2009

    Dr. Kerry O'Banion featured in NASA Fall Newsletter

    The son of two educators, Kerry O'Banion has always adopted a broad view in his scientific pursuits. As an undergraduate at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, he investigated pair bonding behavior in common prairie voles, but chose Microbiology for his PhD work because of the promise of immersing himself in molecular biology. Indeed, at the same time he was learning about human pathophysiology and how to do a proper neurological examination as an MD-PhD trainee in the nascent Medical Scholars Program, also at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Kerry entertained working with Carl Woese, who had established the existence of a new kingdom of organisms (Archaea) by sequencing rRNA. Ultimately Kerry carried out his thesis work with Manfred Reichmann in Microbiology and John Sundberg in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology to characterize and clone novel animal papillomaviruses. All together, he cloned viruses from six animal species and witnessed at national and international conferences the recognition that oncogenic human papillomaviruses caused cervical and other epithelial cancers.

  • February 17, 2009

    Candace Gildner wins Ruth Kirchstein National Research Service Award for MD/PhD Studies

    Candace Gildner, an MD/PhD student in the Biomedical Engineering Department, has recently been awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award for Individual MD/PHD Fellows from the NIH. This prestigious, four-year award covers her PhD research as well as her remaining two years in medical school. The overall goal of this project is to determine how chronic exposure to cigarette smoke affects extracellular matrix remodeling in the lung. Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for the development of several non-neoplastic lung disorders, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary hypertension, and interstitial lung disease. Candace's research will focus on whether chronic exposure to tobacco smoke hinders normal tissue repair by altering the ability of cells to polymerize a fibronectin matrix. Her studies will provide insight into factors that regulate the deposition, conformation and physiologic properties of extracellular matrix fibronectin and determine if these factors are localized to lung tissue in response to cigarette smoke. Candace was born and raised in Rochester, NY. She graduated from the University of Rochester with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and completed a MS thesis in Biomedical Engineering at UR. She is currently in her fourth year as a PhD student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, working under the direction of Dr. Denise C. Hocking.

  • May 9, 2008

    Nature Photographic Exhibit by Babak & Anne Razavi

    Babak Razavi is a trainee in the Medical Scientist Training Program pursuing an M.D. as well as a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering. His passion with photography began at a young age when his father taught him how to take pictures using a Canon AE-1 back in Iran. Anne Razavi worked as a medical physicist at the Wilmot Cancer Center and Department of Radiation Oncology. She trained at the Charité Hospital, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany. She is now a product marketing manager with Siemens Medical Solutions. Babak and Anne both enjoy capturing a variety of themes including abstracts, nature, candids, weddings, and each other.