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NGP Student Wins Grand Prize

Monday, November 24, 2014

Jennifer Stripay, NSC PH.D. Candidate

Jennifer Stripay, NSC PH.D. Candidate

Congratulations to NGP student Jennifer Stripay from the Mark Noble Lab, who has won the Grand Prize at the recent Wilmot Cancer Institute's 19th Annual Scientific Symposium.

Well done Jennifer!

Doug Portman Elected to Succeed Krystel Huxlin as Next President of the Rochester Chapter of SfN

Monday, October 20, 2014

Douglas Portman will start his term as President of the Chapter January 1st, 2015.
Thank you for everyone who participated in the first presidential elections.
Thank you Krystel for serving as the first President and for reviving the Chapter.

Read More: Doug Portman Elected to Succeed Krystel Huxlin as Next President of the Rochester Chapter of SfN

'Red Effect' Sparks Interest in Female Monkeys

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ben Hayden, Ph.D.

Ben Hayden, Ph.D.

Recent studies have indicated that the color red tends to increase human attraction toward others, feelings of jealousy, and reaction times. New research by Ben Hayden, assistant professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, shows that female monkeys also respond to the color red, suggesting that biology, rather than culture, may play a fundamental role in red responses.

Read more about Red Effects...

Male Brains Wired to Ignore Food in Favour of Sex, Study Shows

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Douglas Portman, Ph.D.

Douglas Portman, Ph.D.

Males can suppress their hunger in order to focus on finding a mate, a new scientific study of a species of worm has shown.

The study, conducted by Douglas Portman at the University of Rochester Medical Center, points to how subtle changes in the brain's circuitry dictate differences in behaviour between males and females.

University Mourns the Sudden Loss of David Knill

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

David Knill

David Knill

David C. Knill, professor of brain and cognitive sciences, and associate director of the Center for Visual Science, passed away suddenly on October 6th at the age of 53.

The University has more information in their newscenter.


The Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences has created a memorial website. From this site, you can post tributes or stories about Dave and invite friends and colleagues to post their own contributions.

NGP Alumna and NGP Faculty Publication in J. Neuroscience

Friday, September 12, 2014

Alumna, Maria Diehl, and NGP faculty, Lizabeth Romanski, published a paper in August 2014 edition of the Journal of Neuroscience on Responses of Prefrontal Multisensory Neurons to Mismatching Faces and Vocalizations.Read More: NGP Alumna and NGP Faculty Publication in J. Neuroscience

Michele Saul Accepts Faculty Position at St. John Fisher

Monday, September 1, 2014

Michele Saul, PhD

Michele Saul, PhD

Dr. Michele Saul has accepted a position as Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology beginning this Fall. Michele was a popular instructor in ANA 258 here at the UR, where she worked with Dr. Martha Johnson-Gdowski. In addition to her new faculty position, she will continue part-time as a Postdoctoral student in our lab developing her studies on adolescent stress models in rodents.

Make sure to congratulate her!!

NGP 1st Year Students Were Awarded Convocation Awards

Monday, September 1, 2014

Three first year NGP students received Convocation Awards this year.

  • Laura Duclos was awarded the Graduate Alumni Fellowship Award
  • Rianne Stowell received the Merritt & Marjorie Cleveland Fellowship Award
  • Jessica Hogestyn received the Irving Spar Fellowship Award

Congratulations to All!

2014 NGP Student Award Recipients

Friday, August 1, 2014

Congratulations to this year's Award Recipients

  • Grayson Sipe won a travel award from the Schmitt Program in Integrative Brain Research to attend the EMBL Conference, Microglia: Guardians of the Brain, held on 26-29 March 2014 in Heidelberg, Germany.
  • Heather Natola won a travel award from the Schmitt Program in Integrative Brain Research to attend the 45th annual American Society of Neurochemistry meeting in Long Beach, CA, March 8-12, 2014.
  • Adrianne Chesser received a travel award to attend the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark on July 12-17, 2014 where she presented a poster.
  • Julianne Feola received a travel award from Graduate Women in Science to attend the Gordon Research Conference in Italy from June 29 - July 4,2014.
  • Ryan Dawes was awarded a Trainee Scholar Award from the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society.

William "Bill" O'Neill Retires from URMC

Monday, June 30, 2014

Bill O'Neill

William E. O'Neill, PhD

After more than 35 years of service to URMC, Bill has retired to devote more time to personal endeavors. He will remain deeply involved in the studies of his current students who appreciate his wealth of expertise.

Bill was Associate Professor in both the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy at the Medical Center and for Brain/Cognitive Sciences on the River Campus. He will be deeply missed.

Make sure to congratulate him when you see him.

Paige Stepping Aside as Chair of Neurobiology & Anatomy

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Gary D. Paige, M.D., Ph.D., is stepping down after 16 years of service as chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy. M. Kerry O’Banion, M.D., Ph.D., will serve as interim chair effective July 1, 2014 while a national search for a permanent chair is conducted.

NGP Alumna Links Playing Fantasy Sports with Neuroscience

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Renee M. Miller, Ph.D. earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester. Her current research is focused on sex differences in behavioral choices. She is a Lecturer in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences where she teaches several neuroscience courses to undergraduates. Dr. Miller is an avid fantasy player, enjoying seasonal as well as daily fantasy NFL, NBA, and MLB. Recently, Dr. Miller published a book entitled Cognitive Bias in Fantasy Sports: Is Your Brain Sabotaging Your Team?

Richard Aslin Inducted into National Academy of Sciences

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Richard Aslin, the William R. Kenan Professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and director of the Rochester Center for Brain Imaging, was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences at its 151st annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Read More: Richard Aslin Inducted into National Academy of Sciences

NGP Student Receives Trainee Award

Friday, May 9, 2014

Ryan Dawes, a third year NGP student in Dr. Ed Brown's lab was awarded a Trainee Award from the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society.

NGP Student Wins Travel Award

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Congratulations to NGP graduate student Julianne Feola who won a travel award from Graduate Women in Science to attend the Gordon Research Conference in Italy from June 29 – July 4, 2014.

David Williams Named to National Academy of Sciences

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Vision scientist David Williams, the William G. Allyn Professor of Medical Optics, Dean for Research in Arts, Sciences & Engineering, and Director of the Center for Visual Science, has been named a member of the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Two NGP Students Win Schmitt Program on Integrative Brain Research Travel Awards

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Grayson Sipe, a 4thNGP student in Dr. Ania Majewska's lab and Heather Natola, a second-year student in Dr. Christoph Pröschel and Margot Mayer-Pröschel labs won the travel awards. Grayson used this award to attend the EMBL Conference: Microglia: Guardians of the Brain, March 26-29, 2014, held in Berlin, Germany, and Heather used it to travel to the 45th annual American Society of Neurochemistry meeting in Long Beach, CA, March 8-12, 2014

NGP Alumna Jill Weimer Receives her First R01

Friday, April 4, 2014

Study will explore intracellular trafficking

A grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will provide Sanford Research’s Jill Weimer, PhD, with $1.75 million over five years to study intracellular trafficking in neurological disorders such as the rare pediatric Batten disease.

Read More: NGP Alumna Jill Weimer Receives her First R01

Match Day 2014: Medical Scientist Training Program Matches 9 Students Across the Nation

Monday, March 24, 2014

By Kyle Koster, Public Relations Chair

Friday, March 21 was a bright day for the Medical Scientist Training Program. As the seconds ticked closer to noon, the buzz in Helen Wood Hall escalated, only to be replaced by a sudden silence as MSTP and medical students tore open envelopes revealing the programs to which they matched for residency training. This year was a particularly interesting and successful year for the MSTP. Students matched to top choices across the country; four MSTP students matched to West Coast programs and three to East Coast programs, with one student remaining in Rochester and another on to New Mexico. The choice of specialties was similarly broad, with four students matching into surgical specialties, two students into internal medicine, and three into the behavioral sciences.

This May, the program graduates nine students, all of whom matched on Friday. The MSTP congratulates its Class of 2014 with a graduation brunch at Mario's on April 27.

MSTP MATCH LIST 2014

Melisa Carrasco
Univ. of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, MD
Pediatrics-Preliminary/Child Neurology
Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD
Child Neurology
Joanna Olsen
Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR
Anesthesiology/Critical Care Medicine
Scott Peslak
Hospital of the U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Internal Medicine–ABIM Research Track
Phillip Rappold
University of Rochester Medical Center, NY
Surgery-Preliminary/Urology
Danny Rogers
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
Pediatrics-Preliminary/Child Neurology
Mercedes Szpunar
University of California, San Diego Medical Center, CA
Psychiatry–Research Track
Edward Vuong
North Shore-LIJ Health System, Manhasset, NY
Internal Medicine
Ethan Winkler
University of California, San Francisco, CA
Neurological Surgery
Michael Wu
University of California, San Francisco, CA
Anesthesiology–Research Track

Duje Tadin is the 2014 winner of the Elsevier/Vision Sciences Society Young Investigator Award

Friday, March 21, 2014

Associate Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Center for Visual Science, Department of Ophthalmology, University Of Rochester, NY, USA

Duje Tadin is the 2014 winner of the Elsevier/VSS Young Investigator Award.

Trained at Vanderbilt, Duje Tadin was awarded the PhD. in Psychology in 2004 under the supervision of Joe Lappin. After 3 years of post-doctoral work in Randolph Blake's lab, he took up a position at the University of Rochester, where he is currently an associate professor.

Duje's broad research goal is to elucidate neural mechanisms that lead to human visual experience. He seeks converging experimental evidence from a range of methods, including human psychophysics, computational modeling, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), neuroimaging, research on special populations, collaborations on primate neurophysiology, and adaptive optics to control retinal images.

Understanding Autism

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Loisa Bennetto, director of the developmental neuropsychology lab in the Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, will present a talk on Understanding Autism at the next "Got Health?" event on Thursday, March 20. The free lecture will be held from 12:10 to 12:50 p.m. in the Rundel Auditorium at the Rochester Central Library, 115 South Ave. The talk is sponsored by the Center for Community Health in partnership with the Central Library.

Grayson Sipe Awarded Individual Pre-doctoral Fellowship from NINDS

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Grayson Sipe, 4th year Neuroscience Graduate Program student in Dr. Ania Majewska's lab was awarded NIH (NRSA) Individual Pre-doctoral Fellowship from NINDS. The title of his project is: Role of P2Y12 and Purinergic Signaling in Microglia-Mediated Synaptic Plasticity (2013-2016). Congrats Grayson!

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

Friday, November 22, 2013

Cochlear Inner Hair Cell

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.

Read More: NBA's Patricia White's Research Featured in Journal of Neuroscience

Professor Laurel Carney Receives NIH-NIDCD Grant Renewal

Thursday, November 21, 2013

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.

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

Friday, November 1, 2013

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.

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

Seeing in the Dark

Thursday, October 31, 2013

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.

Read More: Seeing in the Dark

Students Receive Awards at Neuroscience Retreat

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

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.

Doctor Left Behind Story in Search of Ending

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

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.)

Neuroscience Retreat to Feature Nobel Laureate

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

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.

Ethan Winkler Wins 2013 Vincent du Vigneaud Commencement Award

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ethan Winkler

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!

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

Saturday, August 10, 2013

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!

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

Saturday, August 10, 2013

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!

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

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

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.

NGP Students Christina Cloninger and Colin Lockwood Awarded Graduate Fellowship

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

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.

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

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

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.

Faculty to Be Featured on Radio Show

Monday, August 5, 2013

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.

Huntington's Brain Cells Regenerated, in Mice

Thursday, June 6, 2013

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.

Read More: Huntington's Brain Cells Regenerated, in Mice

Motion Quotient

Thursday, May 23, 2013

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.

Read More: Motion Quotient

W. Spencer Klubben Wins Walt and Bobbi Makous Prize

Friday, May 17, 2013

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.

Kids With Autism Quick To Detect Motion

Friday, May 10, 2013

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.

Read More: Kids With Autism Quick To Detect Motion

Autistic Children See Movement Twice as Quickly as Those Without Condition

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Children with autism see simple movement twice as quickly as other children their age, according to a new study. Scientists think 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.

Read More: Autistic Children See Movement Twice as Quickly as Those Without Condition

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

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

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.

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

Richard Aslin Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Richard Aslin

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.

Read More: Richard Aslin Elected to National Academy of Sciences

NGP Graduate Student Kelli Fagan Wins Poster Award

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

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!

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

Thursday, April 4, 2013

NGP student Revathi Balasubramanian and Dr. Barbara Davis

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!

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Neuroscience Graduate Program 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.

NPR Features Current Nedergaard-Goldman Publication; Glial Research

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Human glial cell within mouse glial cells

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.

Read More: NPR Features Current Nedergaard-Goldman Publication; Glial Research

Support Cells Found in Human Brain Make Mice Smarter

Thursday, March 7, 2013

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.

Read More: Support Cells Found in Human Brain Make Mice Smarter

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

Monday, February 11, 2013

Simantini Ghost receiving Travel Award at 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.

NGP Student, Anasuya Das, Wins Travel Award to ECVP

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

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.

Study: Model for Brain Signaling Flawed

Thursday, January 10, 2013

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.

Read More: Study: Model for Brain Signaling Flawed

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

Thursday, January 3, 2013

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.

Jennifer Stripay Appointed Student Representative To Alumni Council

Friday, December 14, 2012

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.

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

Thursday, December 13, 2012

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."

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

Study Details Brain Damage Triggered by Mini-Strokes

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

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."

Read More: Study Details Brain Damage Triggered by Mini-Strokes

Upstate Stem Cell cGMP Facility Opens

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Stephen Dewhurst, Ph.D.

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.

Richard Aslin Elected Fellow of the Cognitive Science Society

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Richard Aslin, Ph.D.

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.

Read More: Richard Aslin Elected Fellow of the Cognitive Science Society

Registration Open for Annual Neurosciences Retreat

Thursday, November 1, 2012

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 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.

Scientists Create Endless Supply of Myelin-Forming Cells

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Astrocytes in the brain

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.

Read More: Scientists Create Endless Supply of Myelin-Forming Cells

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

Thursday, September 20, 2012

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.

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

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dr. David Williams, Ph.D.

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.

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

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

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.

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

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.

2012 NGP Students Receive Funding From NINDS

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Recently the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) awarded several of our Neuroscience Graduate Program 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 grant. 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.

NGP Student Adam Pallus Awarded a Competitive Graduate Fellowship From CVS

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

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.

NGP Student Revathi Balasubramanian Appointed to the Predoctoral NYSTEM Training Grant

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Revathi Balasubramanian, a Neuroscience Graduate Program 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.

Scientists Discover Previously Unknown Cleansing System in Brain

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

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.

Read More: Scientists Discover Previously Unknown Cleansing System in Brain

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

Monday, July 16, 2012

Control 3

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.

Danielle deCampo is Awarded NRSA Individual Fellowship

Sunday, July 15, 2012

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.

Danielle deCampo wins Travel Award to ACNP

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

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!

NGP Student Wei Sun Receives Fellowship From AHA

Friday, June 29, 2012

Photo of Wei Sun

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 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.

Dr. Tatiana Pasternak Elected Secretary of the Society for Neuroscience

Thursday, June 14, 2012

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.

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

Thursday, May 24, 2012

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.

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

NGP Graduate Receives 2012 Fenn Commencement Award

Thursday, May 24, 2012

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.

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

Monday, April 16, 2012

Robert Joynt

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.

Read More: A Pillar of Modern Neurology, Robert J. Joynt, Dies

The Science Behind Self-Control

Friday, April 13, 2012

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.

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

Thursday, March 29, 2012

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."

Read More: Once Considered Mainly ‘Brain Glue,’ Astrocytes’ Power Revealed

Former Biophysics Chair and Senior Dean of Graduate Studies Dies

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

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.

Read More: Former Biophysics Chair and Senior Dean of Graduate Studies Dies

Each Flick of a Digit Is a Job for All 5

Monday, February 27, 2012

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.

Read More: Each Flick of a Digit Is a Job for All 5

Neuroscientist Benjamin Hayden Named 2012 Sloan Research Fellow

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

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.

Read More: Neuroscientist Benjamin Hayden Named 2012 Sloan Research Fellow

A Step Forward In Effort to Regenerate Damaged Nerves

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Thriving DRG cells

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.

Read More: A Step Forward In Effort to Regenerate Damaged Nerves

Antipsychotic Meds Tied to Diabetes in Kids

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pills spilling from bottle

The antipsychotic drugs that are increasingly being used to treat bipolar disorder, autism and other mental disorders in children may come with an increased risk of diabetes, a new study suggests. Previous research has linked the so-called second-generation antipsychotics to an increased risk of diabetes in adults. And there's been some evidence that the drugs can cause weight gain in children.

The new findings, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, add to concerns that the medications may ultimately lead to diabetes in some kids. And it's the growing use of the drugs in kids—particularly for conditions in which the benefit is unclear—that makes the potential diabetes risk concerning, according to Dr. Jonathan Mink, chief of child neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

These medications can be very helpful in certain settings, said Mink, who is also part of a pediatric advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In September, the panel recommended that the agency keep monitoring the risks of weight gain and diabetes in children on antipsychotics.

Read More: Antipsychotic Meds Tied to Diabetes in Kids

Nerve Cells Key to Making Sense of Our Senses

Monday, November 21, 2011

The human brain is bombarded with a cacophony of information from the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and skin. Now a team of scientists at the University of Rochester, Washington University in St. Louis, and Baylor College of Medicine has unraveled how the brain manages to process those complex, rapidly changing, and often conflicting sensory signals to make sense of our world.

The study, published online Nov. 20 in Nature Neuroscience, represents the first direct evidence of how the brain combines multiple sources of sensory information to form as accurate a perception as possible of its environment, the researchers report.

The discovery may eventually lead to new therapies for people with Alzheimer's disease and other disorders that impair a person's sense of self-motion, says study coauthor Greg DeAngelis, professor and chair of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester. This deeper understanding of how brain circuits combine different sensory cues could also help scientists and engineers to design more sophisticated artificial nervous systems such as those used in robots, he adds.

Read More: Nerve Cells Key to Making Sense of Our Senses

Autistic Children May Have Too Many Brain Cells, Study Says

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The brains of autistic children have far more neurons in the prefrontal cortex than the brains of kids without autism, finds a new study that could advance research into the disorder. For the first time, we have the potential to understand why autism gets started, said study author Eric Courchesne, a professor of neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and director of the Autism Center of Excellence.

The prefrontal cortex is key to complex thoughts and behaviors, including language, social behavior and decision-making. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is closely linked with executive function, including planning, reasoning and very high level cognition, said Lizabeth Romanski, an associate professor of Neurobiology & Anatomy at the University of Rochester Medical Center, who was not involved with the research. The medial prefrontal cortex is thought to be important to social and other behavior and emotions.

Read More: Autistic Children May Have Too Many Brain Cells, Study Says

Jacqueline Williams, Major Lab Collaborator, Appointed to Prestigious Leadership Positions

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jacqueline P. Williams, Ph.D., a University of Rochester faculty member and internationally recognized expert in radiation biology, has been named to leadership positions at three of the leading radiation oncology and research organizations in the world.

The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) named Williams chair of its Scientific Research Council at the Society's 53rd annual meeting, held in Miami Beach, Fla. Williams was also recognized as one of 21 distinguished members that received ASTRO's Fellow designation at a ceremony during the meeting.

Read More: Jacqueline Williams, Major Lab Collaborator, Appointed to Prestigious Leadership Positions

Neuroscience Alumnus Receives Robert Doty Award

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dr. Peter Shrager and Dr. Steven Raiker

Dr. Peter Shrager and Dr. Steven Raiker at the 2011 Neuroscience Retreat

Stephen Raiker, 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. Through his thesis research, Dr. Raiker joined the laboratory of Dr. Roman Giger and began collaborating with Dr. Peter Shrager, who ultimately became his co-advisor.

Dr. Raiker's research on the physiological role of Nogo receptors in axon plasticity and regeneration culminated in two publications in The Journal of Neuroscience, one as co-first author and one as first author. He was a contributing author on two additional papers plus a review article, and he presented his research at several international meetings. After defending his thesis, Dr. Raiker was subsequently selected as the 2011 recipient of the Vincent du Vigneaud Commencement Award for Meritorious Research. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Thomas Schwarz in the F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Children's Hospital Boston.

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.

Neuroscience Holds Annual Retreat

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Neuroscience Graduate Program Retreat Group Photo 2011

Faculty members, students, staff, and postdoctoral
fellows at the 2011 Neuroscience Retreat.

On October 17, 2011, the 2011 Neuroscience retreat was held at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY. There was a great turnout for the event with 147 faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, and students in attendance.

Some of the highlights included M.D./Ph.D. student, Mike Wu, winning the award for the best student poster, Sustained Interleukin-1β Expression Severely Impairs Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis Despite Voluntary Running and Emily Kelly, an NBA post-doctoral fellow, winning the award for the best postdoc poster, Ultrastructural Distribution of ICAM-5 (Telencephalin) in Mouse Visual Cortex.

The retreat was capped off by several intriguing lectures and presentations, a poster session, great food, and a terrific keynote/Notter lecture by Dr. Carol Barnes.

Has Your Brain Already Crystallized?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

As it turns out, keeping pace in ever-more-electronic world is no small feat for the aging brain. That's because our mental circuitry – the most frequently used neuron pathways, like well-traveled roads – tends to crystallize into a series of expressways over time. But that doesn't mean paving new paths (by, say, learning in middle age) is a lost cause – it just demands special learning techniques and a little more patience.

That's heartening news for adults who are headed back to school, shifting careers in later life, or simply want to be lifelong learners, says neuropsychologist Dr. Mark Mapstone. In the clip below, he sheds more light on our amazing (and aging) brains.

NBA Assistant Professor, David Kornack, Ph.D., Awarded Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

David

Dr. David Kornack as he receives his award
from Alexis Pilato, Class of 2014

Assistant Professor David Kornack, Ph.D., in the department of Neurobiology & Anatomy, has received The Manuel D. Goldman Prize for Excellence in First Year Teaching. This prize was established in 1981 in memory of Manuel D. Goldman and is awarded each year by the first year class to recognize a member of the faculty for excellence in first year teaching.

Dr. Kornack, who is very popular among the NBA and NGP students, teaches the first year medical course, Human Structure and Function and the neuroscience course, Mind, Brain & Behavior. He also co-directs a course with Dr. Kathy Nordeen for the Neuroscience majors called NSC 203: Laboratory in Neurobiology and directs the course NSC 302: Senior Seminar in Neuroscience. In addition, he lectures in the undergraduate courses, BCS 249: Developmental Neurobiology and BME 258: Human Anatomy.

NBA Associate Professor, Dr. Barbara Davis, Ph.D., Honored for Excellence in Teaching

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Associate Professor Barabara Davis, Ph.D., in the department of Neurobiology & Anatomy, has once again been honored for excellence in teaching. She has been honored six times recently (five years in a row) for Commendations for Excellence in Teaching in the First Year (2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), and was the recipient of the Alumni Association Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2006. A faculty member at the University of Rochester since 1984, this is Dr. Davis's 16th teaching award since 1995.

Dr. Davis is currently the course director for the anatomic sciences strand of HSF where she teaches anatomy and histology. She also teaches the carbohydrate metabolism section of Molecules to Cells, teaches in the Mind Brain Behavior course, a human anatomy course (BME 258) for the Biomedical Engineering department, the anatomy component of the SURF program, and runs the Prematriculation Human Biology course. Additionally, she is also the director of the Medical Education Pathway.

NGP Graduate Student Receives F30 NIH Individual Predoctoral Fellowship

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Neuroscience graduate program student, Phillip Rappold has received an F30 NIH Individual Predoctoral Fellowship for 3 years, entitled Role of mitochondrial dynamics in Parkinson's disease processes and therapeutics.

Stop Stroke Before it Stops You - 4 Things You Should Know

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ask any number of men what they think their odds of having a stroke are, and you might find many of them believe stroke is frighteningly unpredictable and can attack like a bolt from the blue – without warning, trailing death and disability in its wake.

That idea is dangerously wrong. The truth is that a stroke is the bullet at the end of a very long barrel and there is a lot you can do to dodge it.

The path to stroke can be started by heart disease – especially if you have an irregular heartbeat. It also can be started by arterial disease – especially if there is a build-up of plaque in the arteries of the neck. The chain of events that begins with cardiovascular disease and ends in stroke can take years, or even decades to evolve. You probably will not know that it is happening.

NGP Graduate Student Receives Irving L. Spar Fellowship Award

Thursday, September 22, 2011

First year student in the Neuroscience graduate program, Jennifer Stripay has been selected by the faculty to be this year's recipient of the Irving L. Spar Fellowship Award. Jennifer's selection was based on her outstanding credentials and the faculty opinion that she has unusual potential for future meritorious contributions in her field. The Irving L. Spar Fellowship Award honors the memory of Dr. Spar, a former Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in the School of Medicine and Dentistry. It is awarded annually to a deserving graduate student entering the School through the Graduate Education in the Biomedical Sciences Program.

Need More Memory (No, We’re Not Talking RAM)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Searching frantically for misplaced car keys. Fumbling for the name of a new acquaintance. Providing an accurate eye-witness testimony. Treasuring past moments with a loved one lost. What, exactly, is this thing we call “memory”? How do our brains manage to process, store and recall so much sensory footage – even lifeless data, like phone numbers – almost reflexively?

Neuropsychologist Dr. Mark Mapstone co-directs URMC's memory care clinic, which features a team of neurologists, psychiatrists, a geriatrician, a neuropsychologist, a psychometrician (expert in measuring psychological function), a social worker and a nurse practitioner. He weighs in on these and other burning questions in the clip below.

NSC Alumna Publishes New Book

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sandra Aamodt, a Neuroscience graduate from the University of Rochester in 1994, has recently published a new book, Welcome to Your Child's Brain. This is the follow up to her 2008 book (co-authored with Sam Wang) entitled, Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys but Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life. Sandra is the former Editor in Chief of Nature Neuroscience.

MSTP, NSC Graduate Student Receives F30 Fellowship

Thursday, September 8, 2011

MSTP, NSC graduate student, Adrianne Chesser, has received an F30 Fellowship from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, for her project entitled: Mitochondrial Dynamics Underlie Gene-Environment Interactions in Parkinson's. The mission of the NIEHS is to reduce the burden of human illness and disability by understanding how the environment influences the development and progression of human disease.

Stem Cell Efforts to Treat Neurological Disease Bolstered With $4.5 Million

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Human Oligodendrocytes and Astrocytes from Progenitor Cells

Human oligodendrocytes and astrocytes generated from human neural progenitor cells.

The endeavor to find better treatments or perhaps even one day a cure for a host of debilitating and fatal neurological diseases has been bolstered by an influx of funding from a mix of private and public sources.

he laboratory headed by Steven Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, has received $4.5 million in new funding to further its efforts to use stem cells and related molecules to treat several feared disorders for which there are currently no cures – including multiple sclerosis, Huntington's disease, and fatal childhood diseases known as pediatric leukodystrophies.

Read More: Stem Cell Efforts to Treat Neurological Disease Bolstered With $4.5 Million

2011 NGP Students Receive Funding From NINDS

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Recently the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) awarded several of our Neuroscience graduate students training grants. This year, a first year NGP student, Jennifer Stripay, as well as second year students, Kelli Fagan, Julianne Feola, John O'Donnell, Fatima Rivera-Escalera, Grayson Sipe received funding. 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.

Healthy Living: Batten Disease

Monday, August 29, 2011

Staring at a computer screen wasn't exactly what Nicole Newhouse envisioned for her career. It didn't take long for her to find a subject that sparked a new passion. Newhouse said, You have children that are dying. Point blank, you have children that are dying. Newhouse is enrolling patients in the first controlled clinical trial for batten disease. We don't have a cure right now. We can't tell parents 'you take this and your child's going to be ok, said Newhouse.

Batten disease is a neurological disorder that usually appears in children ages four to eight years old. Early symptoms of the disease include sudden vision problems. That's quickly followed by a loss of motor skills, mental impairment and eventually death. Try to imagine what it's like for the parents to watch their child basically dying before their eyes. Over many years, it's the kind of thing that as a physician you see and think you know I want to do something to help, said Dr. Jonathan Mink, professor in the departments of Neurology, Neurobiology & Anatomy, Pediatrics, and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Read More: Healthy Living: Batten Disease

'Bubble Boy' Kids Living Normally After Gene Therapy: Study

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

More than a dozen children with so-called "bubble boy" disease are alive and well, with functioning immune systems, nine years after undergoing gene therapy to correct their disorder, researchers report.

Most of the patients attend school with other children, something that probably would have been fatal without treatment.

"The promise of gene therapy is being fulfilled, at least for these diseases, where a number of patients are walking around in good health because they had gene therapy," said Dr. Donald Kohn, professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics and pediatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The disorder -- severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) -- compromises the immune system so severely that children can't fight off normally innocuous infections. The condition is rare, and the term "bubble boy" was coined after a Texas boy with the condition lived in a germ-free plastic bubble.

Read More: 'Bubble Boy' Kids Living Normally After Gene Therapy: Study

Award to Neuroscientist Boosts Mental Health Research

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Human Brain Showing Sites Active in Reward and Decision Making

Brain areas involved in making decisions
about rewards are highlighted.

A Rochester neuroscientist whose laboratory research has already helped patients has received a prestigious award to explore new opportunities to help people with conditions like schizophrenia, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and addiction.

Suzanne Haber, Ph.D., professor of Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, has received a Distinguished Investigator Grant from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. She is one of 15 scholars nationwide to receive the award, also known as a NARSAD award (the foundation was previously known as the National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Depression). Each recipient receives $100,000 toward new research aimed at alleviating the suffering caused by mental illness.

Haber is a world leader uncovering and understanding the wiring in a highly sophisticated part of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain involved in decision-making that involves reward and potential risk. The prefrontal cortex is what prompts us to forego a box of cookies for breakfast, for instance, so we can reach our long-term weight-loss goal, or that helps keep a student studying late at night in the quest to obtain her college degree, instead of partying with friends.

Read More: Award to Neuroscientist Boosts Mental Health Research

Neuroscientists Find Famous Optical Illusion Surprisingly Potent

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Scientists have come up with new insight into the brain processes that cause an age-old illusion, first documented by Aristotle. The illusion is called the Motion Aftereffect by today's scientists, but why does it happen, though? Is it because we are consciously aware that the background is moving in one direction, causing our brains to shift their frame of reference so that we can ignore this motion? Or is it an automatic, subconscious response?

Davis Glasser, a doctoral student in the University of Rochester's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences thinks he has found the answer. The results of a study done by Glasser, along with his advisor, Professor Duje Tadin, and colleagues James Tsui and Christopher Pack of the Montreal Neurological Institute, will be published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). In their paper, the scientists show that humans experience the Motion Aftereffect even if the motion that they see in the background is so brief that they can't even tell whether it is heading to the right or the left.

Read More: Neuroscientists Find Famous Optical Illusion Surprisingly Potent

First Controlled Clinical Trial for Juvenile Batten Disease to Start

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

After years of building hope for a treatment, Rochester researchers and clinicians will begin the first controlled clinical trial for Juvenile Batten disease this summer, thanks to $1 million in grants from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Batten Disease Support and Research Association (BDSRA). The trial will examine whether mycophenolate mofetil, a drug FDA-approved to suppress the immune system and prevent organ rejection in children, is safe for these children and whether it can slow or halt the progression of the fatal neurodegenerative disease.

“Families have been anxiously awaiting word on when we could launch this clinical trial,” said Frederick Marshall, M.D., principal investigator of the trial and Associate Professor of Neurology. “Juvenile Batten Disease is very rare, but the families are very close and well-informed about potential treatments. They have been watching the progress of this research and hoping for the day when we could launch the trial.”

Juvenile Batten disease is a lysosomal-storage disease that strikes seemingly healthy children and progressively robs them of their abilities to see, reason and move. It ultimately kills them in late adolescence or young adulthood. Batten disease is in the same family of diseases as Krabbe disease to which former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly lost his son, Hunter, in 2005.

Read More: First Controlled Clinical Trial for Juvenile Batten Disease to Start

Neuroscience Student Wins Vincent du Vigneaud Award

Friday, May 13, 2011

Neuroscience graduate student, Steven Raiker has won this year's Vincent du Vigneaud Award for meritorious research by a Ph.D. student in the Medical School. Raiker, who recently defended his thesis entitled, The Nogo-66 Receptor, NgR1, Regulates Structural and Functional Plasticity at Schaffer Collateral-CA1 Synapses, was advised by Drs. Roman Geiger and Peter Shrager.

Two Defective Proteins Conspire to Impair the Nerve Cell’s ‘Powerhouse’ in Alzheimer Disease

Friday, May 13, 2011

Two proteins that are abnormally modified in the brains of patients with Alzheimer disease collude, resulting in ill effects on the crucial energy centers of brain cells, according to new findings published online in Neurobiology of Aging. The research raises the possibility that pathological forms of two proteins, amyloid beta and tau, which make up the pathological hallmarks of the brains of Alzheimer patients – plaques and tangles – may work in tandem to decrease the survival of brain cells.

The idea that amyloid beta and tau may work together to cause mischief in the brain has been an evolving theme among scientists for a number of years, said Gail Johnson, Ph.D., professor of Anesthesiology and the corresponding author of the paper. The precise relationship between the two pathologies is unclear, but there may be a synergy between the two when it comes to their effects on mitochondria in Alzheimer disease.

Read More: Two Defective Proteins Conspire to Impair the Nerve Cell’s ‘Powerhouse’ in Alzheimer Disease

MSTP, NSC Graduate Student Susan Lee Receives Trainee Travel Award

Thursday, April 7, 2011

MSTP and Neuroscience student, Susan Lee has received a Trainee Travel Award to present her research at the Organization for Human Brain Mapping's 17th Annual Meeting in Quebec City, Canada on June 26-30, 2011. Susan is currently working in Dr. Loisa Bennetto's lab on Audiovisual Integration During Language Comprehension: The Neural Basis of Social Communication in Autism and Typical Development.

Pre-Conception and Early Pregnancy Iron Deficiency Harms Brain

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A mother's iron deficiency early in pregnancy may have a profound and long-lasting effect on the brain development of the child, even if the lack of iron is not enough to cause severe anemia, according to a University of Rochester Medical Center study published in the scientific journal PLoS One.

What convinced us to conduct the present study were our preliminary data suggesting that cells involved in building the embryonic brain during the first trimester were most sensitive to low iron levels, said Margot Mayer-Proschel, Ph.D., the lead researcher and an associate professor of Biomedical Genetics at URMC.

Co-author Anne Luebke, Ph.D., an associate professor of Biomedical Engineering and Neurobiology & Anatomy at UR, suggested and directed the use of ABR testing, which can detect the speed of information moving from the ear to the brain.

Read More: Pre-Conception and Early Pregnancy Iron Deficiency Harms Brain

NSC Graduate Student Awarded NIH Individual Predoctoral Fellowship Award

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Crystal McClain, a graduate student in Neuroscience, was awarded an NIH Individual Predoctoral Fellowship Award. Crystal currently works in the Goldman Lab and studies the signaling pathways of both fetal and adult glial progenitor cells, and the molecular bases for the fate decisions that determine whether progenitors become oligodendrocytes or astrocytes, a key determinant of both remyelination and gliosis after injury.

Robert Doty, Eminent Neuroscientist, Dies at 91

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dr. Robert Doty, PhD

Robert Doty

It is with deep personal sadness that I inform the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, as well as the broader neuroscience and UR community, that our own Bob Doty passed away on Friday, January 14th, 2011. Bob had been a monumental presence in our midst for decades, and was arguably our most eminent neuroscientist on campus. A friend to many, and admired by all who knew him, we will miss his remarkable and steadfast presence among us, as well as his routine appearance at seminars--always with that extraordinary flair for insightful questions and comments. It was truly fitting that our last departmental winter banquet was held in honor and celebration of Bob near his 90th birthday. At the wishes of Bob's family, plans for a memorial will be considered in the spring.

- Gary D. Paige, M.D., Ph.D., Chair Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy

Read More: Robert Doty, Eminent Neuroscientist, Dies at 91

Dr. Gary Paige Featured on Second Opinion Episode

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dr. Gary Paige, Professor and former Chair of Neurobiology & Anatomy, was a featured panelist on the web-based TV show, Second Opinion. The basis of this show was dizziness and vertigo of which Dr. Paige is an expert. Dr. Paige also runs the Balance Disorders and Dizziness Clinic at the University of Rochester.

Read More: Dr. Gary Paige Featured on Second Opinion Episode

Microglia: A Standing Ovation, Please!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Representation of the structure of a synapse

Structure of a Synapse

New research from the Majewska Lab at University of Rochester Medical Center is revealing even more reasons to stand up and applaud the microglia. It turns out that microglia serve more than immune functions. They are essential to learning and memory. This research suggests that a lot of what is going on in that synaptic gap is engineered by the microglia.

The research team, led by Ania Majewska, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the department of Neurobiology & Anatomy, used two imaging techniques to study the microglia in the animals' brains during these various stages. When the lights were off, microglia contacted more synapses, were more likely to reach toward a particular type of synapse, tended to be larger, and were more likely to destroy a synapse. When the lights came back on, most of those activities reversed.

The finding that activity among microglia changed in response to visual inputs was, in itself, surprising. Just the fact that microglia can sense that something has changed in the environment is a novel idea, says Majewska.

Daphne Bavelier Featured on NPR Today

Monday, December 20, 2010

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!

Read More: Daphne Bavelier Featured on NPR Today

Stem Cell Advance a Step Forward for Treatment of Brain Diseases

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

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

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.

Read More: Stem Cell Advance a Step Forward for Treatment of Brain Diseases

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

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

PDGFR + Pericytes

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.

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

Majewska Lab Research Featured in Nature Highlights

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

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.

Read More: Majewska Lab Research Featured in Nature Highlights

How Some Brain Cells Hook Up Surprises Researchers

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

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

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.

Read More: How Some Brain Cells Hook Up Surprises Researchers

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

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

John O'Donnell accepts his fellowship award

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.

Neuroscience Graduate Student Grayson Sipe Receives Alumni Fellowship Award

Monday, August 30, 2010

Grayson Sipe accepts his 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.

Neuroscience Graduate Students Receive Training Grant

Monday, August 23, 2010

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.

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

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

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.

Acupuncture’s Molecular Effects Pinned Down

Sunday, May 30, 2010

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.

Neuroscience Alumna Receives Robert Doty Award

Saturday, May 15, 2010

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.

URMC Named Batten Disease Center of Excellence by BDSRA

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lance Johnston and Jon Mink, MD, PhD

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

Read More: URMC Named Batten Disease Center of Excellence by BDSRA

2010 Neuroscience Retreat Has Great Turnout

Friday, April 30, 2010

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.

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

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.

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

Richard Aslin Awarded Honorary Doctorate of Social Sciences at Swedish University

Friday, January 22, 2010

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.

Read More: Richard Aslin Awarded Honorary Doctorate of Social Sciences at Swedish University

NSC Graduate Student, Cory Hussar, Publishes an Article in December 2009 Edition of Neuron

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cory Hussar, a 5th year Neuroscience graduate student in Dr. Tania Pasternak's lab (NBA) has published an article in this month's edition of Neuron. The article, entitled Flexibility of sensory representations in prefrontal cortex depends on cell type, reports that neurons in prefrontal cortex (PFC) represent visual motion with precision comparable to cortical neurons at early stages of motion processing, and readily adapt this representation to behavioral context. Furthermore, results show that flexible sensory representation during active discrimination tasks is achieved in the PFC by a specialized neuronal network of both NS neurons readily adjusting their selectivity to behavioral context, and BS neurons capable of maintaining relatively stable sensory representation.

Helen Wei and Youngsun Cho Accepted into MSTP Program

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

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.

Scientists Create a 'Golden Ear' Mouse with Great Hearing as It Ages

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What do you get when you cross a mouse with poor hearing and a mouse with even worse hearing? Ironically, a new strain of mice with golden ears - mice that have outstanding hearing as they age.

The work by one of the world's foremost groups in age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, marks the first time that scientists have created the mouse equivalent of a person with golden ears - people who are able to retain great hearing even as they grow older. The research at the University of Rochester Medical Center was published online recently in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.

The new mouse is expected to offer clues about how these lucky folks are able to retain outstanding hearing even through old age. Researchers estimate that approximately 5 percent of people, mainly women, fall into this category. The new mice created in the laboratory of Robert Frisina, Ph.D., embody many of the same traits of human golden ears because of an astute cross of two types of mice long popular with researchers.

Read More: Scientists Create a 'Golden Ear' Mouse with Great Hearing as It Ages

Katie McAvoy receives the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards

Friday, October 9, 2009

Congratulations to Kathleen McAvoy, a graduate student in Neuroscience. Katie received Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards for Individual Predoctoral Fellows. The title of her grant is, The role of the von-Hippel Lindau protein in developmental cell death in sympathetic neurons.

Neuroscientist Wins Society Career Development Award

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Society for Neuroscience has given Raphael Pinaud, assistant professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, a 2009 Career Development Award in recognition of his contributions in neuroscience. The award recognizes scientists that have published substantial contributions to science and have shown indications of leadership in ideas for colleagues within the scientific community.Read More: Neuroscientist Wins Society Career Development Award

Dr. Kerry O'Banion featured in NASA Fall Newsletter

Thursday, October 1, 2009

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.

$10.5 Million in Funding Creates Center to Study OCD

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A new research center exploring the science underlying a potential new treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder has been established at the University of Rochester Medical Center, thanks to a $10.5 million award from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Rochester will serve as the hub of a five-year collaborative effort that includes six institutions around the nation and in Puerto Rico. The prestigious Silvio O. Conte Center will link more than 50 researchers who will focus on how deep brain stimulation affects people with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a truly debilitating disease for some patients, said Rochester neuroscientist Suzanne Haber, Ph.D., professor of Pharmacology and Physiology, who heads the center. While treatment helps most patients lead fulfilling lives, there are a few for whom today's therapies simply don't work. Our center is designed to explore the science and the effects of deep-brain stimulation, which has been effective for some other diseases involving the brain, such as Parkinson's disease.

Read More: $10.5 Million in Funding Creates Center to Study OCD

Emmy Awarded to ABC News Primetime Story Featuring Jonathan Mink, M.D., Ph.D.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

ABC News was recognized with an Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for a Primetime story featuring URMC pediatric neurologist Jonathan Mink, M.D., Ph.D. Dr. Mink, a professor of Neurology, Neurobiology & Anatomy, Pediatrics, and Brain & Cognitive Sciences, focuses his research on the function of the basal ganglia in normal control of movement and the pathophysiology of basal ganglia disorders characterized by abnormal involuntary movements.

First Year PhD Student in Neuroscience Receives the Merritt and Marjorie Cleveland Fellowship Award.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Congratulations to Adam Pallus, 1st year Ph.D. student in Neuroscience for receiving the Merritt and 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.

Blue Dye May Hold Promise in Treating Spinal Cord Injury

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A compound strikingly similar to the common food additive that gives M&Ms and Gatorade their blue tint may offer promise for preventing the additional – and serious – secondary damage that immediately follows a traumatic injury to the spinal cord. In an article published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers report that the compound Brilliant Blue G (BBG) stops the cascade of molecular events that cause secondary damage to the spinal cord in the hours following a spinal cord injury, an injury known to expand the injured area in the spinal cord and permanently worsen the paralysis for patients.

This research builds on landmark laboratory findings first reported five years ago by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center. In the August 2004 cover story of Nature Medicine, scientists detailed how ATP, the vital energy source that keeps our body’s cells alive, quickly pours into the area surrounding a spinal cord injury shortly after it occurs, and paradoxically kills off what are otherwise healthy and uninjured cells.

This surprising discovery marked a milestone in establishing how secondary injury occurs in spinal cord patients. It also laid out a potential way to stop secondary spinal injury, by using oxidized ATP, a compound known to block ATP’s effects. Rats with damaged spinal cords who received an injection of oxidized ATP were shown to recover much of their limb function, to the point of being able to walk again, ambulating effectively if not gracefully.

Read More: Blue Dye May Hold Promise in Treating Spinal Cord Injury

Dr. Julie Fudge co-authors an article in the August edition of Nature Reviews Neuroscience.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Julie Fudge, M.D., Associate Professor of Neurobiology & Anatomy and Psychiatry has co-authored an article in Nature Reviews Neuroscience with Walter Kaye and Martin Paulus. Fudge's lab studies the anatomy and neurochemistry of brain regions associated with symptoms in major psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia and mood disorders.

Read More: Dr. Julie Fudge co-authors an article in the August edition of Nature Reviews Neuroscience.

Protein Regulates Movement of Mitochondria in Brain Cells

Monday, June 15, 2009

Scientists have identified a protein in the brain that plays a key role in the function of mitochondria - the part of the cell that supplies energy, supports cellular activity, and potentially wards off threats from disease. The discovery, which was reported today in the Journal of Cell Biology, may shed new light on how the brain recovers from stroke.

Read More: Protein Regulates Movement of Mitochondria in Brain Cells

Nancy Ann Oberheim Bush, Ph.D., Receives the 2009 Vincent du Vigneaud Award

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Congratulations to Nancy Ann Oberheim Bush, Ph.D., for receiving the 2009 Vincent du Vigneaud Award! This award is given annually by the School of Medicine to a graduating student judged to have performed especially meritorious research that stands out for its potential for stimulating and extending research in the field.

Neuroscience Alumnus Receives Robert Doty Award

Friday, May 15, 2009

Yasser Elshatory, M.D., Ph.D., a former student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program and Medical Scientist Training Program, has received the Robert Doty Award of Excellence in recognition of outstanding dissertation research in neuroscience. His doctoral thesis, carried out under the direction of Dr. Lin Gan, was in the field of developmental neurobiology and entitled The LIM-homeodomain protein Islet-1 is a key regulator of restricted neuronal subtypes in the retina and forebrain.

His work uncovered a novel gene network involved in the establishment of restricted neuronal lineages in the developing retina and a similar network important for development of the cholinergic phenotype in the forebrain. Collectively, Dr. Elshatory's thesis research resulted in three first author publications, two in the Journal of Neuroscience and one in the Journal of Comparative Neurology. After graduating, Dr. Elshatory completed an internship in transitional medicine in San Bernardino County, California and is currently an ophthalmology resident at the Dean McGee Eye Institute in Oklahoma City, OK.

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.

Neuroscience Graduate Student Wins Travel Fellowship to International Multisensory Research Forum

Monday, May 11, 2009

Congratulations to Maria Diehl for winning a travel fellowship to attend the 10th International Multisensory Research Forum in New York City. The forum will be held June 29 - July 2 at the City College of New York. Featured keynote speakers this year are Dora Angelaki, Jon Kaas, and Nikos Logothetis.

Rochester Scientist Wins Major Award for Alzheimer's Research

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Rochester researcher whose work has opened up a whole new avenue in Alzheimer's disease research has received a major prize from the American Academy of Neurology.

Berislav Zlokovic, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Neurodegenerative and Vascular Brain Disorders at the University of Rochester Medical Center, will receive the 2009 Potamkin Prize for Research in Pick's, Alzheimer's, and Related Diseases during the AAN annual meeting later this month in Seattle.

Rigorous Visual Training Teaches the Brain to See Again After Stroke

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

By doing a set of vigorous visual exercises on a computer every day for several months, patients who had gone partially blind as a result of suffering a stroke were able to regain some vision, according to scientists who published their results in the April 1st issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

We were very surprised when we saw the results from our first patients, said Krystel Huxlin, Ph.D., the neuroscientist and associate professor who led the study of seven patients at the University of Rochester Flaum Eye Institute. This is a type of brain damage that clinicians and scientists have long believed you simply can't recover from. It's devastating, and patients are usually sent home to somehow deal with it the best they can.

Astrocytes Help Separate Man from Mouse

Monday, March 23, 2009

A type of brain cell that was long overlooked by researchers embodies one of very few ways in which the human brain differs fundamentally from that of a mouse or rat, according to researchers who published their findings as the cover story in the March 11 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center found that human astrocytes, cells that were long thought simply to support flashier brain cells known as neurons that send electrical signals, are bigger, faster, and much more complex than those in mice and rats.

"There aren’t many differences known between the rodent brain and the human brain, but we are finding striking differences in the astrocytes. Our astrocytes signal faster, and they’re bigger and more complex. This has big implications for how our brains process information," said first author Nancy Ann Oberheim, Ph.D., a medical student who recently completed her doctoral thesis on astrocytes.

Read More: Astrocytes Help Separate Man from Mouse

Researchers Find New Point of Entry for HIV in Brain Cells

Monday, January 5, 2009

Although AIDS is not usually considered a neurological disorder, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can and does attack the brain—resulting in tremors, memory impairments, even dementia. Researchers have now identified a route through which the virus wreaks havoc on brain cells. The finding, appearing online in the November 14th issue of the open-access journal PLoS One, may point to new approaches for treating a phase of the disease that is ominously on the increase.Read More: Researchers Find New Point of Entry for HIV in Brain Cells

Can’t hear at holiday parties? Blame your brain

Monday, December 29, 2008

Scientists are still trying to piece together why our hearing goes downhill with age, with the goal of trying to slow it or even reverse it. When it comes to the cocktail party problem, the dimmer switch is a piece of that story, though it's not clear just how big a factor.

I think it's a significant player, said Robert Frisina of the University of Rochester in New York, who is studying it. Frisina and colleagues published evidence in 2002 that the dimmer switch effectiveness declines with age. The drop-off showed up in middle-aged people (ages 38 to 52) and was even worse in people past age 62.

Read More: Can’t hear at holiday parties? Blame your brain

Panel: EPA must consider effects of chemical barrage

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chemicals that interfere with the male hormone system are so common — and so potentially damaging — that the government should stop studying them one by one and consider their combined effect, an expert panel said Thursday.

The Environmental Protection Agency typically studies the impact of these and other chemicals individually. But that approach may underestimate the effect of being exposed to many different chemicals with similar effects, says the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry's Deborah Cory-Slechta, chairwoman of the committee that wrote the report.

Read More: Panel: EPA must consider effects of chemical barrage

Ania Majewska, Ph.D. named a Kavli Fellow

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Congratulations to Ania Majewska, Ph.D. on being named a Kavli Fellow by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Each year the NAS conducts the Kavli Frontiers of Science Symposium with some 100 of the best and brightest of young American scientists attending to hear, discuss, and debate talks across a wide range of the natural sciences. Thus, many of the country's ablest scientists--those now rising to positions of leadership in their institutions and their professions--have gone through a seminar on the value and potential of interdisciplinary research. Attendees are selected from a pool of young researchers who have made significant contributions to science.

Scientists Rate University of Rochester a Best Place to Work

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Not only is the University of Rochester the region's largest employer - it's also one of the best places in the nation for scientists to work, according to The Scientist magazine.

It's gratifying to be recognized for the research environment that we've worked hard to create, said Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of the Medical Center. This is an institution founded on the principle of interdisciplinary collaboration. Our scientists' satisfaction plays an important role in the ultimate success of our research enterprise, and helps us truly achieve Medicine of the Highest Order.

Rochester Neuroscientist Honored By Danish Academy

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., has been elected a member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences, the premier scientific society in Denmark. The society elects only six new members worldwide every other year.

Nedergaard has been a pioneer in brain research, demonstrating that brain cells known as astrocytes play a role in a host of human diseases. For decades, much of the attention of neuroscientists had been focused on brain cells known as neurons, which send electrical signals. Astrocytes were long considered cells whose primary function was to support the neurons.

Nedergaard has turned that notion on its head, showing that astrocytes themselves play an important role in epilepsy, spinal cord disease, migraine headaches, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Read More: Rochester Neuroscientist Honored By Danish Academy

Summer students Excel in research

Friday, August 1, 2008

The GEBS summer scholars program is designed for Undergraduate students interested in the Ph.D. degree in the Biological or Biomedical Sciences and students with a potential interest in attending graduate school at the University of Rochester. Students choose from a list of mentors and fill out an application.

Neuroscience Alumnus Receives Robert Doty Award

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Xiaohai Wang, M.D., 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. He received his M.D. from China Medical University, Shenyang, Liaoning, China in 1999, and then worked as an instructor in the Department of Histology & Embryology at the same university until 2002 when he moved to the United States to begin Ph.D. studies in Neuroscience at New York Medical College.

Dr. Wang joined Dr. Maiken Nedergaard's laboratory for his thesis work. Dr. Wang's dissertation entitled Role of astrocytic Ca2+ signaling in response to sensory stimulation in vivo demonstrated that astrocytes can mediate slow sensory adaptation through Ca2+ dependent release of adenosine. During his tenure as a graduate student, Dr. Wang co-authored a very impressive nine publications with Dr. Nedergaard, including two first author papers in Nature Neuroscience and Nature Medicine. After graduation, he accepted a position as Senior Research Biologist at Merck Research Laboratories.

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.

Our Understanding of Movement Is on the Move

Monday, January 14, 2008

How our brain controls our movements is a bit more complex and varied than scientists have previously recognized, according to research recently published in Science by a team of scientists and physicians at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

The team led by neurologist Marc Schieber, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Neurology and of Neurobiology & Anatomy, showed that at least occasionally, the brain is able to bypass the usual route of nerve fibers it uses for controlling hand and finger movements, using an alternate route to send its signals. Such flexibility in controlling movement has been suspected but not actually shown before.

Research Unveils New Hope for Deadly Childhood Disease

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Investigators at the University of Rochester Medical Center have uncovered a promising drug therapy that offers a ray of hope for children with Batten disease - a rare neurodegenerative disease that strikes seemingly healthy kids, progressively robs them of their abilities to see, reason and move, and ultimately kills them in their young twenties.

The study, highlighted in the January edition of Experimental Neurology, explains how investigators improved the motor skills of feeble mice that model the disease, helping them to better their scores on successive coordination tests. No treatment currently exists for these kids – nothing to halt the disease, or even to slow it down, said one of the study's authors, David Pearce, Ph.D., a nationally renowned Batten disease expert and Biochemistry professor at the University of Rochester. His team has published more than 50 studies on the disease's basic mechanisms.

Sleep Chemical Central to Effectiveness of Deep Brain Stimulation

Monday, December 24, 2007

A brain chemical that makes us sleepy also appears to play a central role in the success of deep brain stimulation to ease symptoms in patients with Parkinson’s disease and other brain disorders. The surprising finding is outlined in a paper published online Dec. 23 in Nature Medicine.

The work shows that adenosine, a brain chemical most widely known as the cause of drowsiness, is central to the effect of deep brain stimulation, or DBS. The technique is used to treat people affected by Parkinson’s disease and who have severe tremor, and it’s also being tested in people who have severe depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Patients typically are equipped with a “brain pacemaker,” a small implanted device that delivers carefully choreographed electrical signals to a very precise point in the patient’s brain. The procedure disrupts abnormal nerve signals and alleviates symptoms, but doctors have long debated exactly how the procedure works.

“Certainly the electrical effect of the stimulation on neurons is central to the effect of deep brain stimulation,” said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., Ph.D., the neuroscientist and professor in the Department of Neurosurgery who led the research team. “But we also found a very important role for adenosine, which is surprising.”

Read More: Sleep Chemical Central to Effectiveness of Deep Brain Stimulation

Copper Damages Protein that Defends Against Alzheimer’s

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The research by neuroscientists at the URMC was presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego Nov. 3-7. The work was highlighted as part of a press conference on potential environmental influences on Alzheimer's disease.

The team found that copper damages a molecule known as LRP (low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein), a molecule that acts like an escort service in the brain, shuttling amyloid-beta out of the brain and into the body. The molecule's role in Alzheimer's was revealed more than a decade ago by another author of the work, Berislav Zlokovic, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Neurosurgery and Neurology and director of the Frank P. Smith Laboratory for Neuroscience and Neurosurgery Research. Zlokovic is widely recognized for demonstrating that blood vessels, blood flow, and the blood-brain barrier are central to the development of Alzheimer's disease.

Worms Take the Sniff Test to Reveal Sex Differences in Brain

Monday, November 5, 2007

In the experiment at the University of Rochester Medical Center, worms that are hermaphrodites (with characteristics of both females and males) went for the buttery smell, while the males - the other of the two sexes in these worms - opted for the scent of fresh vegetables. But when researchers tricked a few nerve cells in hermaphrodites into sensing that they were in a male worm, suddenly they too preferred the smell of fresh vegetables.

Geneticist Douglas Portman, Ph.D., and graduate student KyungHwa Lee ultimately hope to understand gender differences in diseases like autism, depression, and attention-deficit disorder. Many more boys than girls are diagnosed with ADD and autism, and many more girls than boys are diagnosed with depression. While proposed explanations abound, few scientists debate the notion that the brains of the sexes are in some ways fundamentally different.

Alzheimer’s Project Focuses on Role of Brain Inflammation

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center have received $1.37 million to continue their work looking at some of the earliest events that occur at the start of Alzheimer's disease - a condition that now generally goes undetected until the death of key brain cells has been underway for decades.

The team led by William Bowers, Ph.D., associate professor of Neurology and a scientist in the Center for Neural Development and Disease, is focusing on the role of inflammation in the evolution of the disease. Just as rheumatoid arthritis can ravage the body's joints because of the inflammation it causes, scientists are realizing that the same thing happens to the brain in patients with Alzheimer's disease. The brain can be under assault for decades as the body attempts to fend off some perceived threat.

Draining Away Brain's Toxic Protein to Stop Alzheimer's

Monday, August 13, 2007

Scientists are trying a plumber's approach to rid the brain of the amyloid buildup that plagues Alzheimer’s patients: Simply drain the toxic protein away.

That’s the method outlined in a paper published online August 12th by Nature Medicine. A team of scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center, led by neuroscientist Berislav Zlokovic, M.D., Ph.D., show how the body's natural way of ridding the body of the substance is flawed in people with the disease. Then the team demonstrated an experimental method in mice to fix the process, dramatically reducing the levels of the toxic protein in the brain and halting symptoms. The team is now working on developing a version of the protein that could be tested in people with the disease.

Read More: Draining Away Brain's Toxic Protein to Stop Alzheimer's

Spouses Awarded Prestigious Sloan, Pew Fellowships

Friday, August 3, 2007

This summer the University of Rochester Medical Center boasts winners of two of the most prestigious awards available to young scientists - and the winners are from the same family.

Edward Brown, Ph.D., has been named a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences, and his spouse Ania Majewska, Ph.D., has received an award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Brown, one of just 20 scientists in the nation to be recognized by the Pew Charitable Trusts this year, will receive $240,000 toward his research, while Majewska will receive $45,000 to continue her work.

Brain Inflammation may be Friend, Not Foe, for Alzheimer’s Patients

Monday, June 4, 2007

In the June 1st issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, a team of scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center shows that a key inflammatory regulator, a known villain when it comes to parsing out damage after a stroke and other brain injuries, seems to do the opposite in Alzheimer’s disease, protecting the brain and helping get rid of clumps of material known as plaques that are a hallmark of the disease.

Commonly Used Drug Offers Promise for Premature Babies

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Scientists have found evidence that the cox-2 inhibitor celecoxib, a common pain reliever used to treat arthritis, may offer a new way to reduce the risk of the most common cause of brain damage in babies born prematurely.

The work involves shoring up blood vessels in a part of the brain that in premature infants is extremely fragile and vulnerable to dangerous bleeding, which affects an estimated 12,000 children a year, leaving many permanently affected by cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and seizures.

The laboratory research was done primarily in a laboratory at New York Medical College led by neonatologist Praveen Ballabh, M.D. Ballabh's team worked with Rochester neuroscientists including Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., Steven Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., and Nanhong Lou, B.M.

Cajal Club Explorer Award

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A couple of weeks ago, Gary Paige, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy, was informed that Ania Majewska, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor who had recently joined the department, had won the Cajal Club Explorer Award. Receiving such a prestigious award is a cause for recognition and celebration. What make's this all the more special, however, is Ania's personal and professional story.

Read More: Cajal Club Explorer Award

Speedsters’ Traffic Fines Fund New Research on Spinal Cord Injury

Friday, August 25, 2006

More than a dozen Rochester scientists seeking ways to reverse or lessen the effects of paralysis and other effects of spinal cord injury will begin new projects and continue promising research, thanks to motorists in New York State who push the gas medal a little too far.

Three research projects at the University of Rochester Medical Center are among the programs funded this year through the Spinal Cord Injury Research Program run by the New York State Department of Health. The program, created in 1998, uses fines paid by speeding motorists to fund research into spinal cord injury, whose number-one cause nationwide is motor vehicle accidents. In Rochester this year the grants are going to Roman Giger, Ph.D.; Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., Ph.D.; and Mark Noble, Ph.D.

Read More: Speedsters’ Traffic Fines Fund New Research on Spinal Cord Injury

Flick of Whiskers Helps Tease Out Brain’s ‘Shadow’ Signaling System

Monday, May 15, 2006

By blowing gentle puffs of air onto a mouse’s whiskers and watching how its brain reacts, scientists are discovering that a long-overlooked signaling system in the brain is crucial to our everyday activity.

The work is the latest in a growing body of evidence that star-shaped brain cells known as astrocytes aren’t simply support cells but are stars of the brain in their own right, say researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center who did the study. The work will be reported in a paper in the June issue of Nature Neuroscience and is now available online.

“Now people have to take astrocytes seriously,” said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Department of Neurosurgery and a member of the Center for Aging and Developmental Biology, whose team did the research. In the past few years she has found that the cells, long thought to simply nourish other cells and clean up their wastes, are central to diseases like epilepsy, spinal cord injury, and maybe even Alzheimer’s disease.

Read More: Flick of Whiskers Helps Tease Out Brain’s ‘Shadow’ Signaling System

$3.5 Million Grant To Support Research on New Treatment for Severe OCD

Thursday, February 23, 2006

As part of a five-year, $3.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), researchers will look at whether a breakthrough therapy for Parkinson's disease can also treat the worst cases of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). A research team led out of the University of Rochester Medical Center will measure whether Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) can reduce the rampant anxiety that keeps some OCD patients homebound.

DBS is one of the most promising areas of OCD research because early studies show that it may help many within the approximately 20 percent of OCD patients for whom neither psychological nor drug therapy works, said Suzanne Haber, Ph.D., a professor within the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Some patients have been able to venture out to work and school for the first time with DBS, said Haber, who is lead investigator for the grant.

Read More: $3.5 Million Grant To Support Research on New Treatment for Severe OCD

Blood Flow in Brain Takes a Twist, Affecting Views of Alzheimer’s

Friday, January 6, 2006

New findings that long-overlooked brain cells play an important role in regulating blood flow in the brain call into question one of the basic assumptions underlying today's most sophisticated brain imaging techniques and could open a new frontier when it comes to understanding Alzheimer's disease.

In a paper to appear in the February issue of Nature Neuroscience and now available on-line, scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center demonstrate that star-shaped brain cells known as astrocytes play a direct role in controlling blood flow in the brain, a crucial process that allows parts of the brain to burst into activity when needed. The finding is intriguing for a disease like Alzheimer's, which has long been considered a disease of brain cells known as neurons, and certainly not astrocytes.

“For many years, astrocytes have been considered mainly as housekeeping cells that help nourish and maintain a healthy environment for neurons. But it's turning out that astrocytes may play a central role in many human diseases,” said neuroscientist Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., Ph.D., who has produced a string of publications fingering astrocytes in diseases like epilepsy and spinal cord injury.

Read More: Blood Flow in Brain Takes a Twist, Affecting Views of Alzheimer’s

Roots of Epilepsy May Lie in Oft-Ignored Brain Cells

Monday, August 15, 2005

Star-shaped brain cells that are often overlooked by doctors and scientists as mere support cells appear to play a key role in the development of epilepsy, researchers say in a study published on-line August 14 in Nature Medicine. It's one of the first times scientists have produced firm evidence implicating the cells, known as astrocytes, in a common human disease.

Scientists found that astrocytes can serve as ground zero in the brain, setting off a harmful cascade of electrical activity in the brain by sending out a brain chemical that triggers other brain cells to fire out of control.

While it's impossible to tell at this early stage what effect the finding will have on treatment, the investigators at the University of Rochester Medical Center are hopeful the results will give doctors and pharmaceutical firms a new target in efforts to treat and prevent the disease.

“This opens up a new vista in efforts to treat epilepsy. It might be possible to treat epilepsy not by depressing or slowing brain function, as many of the current medications do, but by targeting brain cells that have been completely overlooked,” says Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Department of Neurosurgery and a researcher in the Center for Aging and Developmental Biology, who led the research. “We are hopeful that someday, this will be very beneficial to patients.”

Read More: Roots of Epilepsy May Lie in Oft-Ignored Brain Cells

Scientists Finger Surprise Culprit in Spinal Cord Injury

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

ATP, the vital energy source that keeps our body's cells alive, runs amok at the site of a spinal cord injury, pouring into the area around the wound and killing the cells that normally allow us to move, scientists report in the cover story of the August issue of Nature Medicine.

The finding that ATP is a culprit in causing the devastating damage of spinal cord injury is unexpected. Doctors have known that initial trauma to the spinal cord is exacerbated by a cascade of molecular events over the first few hours that permanently worsen the paralysis for patients. But the finding that high levels of ATP kill healthy cells in nearby regions of the spinal cord that were otherwise uninjured is surprising and marks one of the first times that high levels of ATP have been identified as a cause of injury in the body.

While the work opens up a promising new avenue of study, the work is years away from possible application in patients, cautions Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., Ph.D., the researcher who led the study. In addition, the research offers promise mainly to people who have just suffered a spinal cord injury, not for patients whose injury is more than a day old. Just as clot-busting agents can help patients who have had a stroke or heart attack who get to an emergency room within a few hours, so a compound that could stem the damage from ATP might help patients who have had a spinal cord injury and are treated immediately.

Read More: Scientists Finger Surprise Culprit in Spinal Cord Injury

New Findings About Brain's 'Compass' Offer Clues About Alzheimer's

Thursday, March 28, 2002

A tiny section of the brain that is ravaged by Alzheimer's disease is more important for our ability to orient ourselves than scientists have long thought, helping to explain why people with the disease become lost so easily. The findings by neuroscientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center are reported in the March 29 issue of Science.

Neurologist Charles Duffy, M.D., Ph.D., previously discovered that a small section of brain tissue slightly above and behind the ear - known as the medial superior temporal area (MST) - acts much like a compass, instantly updating your mental image of your body's movements through space. In new research, Duffy and graduate student Michael Froehler show that the MST acts not only as a compass but also as a sort of biological global positioning system, providing a mental map to help us understand exactly where we are in the world and how we got there.

Read More: New Findings About Brain's 'Compass' Offer Clues About Alzheimer's

Road Skills Hint At "Motion Blindness" Of Alzheimer's

Thursday, January 31, 2002

Doctors have added to the evidence that patients with Alzheimer's disease lose their way not simply because their memory is failing but because they are subject to a unique form of brain damage that causes symptoms doctors call "motion blindness." Some of the new data comes from driving tests of a small number of patients, where researchers have linked the condition to the loss of one specific driving skill: the ability to stay in one's lane while driving.

While it's obvious that people with Alzheimer's disease are losing their memory, that's only part of the reason why they become lost, says neurologist Charles Duffy, M.D., Ph.D., who leads the research team at the University of Rochester Medical Center. These patients also lose their ability to perceive their own motion. That's ultimately what puts them at much greater risk than others of becoming lost.

Read More: Road Skills Hint At "Motion Blindness" Of Alzheimer's