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The Night Gardeners -- Immune Cells Rewire, Repair Brain While We Sleep

Monday, October 21, 2019

Science tells us that a lot of good things happen in our brains while we sleep – learning and memories are consolidated and waste is removed, among other things. New research shows for the first time that important immune cells called microglia – which play an important role in reorganizing the connections between nerve cells, fighting infections, and repairing damage – are also primarily active while we sleep.  

The findings, which were conducted in mice and appear in the journal Nature Neuroscience, have implications for brain plasticity, diseases like autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, and dementia, which arise when the brain’s networks are not maintained properly, and the ability of the brain to fight off infection and repair the damage following a stroke or other traumatic injury. 

“It has largely been assumed that the dynamic movement of microglial processes is not sensitive to the behavioral state of the animal,” said Ania Majewska, Ph.D., a professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center’s (URMC) Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience and lead author of the study. “This research shows that the signals in our brain that modulate the sleep and awake state also act as a switch that turns the immune system off and on.”

Read More: The Night Gardeners -- Immune Cells Rewire, Repair Brain While We Sleep

Postdoctoral Researcher Opening

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

We are seeking an enthusiastic postdoctoral researcher to join our group to study the interactions between glial cells and neurons in physiology and pathology in mouse models.

We have two main projects for which we are recruiting:

1. the effects of developmental alcohol exposure on the interaction between neurons and glia in the cerebellum 
2. the contributions of microglial dysfunction in the cerebral cortex to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders.

Approaches will include in vivo two-photon microscopy, electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry, image analysis, mouse handling and surgeries. The successful applicant would join a group of dedicated researchers investigating neuron-glia interactions in development, adulthood, and disease.

Highly motivated applicants should have a PhD or be about to defend their PhD thesis. Preference will be given to candidates with a strong interest in alcohol research, background in neuroimmunology, and/or imaging experience. Applicants with strong background in related disciplines of neuroscience are welcome to apply.

This is a two-year NIH-funded position with the possibility of renewal based on performance and funding availability. The University of Rochester offers a stimulating research environment and excellent opportunities for interactions and training in developmental neurotoxicology, in vivo imaging, glial biology and neuroscience.

Interested applicants should send CV and names/contact information of three references to Dr. Majewska at ania_majewska@urmc.rochester.edu. Please include a cover letter detailing your current research activities, expertise and the reasons for your interest in this position.

In The News: Interviews with Scientists: Rianne Stowell

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Rianne StowellRianne Stowell, fifth year graduate student in the Majewska Lab, is interviewed by Hello Bio about her research, the most important lesson she's learned as Ph.D. student, her proudest career moment and more.

Read More: In The News: Interviews with Scientists: Rianne Stowell

Brendan Whitelaw receives 2019 Edward Peck Curtis Awards for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Brendan Whitelaw Curtis AwardNeuroscience Graduate Program and Medical Scientist Training Program student Brendan Whitelaw has been selected as one of the recipients of the 2019 Edward Peck Curtis Awards for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student. The awards were established to recognize graduate students who advance the teaching mission of the University by providing highly skilled and innovative undergraduate education. Students were nominated by their department chair and a faculty member. Congratulations, Brendan!

Read More: Brendan Whitelaw receives 2019 Edward Peck Curtis Awards for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student