2013 News

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  • November 22, 2013

    NBA's Patricia White's Research Featured in Journal of Neuroscience

    Cochlear inner hair cell from an adult mouse, viewed as a three-dimensional reconstruction from a whole mount confocal stack. The inner hair cell is labeled with Myo7a (grey), ribbon synapses and hair cell nuclei are labeled with CtBP2 (red), and glutamate receptors are labeled with Gria2/3 (green). This technique was used to analyze the role of Foxo3 in the adult mouse cochlea. For more information see Gilels et al..

    Assistant Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Patricia White's most recent publication, Mutation of Foxo3 Causes Adult Onset Auditory Neuropathy and Alters Cochlear Synapse Architecture in Mice has been featured in the November edition of the Journal of Neuroscience. In addition, an image of a cochlear inner hair cell from the article was also selected as the cover for that journal.

    Dr. White received her bachelor's degree in Biology from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena in 1989. She completed her Ph.D. degree in Developmental Biology, also at Caltech, in 2000, where she researched neural stem cells. She began post-doctoral work in hearing regeneration at the House Ear Institute, and joined the faculty at the University of Rochester Medical and Dental Center in 2010.

    The White lab's goal is to find a biological treatment to reverse noise-induced hearing loss through a better understanding of the function of different genes in the cochlea.

  • November 21, 2013

    Professor Laurel Carney Receives NIH-NIDCD Grant Renewal

    Professor Laurel Carney received a renewal for another five years for her NIH-NIDCD grant entitled Auditory Processing of Complex Sounds. The new emphasis for the next five years is to investigate neural coding of speech sounds, starting with vowels. This new direction is possible thanks to the collaboration with Professor Joyce McDonough from the Linguistics Department. This grant will support graduate students and a post-doc in BME, Linguistics, or related fields who are interested in speech coding in the brain.

  • November 1, 2013

    Clinical Trial for Children with Juvenile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (JNCL)

    The University of Rochester Medical Center is currently recruiting subjects with JNCL for a clinical trial. This research study will focus on evaluating whether an investigational drug is safe and well tolerated in children with JNCL. Mycophenolate mofetil (also known as Cellcept) is a medication that suppresses the immune system. The study is 22 weeks long with a total of 8 in-person visits and 4 telephone contacts. Four visits require travel to University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York, and four visits are with your child’s local physician. Four contacts take place by telephone. Travel costs are covered by the study. Children enrolled in the study will take mycophenolate syrup twice a day, and will have blood drawn at each study visit to monitor safety.

    More information on the trial can be found at ClinicalTrials.gov, Time Warner Cable News (Rochester, NY television affiliate) and the URMC Newsroom.

    For further information, please contact Amy Vierhile at (585) 275-4762.

  • October 31, 2013

    Seeing in the Dark

    Find a space with total darkness and slowly move your hand from side to side in front of your face. What do you see? If the answer is a shadowy shape moving past, you are probably not imagining things. With the help of computerized eye trackers, a new cognitive science study finds that at least 50 percent of people can see the movement of their own hand even in the absence of all light.

    Seeing in total darkness? According to the current understanding of natural vision, that just doesn't happen, says Duje Tadin, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester who led the investigation. But this research shows that our own movements transmit sensory signals that also can create real visual perceptions in the brain, even in the complete absence of optical input.

  • October 1, 2013

    Students Receive Awards at Neuroscience Retreat

    Anasuya Das, a former student in Dr. Krystel Huxlin's lab who defended her PhD thesis on July 18, 2013 was awarded the Doty Award for Excellence in Neuroscience Dissertation Research during 2013 Neuroscience Retreat.

    Christina Cloninger, a 4th-year student in Dr.Gary Paige's lab, won second place in the John Bartlett Poster Session during 2013 Neuroscience Retreat, Rochester, NY.

    Ryan Dawes, a third-year student in Dr. Ed Brown's lab, won a travel award from the Schmitt Program on Integrative Brain Research. Ryan plans to use this award to attend the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Advances in Breast Cancer Research Conference, which is being held in San Diego from October 3rd-6th, 2013.

  • September 25, 2013

    Doctor Left Behind Story in Search of Ending

    We live in the new age of Sherlock Holmes, what with movie and television versions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's moody but brilliant detective popping up like foggy nights in London town.

    But it would seem that the late Dr. Robert J. Joynt, the former dean of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and an internationally recognized neurologist, was ahead of the Holmes revival. In addition to his formidable record of academic publication, Joynt, a Pittsford resident who died in April 2012 at age 86, had begun to turn out a series of short stories, five of which were published in Neurology, a medical journal.

    Each mystery featured Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson confronted with a puzzler that had a solution grounded in neurology, the study of the nervous system. Joynt's sixth, and presumably last, Holmes mystery was found unfinished on his computer after his death.

    Now the editors of Neurology are asking readers to complete the neurologist's story in 1,500 words or less. The winning entry will be published in Neurology. The author of the new material will share credit with Joynt. The uncompleted mystery and the contest rules can be found by going to Neurology.org and searching for The Case of the Locked House, the title of the incomplete story. (When you get to the story, click on Full Text.)

  • September 4, 2013

    Neuroscience Retreat to Feature Nobel Laureate

    The annual Neuroscience Retreat, sponsored by the Neuroscience Graduate Program and the University Committee for Interdisciplinary Studies, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, at the Memorial Art Gallery. The retreat will feature keynote speaker Martin Chalfie, University Professor at Columbia University and winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry; talks from current and former faculty and graduate students; and a poster session. The event is free and open to the University community but advance registration is required. To register or for more information, visit the retreat website.

  • August 28, 2013

    Ethan Winkler Wins 2013 Vincent du Vigneaud Commencement Award

    The 2013 Vincent du Vigneaud commencement award for PhD research went to Ethan Winkler, an MD/PhD student in Dr. Zlokovic's lab. To date, Ethan has 12 publications, six of which he is first author or shares that position with Dr. R. Bell. These include publications in some of the very best journals like Nature and Nature Neuroscience. Congratulations, Ethan!

  • August 10, 2013

    NGP Student, Helen Wei, Awarded the HHMI Med-Into-Grad Fellowship

    Helen Wei, Neuroscience and MD/PhD student in Dr. Maiken Nedergaard's lab was awarded the HHMI Med-Into-Grad Fellowship (September 2013-August 2014). Helen's current project is astrocytes in neurodegenerative disease. Congrats Helen!

  • August 10, 2013

    NGP Student, Jennifer Stripay, Awarded Pre-Doctoral Fellowship from NIH

    Jennifer Stripay, 3rd year Neuroscience Graduate student in Dr. Mark Noble's lab was awarded F31 NIH (NRSA) Individual Pre-doctoral Fellowship for her project entitled: Identifying c-Cbl as a critical point of intervention in glioblastoma multiforme (September 2013-August 2016). Congrats Jennifer!

  • August 7, 2013

    NGP Students Adam Pallus, Rebecca Lowery, and Brianna Sleezer Awarded a Competitive Graduate Fellowship From Center for Visual Science

    Adam Pallus, NGP graduate student in Dr. Ed Freedman's lab, Rebecca Lowery, NGP student in Dr. Ania Majewska's lab, and NGP student, Brianna Sleezer in Dr. Ben Hayden's lab were awarded a competitive graduate fellowship from the University of Rochester Center for Visual Science from 7/1/13 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 7, 2013

    NGP Students Christina Cloninger and Colin Lockwood Awarded Graduate Fellowship

    Christina Cloninger and Colin Lockwood have been awarded a Hearing, Balance, and Spatial Orientation Training Grant by the National Institutes of Health. The Hearing, Balance, and Spatial Orientation Training Grant (T32) is funded by the NIH National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. The grant involves the collaborative efforts of the Departments of Otolaryngology, Biomedical Engineering, and Neurobiology & Anatomy. The grant supports PhD students, MD-PhD students, Post-doctoral fellows and Medical Residents in BME, Neuroscience, and Otolaryngology who are involved in research related to the auditory and vestibular systems. This Training Grant is an important resource for the University of Rochester's Center for Navigation and Communication Sciences, which provides technical and administrative support for 25 faculty members who are conducting research in this area. The grant provides financial support for several trainees each year. In association with the Training Grant, a graduate-level course entitled Hearing and Balance: Structure, Function and Disease is offered.

  • August 7, 2013

    NGP Students Matthew Cavanaugh, Michael Chen, Heather Natola, Felix Ramos-Busot, Rebecca Rausch, Aleta Steevens Awarded Graduate Fellowships

    Matthew Cavanaugh, Michael Chen, Heather Natola, Felix Ramos-Busot, Rebecca Rausch, and Aleta Steevens have been awarded a competitive graduate fellowship, the Neuroscience Training Grant. This grant is funded by the National Institute of Health's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This prestigious appointment provides stipend, tuition support, travel funds as well as funds to cover trainee related expenses. Students are appointed to the NSC Training Grant by the NGP committee.

  • August 5, 2013

    Faculty to Be Featured on Radio Show

    Several University faculty members are scheduled to be featured this week on WXXI's 1370 Connection. Benjamin Hayden, assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences, will be the guest at noon today. He'll talk about neuroeconomics—the intersection of neuroscience and financial matters (e.g. gambling, investing in the stock market). At 1 p.m., the guests will be James McGrath, associate professor of biomedical engineering, and Gregory Gdowski, executive director of the Center for Medical Technology Innovation. They'll discuss the process of converting biomedical research into commercially viable devices. Tomorrow at noon, Lynda Powell, professor of political science, will be on the program to talk about the effects of campaign contributions on the political process.

  • June 6, 2013

    Huntington's Brain Cells Regenerated, in Mice

    Huntington's disease, like other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, is characterized by the loss of a particular type of brain cell. This cell type has been regenerated in a mouse model of the disease, in a study led by University of Rochester Medical Center scientists.

    Mice whose received this brain regeneration treatment lived far longer than untreated mice. The study was published online Thursday in Cell Stem Cell.

    We believe that our data suggest the feasibility of this process as a viable therapeutic strategy for Huntington's disease, said senior study author Steve Goldman, co-director of Rochester's Center for Translational Neuromedicine, in a press release.

  • May 23, 2013

    Motion Quotient

    A brief visual task can predict IQ, according to a new study. This surprisingly simple exercise measures the brain's unconscious ability to filter out visual movement. The study shows that individuals whose brains are better at automatically suppressing background motion perform better on standard measures of intelligence.

    The test is the first purely sensory assessment to be strongly correlated with IQ and may provide a non-verbal and culturally unbiased tool for scientists seeking to understand neural processes associated with general intelligence.

    Because intelligence is such a broad construct, you can't really track it back to one part of the brain, says Duje Tadin, a senior author on the study and an assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester. But since this task is so simple and so closely linked to IQ, it may give us clues about what makes a brain more efficient, and, consequently, more intelligent.

  • May 17, 2013

    W. Spencer Klubben Wins Walt and Bobbi Makous Prize

    The second recipient of the Walt and Bobbi Makous Prize has been awarded to: W. Spencer Klubben, a Biomedical Engineering senior working in Ania Majewska's laboratory. As a biomedical engineer, Spencer concentrated in medical optics and developed a strong interest in visual perception and development. Spencer's work has primarily focused on quantifying microglia's effect on neuroplasticity within the visual cortex and visual system. Most experimental methods have been focused around the utilization of optical imaging to analyze neuronal activity within mouse cortex. Experiments were conducted on mice with a varying dosage of CX3CR1, a single allele genetic fractalkine receptor responsible for the mobility of microglia. Spencer will receive the Makous Prize at a College-wide award ceremony on Saturday, May 19.

    The Walt and Bobbi Makous Prize was established this year by the Center for Visual Science, a research program of more than 30 faculty at the University dedicated to understanding how the human eye and brain allow us to see. The prize is named for Walt Makous, who was Director of the Center for Visual Science at the University of Rochester throughout the 1980s, and his wife Bobbi. The prize honors the graduating senior who has made the most outstanding contribution to vision research at Rochester.

  • May 10, 2013

    Kids With Autism Quick To Detect Motion

    Children with autism see simple movements twice as fast as other children their age, a new study finds. Researchers at Vanderbilt University and the University of Rochester were looking to test a common theory about autism which holds that overwhelming sensory stimulation inhibits other brain functions. The researchers figured they could check that by studying how kids with autism process moving images.

    One can think of autism as a brain impairment, but another way to view autism is as a condition where the balance between different brain processes is impaired, says Duje Tadin, a co-author of the study out this week in the Journal of Neuroscience. That imbalance could lead to functional impairments, and it often does, but it can also result in enhancements.

  • May 9, 2013

    Autistic Children See Movement Twice as Quickly as Those Without Condition

    Children with autism see simple movement twice as quickly as other children their age, according to a new study. Scientists think this this hypersensitivity to motion may provide clues to what causes the disorder. The findings may explain why some people suffering with autism are sensitive to bright lights and loud noises.

    We think of autism as a social disorder because children with this condition often struggle with social interactions, but what we sometimes neglect is that almost everything we know about the world comes from our senses. Abnormalities in how a person sees or hears can have a profound effect on social communication, says Duje Tadin, one of the lead authors on the study and an assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester.

    Although previous studies have found that people with autism possess enhanced visual abilities with still images, this is the first research to discover a heightened awareness of motion. The findings were reported in the Journal of Neuroscience by Tadin, co-lead author Jennifer Foss-Feig, a postdoctoral fellow at the Child Study Center at Yale University, and colleagues at Vanderbilt University.

  • May 8, 2013

    Enhanced Motion Detection in Autism May Point to Underlying Cause of the Disorder

    Children with autism see simple movement twice as quickly as other children their age, and this hypersensitivity to motion may provide clues to a fundamental cause of the developmental disorder, according to a new study.

    Such heightened sensory perception in autism may help explain why some people with the disorder are painfully sensitive to noise and bright lights. It also may be linked to some of the complex social and behavioral deficits associated with autism, says Duje Tadin, one of the lead authors on the study and an assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester.

    We think of autism as a social disorder because children with this condition often struggle with social interactions, but what we sometimes neglect is that almost everything we know about the world comes from our senses. Abnormalities in how a person sees or hears can have a profound effect on social communication.

  • May 1, 2013

    Richard Aslin Elected to National Academy of Sciences

    Dr. Richard Aslin

    Richard Aslin, 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 member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

    Membership in the academy is one of the highest honors given to a scientist or engineer in the United States. Aslin will be inducted into the academy next April during its 151st annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

    This honor is richly deserved. Dick is a pioneer in the field of cognitive development, said Peter Lennie, provost and the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences and Engineering. His work has opened up a major new field and has transformed our understanding of how infants learn.

  • April 9, 2013

    NGP Graduate Student Kelli Fagan Wins Poster Award

    Kelli Fagan, a third-year NGP student in Doug Portman's lab, won first place in the Multicellular/Organismal category the Graduate Student Society poster session held on Apr. 5, 2013. Kelli's poster was entitled Sexually dimorphic neuromodulatory signaling elicits sex differences in sensory behavior. Along with this honor comes an $800 travel award that will allow Kelli to present her work at the upcoming Cell Symposium on Genes, Circuits and Behavior in Toronto, Canada. Congratulations, Kelli!

  • April 4, 2013

    NGP Graduate Student, Revathi Balasubramanian, Wins Award for Excellence in Teaching

    Revathi Balasubramanian and her mentor, Dr. Barbara Davis.

    Revathi Balasubramanian, a Neuroscience Graduate Program student in Dr. Lin Gan's lab, studying the role of transcription factors in retinal neurogenesis, has been named a winner of the 2013 Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student. Only a handful of these are awarded each year, and all this year's nominees were extremely well-qualified. Congratulations Revathi!

  • March 27, 2013

    NGP Graduate Student Ryan Dawes Awarded Grant from the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester

    Neuroscience graduate student, Ryan Dawes, has been awarded a 2013 Breast Cancer Research Grant, from the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester. The 1-year, $50,000 grant will fund his project, entitled Breast Cancer Exosomes, Novel Intermediaries in Psychosocial Stress-induced Tumor Pathogenesis and was only one of two applications to be awarded this prestigious grant. This work will investigate if psychosocial stress can modulate the number or content of secreted small vesicles (exosomes), and determine if this can alter the process of tumorigenesis in an animal model of spontaneous breast cancer as Ryan continues his research in Dr. Edward Brown's lab.

  • March 7, 2013

    NPR Features Current Nedergaard-Goldman Publication; Glial Research

    A human glial cell (green) among normal mouse glial cells (red). The human cell is larger, sends out more fibers and has more connections than do mouse cells. Mice with this type of human cell implanted in their brains perform better on learning and memory tests than do typical mice.

    For more than a century, neurons have been the superstars of the brain. Their less glamorous partners, glial cells, can't send electric signals, and so they've been mostly ignored. Now scientists have injected some human glial cells into the brains of newborn mice. When the mice grew up, they were faster learners. The study, published Thursday in Cell Stem Cell by Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc. and Dr. Steven Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., not only introduces a new tool to study the mechanisms of the human brain, it supports the hypothesis that glial cells - and not just neurons - play an important role in learning.

    Today, glial research and Dr. Goldman were featured on National Public Radio (NPR) speaking about the glial research that is outlined in this current publication. I can't tell the differences between a neuron from a bird or a mouse or a primate or a human, says Goldman, glial cells are easy to tell apart. Human glial cells - human astrocytes - are much larger than those of lower species. They have more fibers and they send those fibers out over greater distances.

    In collaboration with the Nedergaard Lab, newborn mice had some human glial cells injected into their brains. The mice grew up, and so did the human glial cells. The cells spread through the mouse brain, integrating perfectly with mouse neurons and, in some areas, outnumbering their mouse counterparts. All the while Goldman says the glial cells maintained their human characteristics.

  • March 7, 2013

    Support Cells Found in Human Brain Make Mice Smarter

    Glial cells – a family of cells found in the human central nervous system and, until recently, considered mere housekeepers – now appear to be essential to the unique complexity of the human brain. Scientists reached this conclusion after demonstrating that when transplanted into mice, these human cells could influence communication within the brain, allowing the animals to learn more rapidly.

    The study, out today in the journal Cell Stem Cell, suggests that the evolution of a subset of glia called astrocytes – which are larger and more complex in humans than other species – may have been one of the key events that led to the higher cognitive functions that distinguish us from other species.

    The role of the astrocyte is to provide the perfect environment for neural transmission, said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., co-senior author of the study and director, along with Dr. Steven Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., of the URMC Center for Translational Neuromedicine. As the same time, we've observed that as these cells have evolved in complexity, size, and diversity – as they have in humans – brain function becomes more and more complex.

  • February 11, 2013

    NGP Student, Simantini Ghosh, Wins Travel Award to AD/PD Conference

    Simantini receiving the award from AD/PD conference chair, Dr.Roger Nitsch.

    Congratulations to NGP Graduate Student, Simantini Ghosh on winning a travel award to present her work at the 11th International Conference on Alzheimer's & Parkinson's Disease in Florence, Italy on March 6-10, 2013. Simi works in Dr. Kerry O'Banion's lab, studying the effects of sustained Interleukin 1 beta overexpression on Alzheimer's disease pathology in transgenic mice.

  • February 6, 2013

    NGP Student, Anasuya Das, Wins Travel Award to ECVP

    Congratulations to NGP Graduate Student, Anasuya Das on winning a travel award to present her work at the European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP) in Alghero, Italy on September 2-6, 2012. Anasuya works in Dr. Krystel Huxlin's lab in the Visual Training & Rehabilitation Lab. Her poster was entitled, Beyond blindsight: perceptual re-learning of visual motion discrimination in cortical blindness improves static orientation discrimination.

  • January 10, 2013

    Study: Model for Brain Signaling Flawed

    A new study out today in the journal Science turns two decades of understanding about how brain cells communicate on its head. The study demonstrates that the tripartite synapse – a model long accepted by the scientific community and one in which multiple cells collaborate to move signals in the central nervous system – does not exist in the adult brain.

    Our findings demonstrate that the tripartite synaptic model is incorrect, said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., lead author of the study and co-director of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Center for Translational Neuromedicine. This concept does not represent the process for transmitting signals between neurons in the brain beyond the developmental stage.

  • January 3, 2013

    A Trip to Mars Could Increase Chances of Alzheimer's for Astronauts

    As if space travel was not already filled with enough dangers, a new study out today in the journal PLOS ONE shows that cosmic radiation – which would bombard astronauts on deep space missions to places like Mars – could accelerate the onset of Alzheimer's disease.



    Galactic cosmic radiation poses a significant threat to future astronauts, said M. Kerry O'Banion, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy and the senior author of the study. The possibility that radiation exposure in space may give rise to health problems such as cancer has long been recognized. However, this study shows for the first time that exposure to radiation levels equivalent to a mission to Mars could produce cognitive problems and speed up changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer's disease.

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