Principal Investigator

Ania K. Majewska, Ph.D. University of Rochester work Box 603 601 Elmwood Ave Rochester NY 14642 office: MC 5-8153 p (585) 275-4173 f (585) 756-5334

Honors & News

  • March 7, 2016

    The Brain’s Gardeners: Immune Cells ‘Prune’ Connections Between Neurons

    MicrogliaMicroglia (green) with purple representing the P2Y12 receptor which the study shows is a critical regulator in the process of pruning connections between nerve cells.

    A new study out today in the journal Nature Communications shows that cells normally associated with protecting the brain from infection and injury also play an important role in rewiring the connections between nerve cells. While this discovery sheds new light on the mechanics of neuroplasticity, it could also help explain diseases like autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, and dementia, which may arise when this process breaks down and connections between brain cells are not formed or removed correctly.

    We have long considered the reorganization of the brain's network of connections as solely the domain of neurons, said Ania Majewska, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and senior author of the study. These findings show that a precisely choreographed interaction between multiple cells types is necessary to carry out the formation and destruction of connections that allow proper signaling in the brain.

    The study is another example of a dramatic shift in scientists' understanding of the role that the immune system, specifically cells called microglia, plays in maintaining brain function. Microglia have been long understood to be the sentinels of the central nervous system, patrolling the brain and spinal cord and springing into action to stamp out infections or gobble up dead cell tissue. However, scientists are now beginning to appreciate that, in addition to serving as the brain's first line of defense, these cells also have a nurturing side, particularly as it relates to the connections between neurons.

  • February 17, 2016

    Congratulations Dr. Sipe!

    Make sure you congratulate Grayson Sipe on defending his thesis.
    Way to go Grayson!

  • April 27, 2015

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

    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!!!

  • April 3, 2015

    UR Toxicology Graduate Students Make Strong Showing at 2015 SOT Meeting

    Dr. Alison Elder and Elissa Wong

    UR Toxicology graduate students made a strong showing at the Society of Toxicology (SOT) annual meeting in San Diego, CA. last week. 3rd year graduate student, Elissa Wong (Majewska Lab) and 5th year graduate student, Sage Begolly (O'Banion/Olschowka Labs) both won travel awards to attend and present their posters.

    Elissa Wong and Dr. Alison Elder also attended the event, hosting the UR recruitment table at the Society of Toxicology (SOT) Committee on Diversity Initiatives (CDI) session. Congrats to all!

    View all of the photos from the SOT meeting.

  • March 5, 2014

    Grayson Sipe Awarded Individual Pre-doctoral Fellowship from NINDS

    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!

  • May 17, 2013

    W. Spencer Klubben Wins Walt and Bobbi Makous Prize

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

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

  • January 14, 2011

    Microglia: A Standing Ovation, Please!

    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.

  • November 10, 2010

    Majewska Lab Research Featured in Nature Highlights

    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.

  • November 2, 2010

    How Some Brain Cells Hook Up Surprises Researchers

    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.

  • June 17, 2010

    "Photons and Neurons": 27th CVS Symposium

    Earlier this month, the Center for Visual Science (CVS) held its 27th symposium. The theme of this year's symposium was Photons and Neurons and it brought together scientists who develop and use optical imaging methods from all over the world.

    Optical imaging promises to revolutionize neuroscience by offering minimally-invasive, direct recording of neural activity at single cell resolution in the intact working brain. Optical imaging of neural activity, however, has yet to deliver the ultimate prize of recording the activity of many individual neurons in real time throughout the depth of a brain structure such as the cerebral cortex. Achieving such a goal will require the coordinated effort of experts from disparate backgrounds, including neuroscientists, optical engineers, biochemists and molecular biologists.

    The symposium brought together this diverse group of scientists and provided a platform for discussion of the latest developments in optical imaging of neuronal function. Discussions were long and lively and allowed the exchange of ideas, identification of pressing neurobiological questions, discussion of current limitations, and developing of ideas for possible solutions. The symposium was supported by the National Eye Institute (R13EY020691) and the Center for Visual Science, and was co-organized by David Williams, Ania Majewska and Tony Movshon (NYU).

  • November 1, 2008

    Ania Majewska, Ph.D. named a Kavli Fellow

    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.

  • August 3, 2007

    Spouses Awarded Prestigious Sloan, Pew Fellowships

    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.

  • October 11, 2006

    Cajal Club Explorer Award

    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.

Recent Publications