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NASA Grant Will Explore Impact of Space Travel on the Brain

Friday, November 13, 2015

M. Kerry O'Banion Kerry O'Banion, M.D., Ph.D., has been awarded $1.8 million from NASA to study whether extended deep space travel places astronauts at risk for neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.

The grant is one of nine announced by NASA that will fund research that employ beams of high-energy, heavy ions simulating space radiation. The studies will be conducted in part at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island. By colliding matter together at very high speeds, the accelerators at Brookhaven can reproduce the radioactive particles found in space.

The studies will seek to better understand and reduce the risks to humans associated with long journeys in deep space, specifically focusing on neurological and cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Understanding the potential health impact of space travel is a priority for NASA as it develops future plans for maned voyages to Mars and other destinations.

Read More: NASA Grant Will Explore Impact of Space Travel on the Brain

Nguyen Mai Wins Poster Competition at 2015 APSA/Tri-Institutional MSTP Conference

Monday, November 9, 2015

Congratulations to Nguyen Mai for winning first place for the poster competition at the 2015 APSA/Tri-Institutional MSTP Conference at SUNY Upstate in Syracuse, NY.

Study: Brain's Immune System Could Be Harnessed to Fight Alzheimer's

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

M. Kerry O'BanionA new study appearing in the Journal of Neuroinflammation suggests that the brain’s immune system could potentially be harnessed to help clear the amyloid plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

This research confirms earlier observations that, when activated to fight inflammation, the brain's immune system plays a role in the removal of amyloid beta, said M. Kerry O'Banion, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the University of Rochester Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, the Del Monte Neuromedicine Institute, and the lead author of the study. We have also demonstrated that the immune system can be manipulated in a manner that accelerates this process, potentially pointing to a new therapeutic approach to Alzheimer's disease.

The findings are the culmination of years of investigation that were triggered when O'Banion and his colleagues made a surprising discovery while studying mouse models of Alzheimer's disease. They observed that amyloid beta plaques – which scientists believe play a major role in the disease – were being cleared in animals with chronic brain inflammation.

Read More: Study: Brain's Immune System Could Be Harnessed to Fight Alzheimer's

Congratulation Fatima Rivera-Escalera

Monday, November 2, 2015

Fatima Rivera-EscaleraFatima has successfully defended her PhD thesis.

Congratulations Dr. Rivera-Escalera!!!

Congratulations to Monique Mendes, 1st year NGP student!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Monique MendesMonique was recognized at the 2014 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) for an outstanding poster/ oral presentation and was awarded an AHA/ASA Travel Award. This award is given to recognize promising and outstanding investigators in the early stages of their careers, and provide travel assistance to participate in the upcoming 2015 Scientific Sessions. Scientific Sessions is the American Heart Association's largest gathering of scientists and healthcare professionals devoted to the science of cardiovascular disease and stroke and the care of patients suffering from these diseases. It is the leading cardiovascular meeting in the country with over 17,000 professionals attending annually, and over 22,000 total attendees. Programming for this meeting is designed to improve patient care by communicating the most timely and significant advances in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease from many different perspectives. Sessions provides five days of comprehensive, unparalleled education through more than 4,000 presentations given by some of the world's top leaders in the areas of cardiovascular disease, as well as a chance to experience more than 300 exhibitors showcasing the latest cardiovascular technology and resources.

This year's Scientific Sessions will be held November 7th - 11th in Orlando, FL

What We Hear, Even Subconsciously, Fine Tunes Our Sense of Distance

Friday, October 30, 2015

Duje TadinMost of us at one time or another have counted the seconds between a lightning flash and its thunder to estimate distance. University researcher Duje Tadin and his colleagues have discovered that humans can unconsciously notice and make use of sound delays as short as 40 milliseconds (ms) to fine tune what our eyes see when estimating distances to nearby events.

Much of the world around us is audiovisual, says Tadin, Associate Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and senior author of the study. Although humans are primarily visual creatures, our research shows that estimating relative distance is more precise when visual cues are supported with corresponding auditory signals. Our brains recognize those signals even when they are separated from visual cues by a time that is too brief to consciously notice.

For the study, published in PLOS ONE, researchers used projected three-dimensional (3D) images to test the human brain's ability to use sound delays to estimate the relative distance of objects.

For the entire story, visit the Univ. Rochester Newscenter.

Read More: What We Hear, Even Subconsciously, Fine Tunes Our Sense of Distance

Sigma Xi awards David R. Williams the William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement

Monday, October 26, 2015

David R. Williams, widely regarded as one of the world’s leading experts on human vision, has been named the recipient of Sigma Xi’s 2015 William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement. The prize is given annually since 1950 in recognition of outstanding achievement in scientific research and demonstrated ability to communicate the significance of this work to scientists in other disciplines. Past Procter Prize recipients have included Jane Goodall, Vannevar Bush, Margaret Mead, Murray Gell-Mann, and Rita Colwell.

He will be presented the Procter Prize at an evening ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 24 in Kansas City, during the scientific research society Sigma Xi’s annual meeting.

For the entire article, visit the Rochester NewsCenter.

Read More: Sigma Xi awards David R. Williams the William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement

URMC using photon laser for cancer research

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Edward BrownEdward Brown's research is a mixture of photonics, microscopes and a little nudge from his mom.

Brown, who teaches biomedical engineering at the University of Rochester Medical Center, has built a laser-and-microscope device to study how likely cancer cells will spread throughout the body. Specifically, he's looking at how likely cancer cells have spread inside breast cancer patients who already have had the tumor removed.

Learning more about the cell movement, called metastasis, is key to a larger overtreatment problem that Brown is trying to fix.

When patients first realize they have breast cancer, it's unclear whether the cancer cells have spread, so doctors recommend chemotherapy as a precaution. However, Brown and other medical researchers believe patients are being overtreated because doctors are giving chemo to patients who may not need it.

Read More: URMC using photon laser for cancer research

Clerio Vision licenses ground-breaking approach to vision correction developed by Huxlin, Knox and Ellis

Friday, October 23, 2015

LASIK revolutionized vision correction in the 1990s. Now, a new technology arising from research conducted by Wayne Knox, Professor of Optics and Physics; Krystel Huxlin, Professor of Ophthalmology; and Jonathan Ellis, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, may do the same, notes UR Ventures Technology Review.

Known as LIRIC (Laser Induced Refractive Index Change), this ground-breaking method also uses a laser to correct the optical properties of the eye, but that's where the similarities to LASIK end.

The older technology uses two lasers and includes cutting the cornea to create a flap and then pulling that flap back to expose the inner cornea. A laser is then applied to ablate and reshape the corneal tissue to achieve the desired focus. The corneal flap is repositioned and the healing process begins. Complications are rare, but as with any surgery, are a concern. Fear of complications and of having one's eye cut are big reasons why less than 2 percent of people who are eligible for LASIK undergo the procedure.

The LIRIC method uses a laser at a much lower power and does not cut or remove any tissue. Instead, it is a non-invasive procedure that alters the refractive index of the corneal tissue to correct vision. Since the procedure doesn't thin the cornea like LASIK, it may be repeated many times over the course of a patient's lifetime as the eye grows and changes.

This technology has been licensed to Clerio Vision, Inc., a local startup poised to bring this new treatment to market. Clerio was started by a team of entrepreneurs with proven track records - Mikael Totterman (VirtualScopics, iCardiac), Alex Zapesochny (Lenel, iCardiac), Scott Catlin (AMO, Abbott Medical Optics - and now with UR Ventures), and Sasha Latypova (VirtualScopics, iCardiac). The company successfully concluded an oversubscribed Series A round of fundraising with participation from three venture capital firms, and is considering a Series B round to further accelerate product and clinical development. They have proven efficacy in animal models and hydro-gels (contact lenses), and plan to conduct human studies early in 2016.

Experimental Treatment Regimen Effective Against HIV

Monday, October 19, 2015

Protease inhibitors are a class of antiviral drugs that are commonly used to treat HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Scientists at the University of Nebraska Medical Center designed a new delivery system for these drugs that, when coupled with a drug developed at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, rid immune cells of HIV and kept the virus in check for long periods. The results appear in the journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine.

While current HIV treatments involve pills that are taken daily, the new regimens' long-lasting effects suggest that HIV treatment could be administered perhaps once or twice per year.

Nebraska researcher Howard E. Gendelman designed the investigational drug delivery system–a so–called nanoformulated protease inhibitor. The nanoformulation process takes a drug and makes it into a crystal, like an ice cube does to water. Next, the crystal drug is placed into a fat and protein coat, similar to what is done in making a coated ice–cream bar. The coating protects the drug from being degraded by the liver and removed by the kidney.

When tested together with URMC–099, a new drug discovered in the laboratory of UR scientist Harris A. (Handy) Gelbard M.D., Ph.D., the nanoformulated protease inhibitor completely eliminated measurable quantities of HIV. URMC–099 boosted the concentration of the nanoformulated drug in immune cells and slowed the rate at which it was eliminated, thereby prolonging its therapeutic effect.

Read More: Experimental Treatment Regimen Effective Against HIV

Sneak Peak of The Brain with Dr. David Eagleman at The Little Theater Followed by Panel Discussion Featuring Liz Romanski

Monday, September 28, 2015

Lizabeth RomanskiThe Brain with Dr. David Eagleman
Wed, 09/30/2015 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm

Join WXXI for a special preview screening of a new series that tells the story of the inner workings of the brain.

The Brain with Dr. David Eagleman, a new six one-hour series that explores the human brain in an epic series that reveals the ultimate story of us, why we feel and think the things we do, premieres on WXXI-TV in October 14th. But before it does, you can enjoy a sneak preview of the series on the big screen at The Little Theater (240 East Avenue) on Wednesday, September 30 at 7 p.m. The event is free, but seats are first come first served. WXXI is pleased to partner with the Rochester Museum & Science Center to bring you this screening, followed by a panel discussion featuring Liz.

For further information, please visit the WXXI website.

Read More: Sneak Peak of The Brain with Dr. David Eagleman at The Little Theater Followed by Panel Discussion Featuring Liz Romanski

NSC Student Humberto Mestre M.D. Awarded Travel Grant to SFN 2015

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Photo of Humberto Mestre

Humberto Mestre, M.D.

In 2014, Humberto was selected for the Latin America Training Program by the Society for Neuroscience and the International Brain Research Organization.

This program was formerly known as the Ricardo Miledi Neuroscience Training Program. The Program allowed 15 young scientists from Latin America and the Caribbean to attend a three week course where top faculty from across the region and North America provided the young scientists with lectures, lab exercises using cutting edge techniques, and training on vital professional development topics - one speaker was Dr. Deborah Cory-Slechta.

The completion of the year-long participation culminated with a travel grant to attend the Society for Neuroscience Meeting 2015 in Chicago, IL and to present science at the International Fellows Poster Session to be held on Saturday, October 17 from 6:30 pm-8:30 pm in Hall A of McCormick Place.

Read More: NSC Student Humberto Mestre M.D. Awarded Travel Grant to SFN 2015

NB&A Faculty take honors at Convocation 2015

Thursday, September 10, 2015

  • Ania Majewska PhD - Outstanding Graduate Program Director
  • John Olschowka PhD - 1st Year Teaching Special Commendation
  • Martha Gdowski PhD - Gold Medal Teaching Award
  • Nina Schor MD, PhD - Faculty Academic Mentoring Award

Congratulations All!!

Carney lab looks beyond inner ear in quest for better hearing aids

Friday, August 28, 2015

Laurel CarneyMost hearing aids on the market today are designed to mimic what happens in our inner ear - specifically the amplifying role of the outer hair cells.

However, the lab of Laurel Carney, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, is studying what happens beyond the inner ear - in the complex network of auditory nerve fibers that transmit the inner ear's electrical signals to the brain, and in the auditory center of the midbrain, which processes those signals.

Therein lies the key to creating hearing aids that not only make human speech louder but clearer, Carney believes.

An important focus of her research uses a combination of physiological and behavioral studies, and computer modeling, to study the 30,000 auditory nerve fibers on each side of our brain that transmit electrical signals from the inner ear. Critical to this is the initial transduction of mechanical energy to electrical signals that occurs in the inner hair cells of the inner ear's organ of Corti.

This is critical for shaping the patterning of responses in the auditory nerves, and the patterning of those responses at this first level, where the signal comes into the brain, has a big effect on the way the mid brain responds to the relatively low frequencies of the human voice, Carney explained.

In people with healthy hearing, the initial transduction results in a wide contrast in how various auditory nerve fibers transmit this information. The responses of some fibers are dominated by a single tone, or harmonic, within the sound; others respond to fluctuations that are set up by the beating of multiple harmonics, Carney said. In the mid brain, neurons are capable of assimilating this contrast of fluctuating and nonfluctuating inputs across varying frequencies. They begin the process of parsing out the sounds of speech and any other vocalizations that involve low frequencies. A better understanding of how this process works in the midbrain, Carney believes, could yield new strategies for designing hearing aids.

A lot of people have tried to design hearing aids based just on what is going on in the inner ear, but there's a lot of redundancies in the information generated there. We argue that you need to step back and, from the viewpoint of the midbrain, focus on what really matters. It's the pattern of fluctuations in the auditory nerve fibers that the midbrain responds to. The sort of strategies we're suggesting are not intuitive. The idea of trying to restore the contrast in the fluctuations across different frequency channels has not been tried before. The burden is on us to prove that it works, she added.

To that end, Carney works closely with Joyce McDonough, Professor of Linguistics, in exploring how auditory nerve fiber transmissions play a role in coding speech sounds. Her lab also works closely with that of Jong-Hoon Nam, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and of Biomedical Engineering, whose inner-ear studies were described in this newsletter last week. Carney shares what her lab is learning about the interface of auditory nerve fiber signaling with the brain, and in return, we try to include in our models a lot of the nonlinear properties of the inner ear that he (Nam) has been working on. By interacting with his lab, we hope to continue to modernize our model as he discovers more, Carney said.

NGP students receive the 2015 Convocation Awards

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Garrick Salois, 1st year student, is this year's recipient of the Irving L. Spar Fellowship Award.

Humberto Mestre, 1st year student, was awarded the Merritt and Marjorie Cleveland Fellowship.

Holly Beaulac, 1st year student, received this year's Graduate Alumni Fellowship Award.

Jenn Stripay, 5th year student, was selected to receive this year's Outstanding Student Mentor Award.

Congrats to all!

Vision Expert David Williams Receives the Beckman-Argyros Award

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

photo of David Williams

David Williams, Ph.D.

$500,000 prize for his transformative breakthrough in vision research

David Williams, widely regarded as one of the world's leading experts on human vision, has been named the 2015 recipient of the Beckman-Argyros Award in Vision Research. Williams pioneered the use of adaptive optics technologies for vision applications. He serves as the William G. Allyn Professor of Medical Optics, director of the Center for Visual Science and dean for research in Arts, Science, and Engineering at the University of Rochester.

The award, bestowed by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, rewards an individual who has made transformative breakthroughs in vision research. Williams will receive a total of $500,000, along with a solid gold commemorative medallion.

It's an incredible honor for me to receive this award from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, said Williams. He added that one aspect that made this award particularly special is that it allows our group to take risks.

FDA Approves Tool for Diagnosing Dementia in a Doctor's Office

Monday, August 10, 2015

Charles Duffy, MD, PhD

Dr. Charles Duffy

A small company started by a neuroscientist at the University of Rochester has moved closer to providing doctors with what he says is a simple, computer-based tool to help detect early signs of Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.

Cerebral Assessment Systems has received marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Cognivue, a cognitive-assessment tool that functions somewhat like a video game. A patient can perform the inexpensive and simple test while a time-strapped primary-care physician tends to other patients. The 10-minute, non–invasive examination can detect subtle lapses in the brain’s perceptual ability that may signal the early stages of mental decline caused by dementia.

The federal government's approval to market the device comes as Alzheimer's researchers everywhere step up the pursuit for easier and more inexpensive ways to identify dementia in its earliest stages.

Look, there is a late-life tsunami of late-life cognitive decline coming at us, and health-care providers are standing on the beach, said Charles J. Duffy, a neurology professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center who founded the company. What we are all about is making cognitive care part of primary care.

Read the article from the Washington Post.

Read More: FDA Approves Tool for Diagnosing Dementia in a Doctor's Office

Could Your Sleep Position Help Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Researchers at SUNY Stony Brook and The University of Rochester think so.

Sleeping in the lateral, or side position, as compared to sleeping on one’s back or stomach, may more effectively remove brain waste and prove to be an important practice to help reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases, according to researchers at Stony Brook University.

In the paper, “The Effect of Body Posture on Brain Glymphatic Transport,” Dr. Benveniste and colleagues used a dynamic contrast MRI method along with kinetic modeling to quantify the CSF-ISF exchange rates in anesthetized rodents’ brains in three positions – lateral (side), prone (down), and supine (up).

Dr. Benveniste and first-author Dr. Hedok Lee, Assistant Professor in the Departments of Anesthesiology and Radiology at Stony Brook developed the safe posture positions for the experiments. Their colleagues at the University of Rochester, including Lulu Xie, Rashid Deane and Maiken Nedergaard, PhD, used fluorescence microscopy and radioactive tracers to validate the MRI data and to assess the influence of body posture on the clearance of amyloid from the brains.

Read More: Could Your Sleep Position Help Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk?

Work of Liz Romanski Recognized by the University Research Community

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lizabeth Romanski

Researchers Pinpoint Brain's Audiovisual Processing Center

A new study is helping scientists more precisely understand how the brain stitches together sensory information such as sound and images, insight that could shed new light on conditions such as Autism. The research, which appears in the Journal of Neuroscience, identifies an area of the brain in the frontal lobe responsible for working memory and sensory integration.

Work in our laboratory is aimed at understanding how auditory and visual information are integrated since we know this process is crucial for recognizing objects by sight and sound, communicating effectively, and navigating through our complex world, said Lizabeth Romanski, Ph.D., an associate professor in the University of Rochester Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy and co-author of the study.

Our recent study demonstrates that the prefrontal cortex plays an essential role in audiovisual working memory, and when this area is switched off our ability to remember both the auditory and visual cues is impaired, said Bethany Plakke, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Romanski lab and co-author of this study.

Read More: Work of Liz Romanski Recognized by the University Research Community

Babies' expectations may help brain development

Monday, July 20, 2015

Infants can use their expectations about the world to rapidly shape their developing brains, researchers have found.

A series of experiments with infants 5 to 7 months old has shown that portions of babies' brains responsible for visual processing respond not just to the presence of visual stimuli, but also to the mere expectation of visual stimuli, according to researchers from the University of Rochester and the University of South Carolina.

That type of complex neural processing was once thought to happen only in adults—not infants—whose brains are still developing important neural connections.

We show that in situations of learning and situations of expectations, babies are in fact able to really quickly use their experience to shift the ways different areas of their brain respond to the environment, said Lauren Emberson, who conducted the study at the University of Rochester's Baby Lab while a research associate with Richard Aslin in the department of brain and cognitive sciences.

Read More: Babies' expectations may help brain development

Researcher Wins Auditory Neuroscience Award

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Laurel CarneyLaurel Carney, a professor of Biomedical Engineering, has been recognized for her work by the premier scientific organization in the field of acoustics. The Acoustical Society of America has awarded Carney the William and Christine Hartmann Prize in Auditory Neuroscience.

It's truly a great honor to receive an award created by Bill and Christine Hartmann, two of my role models, said Carney. I welcome the challenge to emulate their life of discovery, presentation, publication, service, and education throughout the world.

William and Christine Hartmann established the award with a donation to recognize and honor research that links auditory physiology with auditory perception or behavior in humans or other animals. William Hartmann is a physicist, psychoacoustician, and former president of the Acoustical Society of America. His contributions to the field involved pitch perception, signal detection, modulation detection, and the localization of sound.

In her research lab, Carney is working to better understand how the brain translates sounds into patterns of electrical impulses. By studying physiology, human hearing, and computer models, Carney hopes to learn how the brain distinguishes sounds in noisy environments and why even a small degree of hearing loss can lead to major problems. Her ultimate goal is to develop effective strategies to help people who have experienced hearing loss.

Carney earned her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University and professor of biomedical engineering at Syracuse University before joining the faculty at the University of Rochester in 2007, where she serves as professor in three departments—biomedical engineering, neurobiology and anatomy, and electrical and computer engineering.

Read More: Researcher Wins Auditory Neuroscience Award

Flaum Eye Institute Scientist Gets Funding to Study Vision Loss in Batten Disease

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ruchira Singh, PhD

Ruchira Singh, Ph.D.

University of Rochester Medical Center scientist Ruchira Singh, Ph.D., received a grant from the Knights Templar Eye Foundation to investigate how neurodegenerative diseases, such as juvenile Batten disease, cause blindness.

Singh, assistant professor of Ophthalmology and Biomedical Genetics, will use the $60,000 grant to create a human model of Batten disease (CNL3) using patient’s own cells. The project may lead to better understand the disease mechanisms, aiding in the development of drug therapies to preserve vision in affected patients.

For the complete article, visit the URMC newsroom.

Read More: Flaum Eye Institute Scientist Gets Funding to Study Vision Loss in Batten Disease

Mink Receives First Ever Tourette’s Association of America Award

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Jon Mink, MD, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Mink

Jonathan Mink, M.D., Ph.D., chief of Child Neurology at Golisano Children’s Hospital, is the first recipient of the Tourette Association of America’s Oliver Sacks Award for Excellence. The award, named for the famous British neurologist, was to be presented at the First World Congress on Tourette Syndrome and Tic Disorders, but due to a scheduling conflict, representatives from TAA instead traveled to Rochester to present him with the award in a surprise ceremony.

The award is in recognition of his many years of leadership, mentorship, research, and care on behalf of all people touched by Tourette syndrome and tic disorders around the world.

Duje Tadin explains how understanding GPS can help you hit a curveball

Monday, June 22, 2015

Curveball

Our brains track moving objects by applying one of the algorithms your phone's GPS uses, according to researchers at the University of Rochester. This same algorithm also explains why we are fooled by several motion-related optical illusions, including the sudden break of baseball's well known curveball illusion.

Like GPS, our visual ability, although quite impressive, has many limitations, said the study's coauthor, Duje Tadin, associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester.

The new open-access study published in PNAS shows that our brains apply an algorithm, known as a Kalman filter, when tracking an object's position. This algorithm helps the brain process less than perfect visual signals, such as when objects move to the periphery of our visual field where acuity is low.

Read More: Duje Tadin explains how understanding GPS can help you hit a curveball

Upcoming NGP PhD Defenses

Monday, June 22, 2015

Two NGP students are presenting their defense seminars next week.

Wei Sun defends on Monday June 29th and Adam Pallus defends on July 1st

To read their abstracts, visit the Defense Seminars site.

Read More: Upcoming NGP PhD Defenses

Congratulations to Brianna Sleezer on becoming the first intern matched from URBEST!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Brianna Sleezer

Brianna Sleezer, NSC PhD student

Brianna Sleezer, a neuroscience PhD graduate student in the Hayden Lab, is URBEST's (Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training) first intern that has been matched with a host: The Children's Environmental Health Network. Brie made things happen by connecting with Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, the Executive Director for CEHN, at a URBEST Career Story. She'll be starting her three-month internship at the beginning of September.

URBEST is a five-year, NIH-funded program to help health science and biomedical PhD graduate students and postdoctoral appointees to explore and better prepare themselves for diverse career paths. The program combines educational activities to highlight research-related careers and to instruct in leadership and professionalism. The URBEST program also provides opportunities to a subgroup of trainees for short-term (hours per week) or long-term (full time for up to three month) internships as a capstone experience. Internship candidates are selected based on their research productivity, engagement in URBEST activities and PI approval.

Kerry O'Banion presents at the CTSI Workshop - Patent Infringement: COX Fighting

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Kerry O'Banion, interim chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, and University President Emeritus Thomas Jackson will present Patent Infringement: COX Fighting, from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 17, in Helen Wood Hall Auditorium. The event is part of the CTSI workshop series, Good Advice: Case Studies in Clinical Research, Regulation, and the Law.

Read More: Kerry O'Banion presents at the CTSI Workshop - Patent Infringement: COX Fighting

Foxe Appointed to Head Neuromedicine Research at URMC

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

John FoxeJohn J. Foxe, Ph.D., a nationally-regarded scientist in the field of neurobiology, has been named the research director of the DelMonte Neuromedicine Institute (DNI) and the Kilian J. and Caroline F. Schmitt Chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

The University of Rochester has long been home to some of the nation’s most innovative and groundbreaking research in the field of neuroscience and neuromedicine, said Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester. John’s appointment signals our determination to make this field a centerpiece of our progress as a University and Medical Center.

I am honored to be taking the helm of the DNI at this incredibly exciting time in modern neuroscience research, said Foxe. The University of Rochester is already world-renowned for its superb work in this field and we now have the opportunity to build an even stronger presence. Tens of millions of Americans suffer from a major mental illness each year, be it depression or anxiety, a major psychotic disorder, or Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, or addiction. And the list goes on. The National Institutes of Health estimates that only about half of these people ever receive treatment. We can and we must do better. It is only through research that we can develop new effective treatments and I am committed to placing the DNI and the University of Rochester at the very forefront of these efforts.

Read More: Foxe Appointed to Head Neuromedicine Research at URMC

$10 Million Grant Funds Center to Study OCD at UR School of Medicine and Dentistry

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Suzanne HaberSuzanne Haber leads a research team to investigate OCD. She says the disease is characterized by intrusive, ruminating thoughts (obsessions), and impulses to carry out repetitive behaviors (compulsions), despite the awareness by most patients that these behaviors don't make sense.

The goal of a new $10 million grant awarded to the scientists is to improve our understanding of the brain networks that play a central role in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Together with leading mental health researchers at four other institutions in the U.S., they will pinpoint specific abnormalities within the brain circuits that are associated with the disease and use this information to guide new treatment options for the three million-plus Americans who live with the disorder.

The five-year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) establishes a new Silvio O. Conte Center for Basic and Translational Mental Health Research at the University of Rochester. Conte Centers are designed to bring scientists with diverse but complimentary backgrounds together to improve the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders.

Read More: $10 Million Grant Funds Center to Study OCD at UR School of Medicine and Dentistry

Ben Crane Awarded Nicholas Torok Vestibular Award by the American Neurotology Society

Monday, May 11, 2015

Otolaryngology associate professor, Benjamin Crane, MD, PhD, was awarded the Nicholas Torok Vestibular Award by the American Neurotology Society at the 50th Annual meeting in Boston on April 25th. The title of his presentation was An automated vestibular rehabilitation method for unilateral vestibular hypofunction.

The $1500 award is offered by the Society for the best lecture on an innovative observation, experience or technique in the field of Vestibular Basic Science, i.e., physiology, pathology or subjects serving clinical progress.

Congratulations Ben!

Understanding the Enemy Within that Causes Brain Damage after Cardiac Arrest

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A new $1.7 million grant will bring together a team of researchers to study – an ultimately thwart – the chain reaction that occurs in the body after cardiac arrest that can ultimately lead to brain damage and death.

“While the biological sequence of events is triggered by cardiac arrest, the death and disability associated with this event is the result of a broader systemic injury caused the initial loss of blood flow and subsequent tissue inflammation once blood circulation is restored,” said University of Rochester Medical Center neurologist Marc Halterman, M.D., Ph.D., the principal investigator of the study. In fact, it is the cumulative effect of this systemic injury on the brain, and not the heart – that ultimately leads to mortality in the disorder.

Read More: Understanding the Enemy Within that Causes Brain Damage after Cardiac Arrest

Rianne Stowell Receives Honorable Mention for NSF Research Fellowship

Friday, May 1, 2015

Rianne Stowell

Rianne Stowell, Ph.D. candidate

Four University of Rochester graduate students and seven alumni have been named recipients of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships. Additionally, five current students and 11 recent alumni were given honorable mentions by the NSF.

The fellowship, which is part of a federally sponsored program, provides up to three years of graduate study support for students pursing doctoral or research-based master’s degrees. Since the program’s inception in 1952, NSF has provided fellowships to individuals selected early in their graduate careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering. Of the more than 16,500 applicants this year, only 2,000 were awarded fellowships. The fellowship includes a three-year annual stipend of $34,000, a $12,000 educational allowance to the institution, and international research and professional development opportunities for recipients.

Congratulations Rianne on the honorable mention!!

For the complete list of recipients, visit the story at the UR Newsroom.

Read More: Rianne Stowell Receives Honorable Mention for NSF Research Fellowship

Rochester team receives National Eye Institute grant for restoring vision through retinal regeneration

Friday, May 1, 2015

David Williams

David Williams, the William G. Allyn Professor of Medical Optics, Dean for research and Director of the Center for Visual Science

A team of researchers at the University of Rochester is designing an optical system to image responses to light of large numbers of individual cells in the retina, with the objective of accelerating the development of the next generation of cures for blindness. The Rochester team and their partners will receive $3.8 million from the National Eye Institute over the next five years.

The new instrumentation we are developing builds on technology we had developed previously to improve vision through laser refractive surgery and contact lenses, as well as to diagnose retinal disease, said Rochester's principal investigator David Williams. This is the first time we have designed instrumentation specifically to develop and test therapies to restore vision in the blind.

The National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health, announced the awards as part of its Audacious Goals Initiative to tackle the most devastating and difficult to treat eye diseases. The central goal is to restore vision by regenerating neurons and neural connections in the eye and visual system. The initiative places special emphasis on cells of the retina, including the light-sensitive rod and cone photoreceptors, and the retinal ganglion cells, which connect photoreceptors to the brain via the optic nerve.

Read More: Rochester team receives National Eye Institute grant for restoring vision through retinal regeneration

URMC Start-up Takes Aim at Memory and Cognitive Problems

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Drug Developed at School of Medicine and Dentistry Targets Damaging Inflammation in the Brain

NGP faculty members Handy Gelbard M.D., Ph.D. and Stephen Dewhurst Ph.D. have founded Camber NeuroTherapeutics Inc. based on work done in their laboratories. They plan to attack the cognitive component of neurodegenerative diseases using a completely new approach: stopping the inflammation in the brain, so-called neuroinflammation, that impairs the function of nerve cells and the vast networks they create. These neural networks allow us to store and recall memories, plan and prioritize, focus on particular tasks, and process sensory information.

For more information, visit the URMC newsroom.

Read More: URMC Start-up Takes Aim at Memory and Cognitive Problems

NGP Graduate Student, Grayson Sipe, Wins Award for Excellence in Teaching

Monday, April 27, 2015

Grayson Sipe Receiving Edward Peck Curtis Award

Grayson Sipe, Ph.D. candidate and Margaret H. Kearney, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor and Vice Provost & University Dean of Graduate Studies.

Grayson Sipe, a Neuroscience Graduate Program student in Dr. Ania Majewska's lab, studying the roles of microglia during synaptic plasticity, has been named a winner of the 2015 Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence for Graduate Student Teaching.

Only a handful of these are awarded each year, and all this year's nominees were extremely well-qualified.

Congratulations Grayson!!!

Celebrating Brain Awareness Week!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Brain Awareness Week 2015

NGP student (with the support of PONs and SfN Rochester Chapter) organized the annual Brain Awareness Week and provided activities for grades K-3 at area schools.

Over the span of 2 weeks, from March 16-27, NGP students visited 19 classrooms at three different schools (Colebrook School in Irondequoit, Indian Landing in Penfield and West Ridge in Greece), grades K-4 working with over 350 kids!

They brought activities to the kids that focused on signal transduction, memory and perception. There was a team of 35 volunteers, including BCS and neuroscience undergrad and grad students that traveled to the schools. 6 NGP students were among the volunteers (Julianne Feola, Christy Cloninger, Jenn Stripay, Becky Lowery, Ryan Dawes and Susanne Pallo) participating in the planning and organization of the activities, school visits and training sessions.

Visit the Brain Awareness Week Facebook page for more information.

Read More: Celebrating Brain Awareness Week!

Robert Dirksen to Head Pharmacology and Physiology

Friday, April 3, 2015

NGP Faculty member Robert Dirksen PhD will serve as chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry effective July 1, 2015, pending approval by the University Board of Trustees. Dirksen, who has conducted research and taught medical and graduate students at the University since 1998, is known for his superb track record of federal funding, his collaborative nature and his ability to inspire and engage trainees and colleagues alike.

Read More: Robert Dirksen to Head Pharmacology and Physiology

Former IGPN student Laurie Robak, M.D., Ph.D. Receives Fellowship Award

Monday, March 30, 2015

Laurie Robak, MD, PhD

Laurie Robak, MD, PhD

Laurie Robak, MD, PhD, who graduated from the IGPN program in 2009, is a clinical fellow in the Laboratory for Integrative Functional Genomics, and is also currently completing her dual residency training in pediatrics and medical genetics. July 1st of this year, Laurie will be a postdoctoral research associate/clinical instructor in the laboratory of Dr. Joshua Shulman at Baylor Medical College, researching the genetics of Parkinson’s disease. Laurie recently received the Pfizer/ACMG Foundation Translational Genomic Fellowship Award.

Congrats Laurie!

Congratulations to Nguyen Mai

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Nguyen MaiCongrats to Nguyen Mai, MD/PhD student, in Dr. Marc Halterman's lab for receiving an individual fellowship F30 from NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for her work on Role of lung-brain coupling on neutrophil priming and reperfusion injury following global cerebral ischemia.

VasoMark advances to the next phase!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The VasoMark Team

The VasoMark Team

A group of students from Neuroscience Graduate Program and Neurosurgery Residency Program have teamed up to compete in the National Institutes of Health Neuro Startup Challenge. This new effort offers pre- and post-doctoral students from biomedical, legal, and business backgrounds the opportunity to compete for licenses to patented technologies from the NIH portfolio.

The teams model a business around the intellectual property, and seek startup funding from partnering angel investor and venture capitalist firms in order to bring the proposed technology to the biomedical marketplace. The NGP and Neurosurgery team, named VasoMark, selected two patents for the development of a minimally invasive diagnostic for the detection of primary and recurrent malignant brain tumors. VasoMark successfully completed Phase I of the competition, where they developed a two-minute elevator pitch and executive summary describing their intended entrepreneurial use of the selected technology. They are currently developing a business plan and live investor pitch describing their business model, intended market, and future areas of expansion for their selected patents.

MSTP Announces 40th Anniversary Celebration!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Edward Rubin

Edward M. Eddy Rubin

The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) is excited to announce a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the MSTP NIH training grant on Friday, October 9, 2015.

The keynote speaker will be an MSTP alumni from the Class of 1980: Edward Rubin, MD, PhD, Director, DOE Joint Genome Institute.

Edward M. Eddy Rubin is an internationally-known geneticist and medical researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, where he became head of the Genomic Sciences Division in 1998. In 2002 he assumed the directorship of the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) to lead the JGI's involvement in the Human Genome Project (HGP).

For more information and schedule of events for the day, please visit the MSTP 40th Anniversary page.

Congratulations to Fatima Rivera-Escalera

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Fatima Rivera-Escalera

Fatima Rivera-Escalera

Congrats to Fatima Rivera-Escalera, a fifth-year student in the Olschowka Lab who was awarded a Keystone Symposia Scholarship to attend the Keystone Symposium on Neuroinflammation in Diseases of the Central Nervous System in Taos, NM from January 25-30th, 2015.

NIH Neuro Start Up Challenge

Monday, January 12, 2015

Several neuroscience graduate students and clinicians from the University of Rochester are involved in the NIH Neuro Start Up Challenge and have developed their elevator pitch and executive summary as part of the public voting phase. We encourage the neuroscience community to visit their Showcase page and provide votes and constructive feedback on the discussion board this week. Public voting will run Monday, January 12th through Friday, January 16th.

Team: University of Rochester- 8&9.A (Inventions 8 and 9)

Company Name: VasoMark

About the Challenge: The Neuro Start Up Challenge, launched by the NIH in partnership with the CAI and HPN, is designed to bring brain-related, patented technologies from the NIH to market. Teams of medical, scientific and business experts compete in several phases to create a company and execute a business plan with the ultimate goal of launching their start-up.

Thank you for your support