2013 Research Awards
Interdisciplinary Research Projects
Targeted Loss of CGRP in Vestibular Efferents Affects Oculomotor Reflexes – Technology Grant
PI: Anne Luebke, Ph.D.
Co-Investigators: J. Chris Holt, Ph.D.
We have shown through our preliminary findings (obtained in collaboration with Dr. Kathleen Cullen, McGill Univ) that the efferent vestibular system (EVS) is critical for normal development of vestibular system pathways. A significant innovation in our proposal is the use of a genetically-defined loss of an efferent vestibular system neurotransmitter (CGRP) in a knock-out mouse to study both the normal development and modification of gaze stabilization pathways assessed by quantification of the vestibularly driven VOR and visual (OKR) pathways. Notably, our preliminary data provides the first evidence that loss of an EVS neurotransmitter (CGRP) causes a significant impairment of VOR gain at all frequencies. As there are other EVS neurotransmitters and receptors ( ie, ACh and GABA), bringing such technology to track murine eye movements to the University of Rochester, would allow future collaborative investigations and grant proposals into EVS functions from the University of Rochester. Information gained from these proposed studies and technology development will provide a direct assessment of whether the efferent vestibular system (EVS) neurotransmitter CGRP plays a vital role in the control and maintenance of a critical vestibular function (i.e., gaze stabilization), and may also contribute to future drug therapies aimed at enhancing vestibular function.
The influence of traumatic brain injury on eye-head-hand coordination
PI: Ed Freedman, Ph.D.
Co-Investigator: Jon Mink, M.D., Ph.D.
Despite the prevalence of mild traumatic brain injuries (sports-related concussions are estimated to occur over 3.5 million times annually in the U.S.), prevention, identification, treatment, rehabilitation, and determination of recovery time-points are largely inadequate due to the paucity of parametric factors that can be easily and reliably measured both in the field and in the clinic. We have designed a battery of visual-spatial tasks that require coordination of the eyes, head and hand and address sensorimotor plasticity, spatial working memory, and orientation in order to identify parameters that reliably track behavioral markers of mTBI.
Hippocampal development and ischemic plasticity
Post-Doc Fellow: Jeanne Hansen, Ph.D.
Faculty Advisor: Marc Halterman, M.D., Ph.D.
Brain injury after cardiac arrest is a common condition with devastating consequences ranging in severity from memory loss to coma and death despite available treatments. My research focuses on a recently discovered connection between the neurotrophic factor BDNF and growth and survival responses mediated by the endoplasmic reticulum. By studying how this pathway functions in both the developing and injured nervous system, we believe we will develop new ways to both protect neurons in the acute setting and support mechanisms that allow the brain to rewire itself after global ischemic injury.