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In The News: URMC utilizes motion capture technology to study brain, how it ages
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
The following is an excerpt from an article by Norma Holland that originally appeared on WHAM 13:
Rochester, N.Y. – From Hollywood to Healthcare: Technology used to make movies is being used at the University of Rochester Medical Center to help scientists understand the brain and how it ages.
What researchers learn could help predict a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
13WHAM watched researchers in the Mobile Brain Body Imaging – or MoBi – Lab attach wires to a cap covered in electrodes. The cap picks up the brain wave activity of a volunteer, while infrared cameras surrounding him pick up how his body moves on a treadmill.
This lab is one of 12 around the world combining motion capture technology with brain scans used in real time.
“What we’re saying is: Let’s get people up, let’s get them in a walking situation where they’re solving a task, where we can kind of stress them a bit, and then we can ask, ‘How’s the brain working under duress?’ explained Dr. John Foxe, director of the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience. “And that gives us a window into function, maybe like a neural stress test, akin to the cardiac stress test.”
Armed with that information, doctors hope to one day be able to predict a person’s dementia risk a decade before symptoms show up. It can also help give us clues about a person’s risk of falling as they get older.Read More: In The News: URMC utilizes motion capture technology to study brain, how it ages
Study: Neurons in the Brain Work as a Team to Guide Movement of Arms, Hands
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
The apparent simplicity of picking up a cup of coffee or turning a doorknob belies the complex sequence of calculations and processes that the brain must undergo to identify the location of an item in space, move the arm and hand toward it, and shape the fingers to hold or manipulate the object. New research, published today in the journal Cell Reports, reveals how the nerve cells responsible for motor control modify their activity as we reach and grasp for objects. These findings upend the established understanding of how the brain undertakes this complex task and could have implications for the development of neuro-prosthetics.
“This study shows that activity patterns in populations of neurons shift progressively during the course of a single movement,” said Marc Schieber, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Department of Neurology and the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience and a co-author of the study. “Interpreting these shifts in activity that allow groups of neurons to work together to perform distinctive and precise movements is the first step in understanding how to harness this information for potential new therapies.”Read More: Study: Neurons in the Brain Work as a Team to Guide Movement of Arms, Hands
Ed Brown works with Marvin Doyley on Tissue Stiffness is a Mosh Pit Where Cancer Cells Thrive
Thursday, December 6, 2018
Imagine being at a packed concert hall with a mosh pit full of dancers creating a wall against outsiders. When targeted drugs try to make their way toward a pancreas tumor, they encounter a similar obstacle in stiff tissue that surrounds and protects the cancer.
A new University of Rochester study demonstrates how imaging technology can be used to accurately measure tissue stiffness — thereby predicting the likelihood that drugs will be able get through to the tumor and guide drug penetration.
“Being able to ‘see’ stiff tissue in the tumor microenvironment is a detection strategy that could help oncologists plan treatments for their patients and monitor progress,” said senior author Marvin Doyley, Ph.D.
A medical physicist and associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, Doyley is collaborating with David Linehan, M.D., director of clinical operations at UR Medicine’s Wilmot Cancer Institute, and a surgeon/scientist who also has a special interest in pancreatic cancer. For years Linehan has been investigating the critical role the microenvironment plays in promoting pancreas tumors, and he has designed clinical trials for drugs that stimulate the immune system to attack pancreas tumors.
Their collaboration recognizes that chemotherapy followed by surgery is currently the best treatment, and therefore reducing tissue stiffness is critical for that goal.
Doyley and Linehan are seeking funding to continue the investigation in humans. They would like to confirm that ultrasound technology can be used effectively to guide drug delivery; their team is also working with Wilmot scientist Edward Brown, Ph.D., an associate professor of Biomedical Engineering, who studies the collagen-rich fibers near tumors that contribute to tissue stiffness and cancer metastasis.Read More: Ed Brown works with Marvin Doyley on Tissue Stiffness is a Mosh Pit Where Cancer Cells Thrive
How well can you walk, think at same time? URMC uses ability to predict Alzheimer's risk
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Neuroscientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center want to find out whether older adults who struggle to do both at once might be at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers recently started using motion capture technology — what’s used to get the realistic movements in sports video games — and recording brain activity to see at what point communication from the brain to the muscles breaks down. They want to know what that means for someone still trying to function in the everyday world.
The technology can be applied to autism, traumatic brain injury, concussion, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or Parkinson’s disease. Right now, the focus is Alzheimer’s, which is the sixth leading cause of death nationwide. According to a 2017 report from the state Department of Health, nearly 400,000 New Yorkers had Alzheimer's disease. The figure was expected to be 460,000 by 2025. There is no cure for the disease, but the goal of researchers is to predict who might be at risk so that treatments start earlier and slow the progression of Alzheimer's.
Researchers in the Ernest J. Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience are enrolling three groups of older adults — those who are healthy, those with cognitive impairment and those with Alzheimer’s — to determine whether they can predict someone’s risk of developing the disease. At some point, the technology could be used to track the effectiveness of treatment.
Most brain activity is measured when a person is still — either lying in an MRI tube or sitting in chair.
“That’s not what human beings do most of the time,” said John Foxe, director of the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience. “We like to think that people will get up and move around, and of course that’s when people run into problems."
He gave the examples of someone with Alzheimer's who gets lost, a child with autism who has poor motor skills or a person who had a stroke and can't walk. "A lot of the things that happen to people because of brain dysfunction happen to them while they're walking around and trying to do stuff.”
He said researchers have been working on new ways to image and record brain activity to see where things go wrong, and what can be done about it. Hence, the brain stress test of walking and doing a mental task at the same time.
Foxe said the Cognitive Neurophysiology Lab of the Del Monte Institute is one of few labs in the world using mobile brain/body imaging, called MoBI. The lab receives funding from the National Institutes of Health, and the technology is open source, meaning URMC researchers will share it with scientists elsewhere.
Over the past 10 years, URMC has been involved in 86 research projects into understanding, diagnosing and treating Alzheimer's, according to the university. Total funding for the projects exceeded $33 million.
Two things at once
Current MSTP (MD/PhD) student, David Richardson, who works with study volunteers, cited scientific literature when he said people with Alzheimer’s can struggle with doing a physical and cognitive task at the same time.
“What happens if you ask somebody with Alzheimer’s to walk and talk?” said Richardson, a medical student and doctoral candidate in the medical scientist training program. “If they want to talk, they stop walking. If they want to walk, they stop talking.”
They may do it subconsciously as a way to keep their focus on one task at a time. By asking study participants to do simultaneous physical and mental tasks, the researchers are looking for clues about what happens when a person perceives one of the tasks as difficult.Read More: How well can you walk, think at same time? URMC uses ability to predict Alzheimer's risk
Maiken Nedergaard Recognized for Groundbreaking Research on Glymphatic System
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., has been awarded the with the 2018 Eric K. Fernstrom Foundation Grand Nordic Prize for her work that led to the discovery of the brain’s unique waste removal system and its role in a number of neurological disorders. Nedergaard maintains labs at the Medical Center and the University of Copenhagen.
In 2012, Nedergaard’s lab was the first to reveal the brain’s unique process of removing waste, dubbed the glymphatic system, which consists of a plumbing system that piggybacks on the brain’s blood vessels and pumps cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) through the brain’s tissue, flushing away waste.
Nedergaard’s lab has since gone on to show that the glymphatic system works primarily while we sleep, could be a key player in diseases like Alzheimer’s, is disrupted after traumatic brain injury, may be enhanced by moderate alcohol consumption, and could be harnessed as a new way to deliver drugs to the brain.
The Eric K. Fernstrom Foundation annually awards the Grand Nordic Prize to a medical research from one of the Nordic Countries. The award was announced during a ceremony on November 7 at Lund University in Sweden.Read More: Maiken Nedergaard Recognized for Groundbreaking Research on Glymphatic System
Study: Attention Requires Balance in the Brain
Monday, October 29, 2018
The ability to focus attention is a fundamental challenge that the brain must solve and one that is essential to navigating our daily lives. In developmental disorders such as Autism this ability is impaired. New research published in the journal Nature Communications shows that nerve cells maintain a state of balance when preparing to interpret what we see and this may explain why the healthy brain can block out distractions.
The new research, which was co-authored by Adam Snyder, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the University of Rochester Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and UR Medicine Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience, marks a departure from the established view of how the brain tackles the task of identifying what is important.
“The visual world contains more information than our brains can handle,” said Snyder. “This research shows that when anticipating stimulus, the brain maintains a pattern consisting of stimulated and unstimulated neurons and that these patterns differ from when the brain is actually processing information.”
While it is known that the process of paying attention amplifies neural signals in the brain in order to prepare for relevant information, how the brain achieves this state of readiness remains unknown. One theory that has gained acceptance among the neuroscience community is that the nerve cells in the brain anticipate stimuli and maintain a heightened state of readiness.
“The prevailing view is that something happens to activate neurons so they will amplify the response to stimuli, like turning up the stereo so when the music starts it is already louder,” said Snyder. “Our suspicion is that the brain doesn’t work this way because the problem when you crank up the volume is you also get static noise.”
Disorders like Autism are characterized by the inability to parse through stimuli and identify what is important. This is often manifested in oversensitivity to certain visual or auditory environments where the brain has difficulty in separating the relevant information from ‘static.’ Over time, this inability to focus and block out distractions can give rise to atypical social behavior.Read More: Study: Attention Requires Balance in the Brain
New Research Seeks to Understand Link Between Iron and Brain Development
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Iron deficiency is the one of the most prevalent nutritional deficiencies in the world and affects mainly pregnant mothers and young children. Numerous studies have found that mothers who have low iron levels during pregnancy, have a higher risk of giving birth to a child that develops cognitive impairments like autism, attention deficit syndrome, and learning disabilities. While the link between gestational iron deficiency (GID) and cognitive impairment in offspring is well establish, the mechanisms by which this occurs remain unknown.
Margot Mayer-Proschel, Ph.D., an associate professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Department of Biomedical Genetics, has established animal models of GID and was the first to pinpoint the critical periods of gestation during which the developing central nervous system is most vulnerable to GID. Her laboratory recently demonstrated that nerve cells in the brains of animals born to iron deficient mice behave abnormally to excitatory brain stimuli and has shown that functional impairments cannot be restored by iron supplements later in life.Read More: New Research Seeks to Understand Link Between Iron and Brain Development
Peering Into What Goes Awry in Schizophrenia
Thursday, October 18, 2018
David Dodell-Feder, an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical & Social Sciences in Psychology, uses neuroimaging and MRI scanners in his studies on cognitive functioning in people with schizophrenia. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)
Personable, with a self-deprecating humor, David Dodell-Feder undertakes research that belies his easy-going manner. A new assistant professor in the University’s psychology department with a secondary appointment in neuroscience, he studies the processes that underlie how humans navigate the social world and how those processes go awry in people with schizophrenia.
Every human’s physical and mental constitution demands social connection and social contact, but “large numbers of people don’t have that social connection and therefore don’t get to reap the benefits of having close social relationships,” says Dodell-Feder. That’s why people with schizophrenia have trouble forming, establishing, and maintaining healthy social relationships, romantic relationships, and relationships at work.Read More: Peering Into What Goes Awry in Schizophrenia
Study Points to New Method to Deliver Drugs to the Brain
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) have discovered a potentially new approach to deliver therapeutics more effectively to the brain. The research could have implications for the treatment of a wide range of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, and brain cancer.
“Improving the delivery of drugs to the central nervous system is a considerable clinical challenge,” said Maiken Nedergaard M.D., D.M.Sc., co-director of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Center for Translational Neuromedicine and lead author of the article which appears today in the journal JCI Insight. “The findings of this study demonstrate that the brain’s waste removal system could be harnessed to transport drugs quickly and efficiently into the brain.”
Many promising therapies for diseases of the central nervous system have failed in clinical trials because of the difficulty in getting enough of the drugs into the brain to be effective. This is because the brain maintains its own closed environment that is protected by a complex system of molecular gateways – called the blood-brain barrier – that tightly control what can enter and exit the brain.Read More: Study Points to New Method to Deliver Drugs to the Brain
Study Points to Possible New Therapy for Hearing Loss
Monday, October 15, 2018
Researchers have taken an important step toward what may become a new approach to restore the hearing loss. In a new study, out today in the European Journal of Neuroscience, scientists have been able to regrow the sensory hair cells found in the cochlea – a part of the inner ear – that converts sound vibrations into electrical signals and can be permanently lost due to age or noise damage.
Hearing impairment has long been accepted as a fact of life for the aging population – an estimated 30 million Americans suffer from some degree of hearing loss. However, scientists have long observed that other animals – namely birds, frogs, and fish – have been shown to have the ability to regenerate lost sensory hair cells.
“It’s funny, but mammals are the oddballs in the animal kingdom when it comes to cochlear regeneration,” said Jingyuan Zhang, Ph.D., with the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Department of Neuroscience and first author of the study. “We’re the only vertebrates that can’t do it.”
Research conducted in the lab of Patricia White, Ph.D., in 2012 identified a family of receptors – called epidermal growth factor (EGF) – responsible for activating support cells in the auditory organs of birds. When triggered, these cells proliferate and foster the generation of new sensory hair cells. She speculated that this signaling pathway could potentially be manipulated to produce a similar result in mammals. White is a research associate professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience and lead author of the current study.Read More: Study Points to Possible New Therapy for Hearing Loss
Professor Carney will speak at Rochester Science Cafe
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Professor Laurel Carney will be speaking at the Rochester Science Cafe at the Pittsford Barnes & Noble on Tuesday, October 23 at 7pm. She will be speaking in the community room on the topic, “‘What?’ How Hearing Loss Affects Speech Perception.” Science Cafes are interactive events involving face-to-face conversations with leading scientists about relevant current topics. For more information, visit sciencecaferochester.blogspot.com.
Professors Anne Luebke and Ross Maddox receive NSF award
Tuesday, October 2, 2018
BME Professors Anne Luebke and Ross Maddox along with Co-PI Elizabeth Marvin (Eastman School of Music) have received an award from the National Science Foundation for their project, "NeuroDataRR. Collaborative Research: Testing the relationship between musical training and enhanced neural coding and perception in noise.” This is a collaborative effort involving several universities: University of Minnesota (Dr. Andrew Oxenham, Lead PI), Purdue University, Carnegie Mellon University, Boston University, University of Western Ontario, and the University of Rochester.
This project will determine whether formal musical training is associated with enhanced neural processing and perception of sounds, including speech in noisy backgrounds. Music forms an important part of the lives of millions of people around the world, and it is one of the few universals shared by all known human cultures. Yet its utility and potential evolutionary advantages remain a mystery. This project will test the hypothesis that early musical exposure has benefits that extend beyond music to critical aspects of human communication, such as speech perception in noise. In addition, this project will test whether early musical training is associated with less severe effects of ageing on the ability to understand speech in noisy backgrounds. Degraded ability to understand speech in noise is a common complaint among older listeners, and one that can have a profound impact on quality of life, as has been shown by the associations between hearing loss, social isolation, and more rapid cognitive and health declines. If formal musical training is shown to be associated with improved perception and speech communication in later life, the outcomes could have a potentially major impact on many aspects of public and educational policy.
UR Medicine Unveils Upstate New York’s First Mobile Stroke Unit
Thursday, September 27, 2018
Next month, UR Medicine will begin operation of a Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU), a high-tech ‘emergency room on wheels’ that is designed to provide life-saving care to stroke victims. The $1 million unit will be operated in partnership with AMR as a community resource and represents a significant step forward for stroke care in the Rochester region.
While the MSU resembles an ambulance on the outside, inside it contains highly specialized staff, equipment, and medications used to diagnose and treat strokes. The unit is equipped with a portable CT scanner that is capable of imaging the patient’s brain to detect the type of stroke they are experiencing. The scans and results from a mobile lab on the unit are wirelessly transmitted to UR Medicine stroke specialists at Strong Memorial Hospital, who will consult with the on board EMS staff via telemedicine and decide if they can begin treatment immediately on scene.
If it is determined that the patient is experiencing an ischemic stroke – which account for approximately 90 percent of all strokes – the MSU team can administer the drug tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) to attempt to break up the clot in the patient’s brain. While en route to the hospital, UR Medicine specialists will continue to remotely monitor and assess the patient’s symptoms.
“The UR Medicine Mobile Stroke Unit essentially brings the hospital to the patient,” said neurosurgeon Tarun Bhalla, M.D., Ph.D., with the UR Medicine Comprehensive Stroke Center. “This unit will improve care and outcomes by shortening the gap between diagnosis and treatment and enable us to initiate care before the patient reaches the hospital.”
It is estimated that 3,000 people in Monroe County suffer from a stroke every year. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and the number one cause of long-term disability in the U.S. However, if caught early, many stroke victims can make a full recovery.
“Ten years ago we realized there was an epidemic of stroke in our community which resulted in tremendous human suffering and health care costs,” said Web Pilcher, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the UR Medicine Department of Neurosurgery. “We decided to embark on a long-term plan to provide the best stroke care in upstate New York. The Mobile Stroke Unit represents the next evolution in that effort and places Rochester among an elite list of communities with this cutting-edge technology.”
The current best treatment for stroke is tPA. But in order to work properly, the drug must be given within four and half hours of the first stroke symptoms. Depending upon the circumstances, doctors may also elect to perform a minimally invasive endovascular surgical procedure that involves threading a catheter through the blood vessels and physically removing the obstruction in the brain. The capabilities provided by the MSU to diagnose, start treatment, and prepare hospital staff to receive the patient before they arrive at the emergency department will save lives and improve chances of recovery.
“In stroke care, time equals brain,” said neurologist Curtis Benesch, M.D., M.P.H., with the UR Medicine Comprehensive Stroke Center. “The approximately 30 minutes that could be saved by the Mobile Stroke Unit by starting treatment before a stroke patient reaches the hospital could mean the difference between the recovery of function or a lifetime of impairment.”
“Patients who receive tPA sooner are more likely to go home and retain the ability to walk and care for themselves,” said Bob Holloway, M.D., M.P.H., chair of the UR Medicine Department of Neurology. “The Mobile Stroke Unit will improve outcomes for stroke victims in our community and, because people with less disability use fewer health care resources, lower costs in the long term.”
The unit is owned by UR Medicine and will be operated by AMR. The MSU will be staffed by a UR Medicine nurse trained in stroke care and a CT technician, an AMR paramedic and emergency medical technician, and remotely by a stroke specialist at UR Medicine.
The construction and operating costs of the unit, which was custom built by Frazer Ltd. in Houston, are being funded by UR Medicine and philanthropy, including a lead gift from Elena Prokupets and support from the Del Monte family and other donors in the Rochester community.
“We are extremely grateful to Elena for her gift to the School of Medicine and Dentistry, which has made it possible to bring this life saving technology to Rochester,” said Mark Taubman, M.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center. “Her generosity, along with the support of many others, has provided us the resources to invest in the infrastructure, technology, and clinical talent necessary to provide the most advanced stroke care to our community.”
The MSU is part of a broader UR Medicine initiative to bring state-of-the-art stroke care to the region. This includes Strong Memorial Hospital’s designation as the region’s only Comprehensive Stroke Center by the Joint Commission, a certification that indicates that the hospital either meets or exceeds the highest standards of care required to provide timely, advanced, and coordinated care to patients with cerebrovascular disease, and the Neuromedicine Intensive Care Unit, a 12-bed ICU that provides care to critically ill patients with complex neurological life threating illnesses such as stroke. UR Medicine stroke specialists also provide 24/7 consultation services for emergency department personnel in several hospitals in the region via telemedicine.
Eight years ago, UR Medicine, in partnership with the Greater Rochester Health Foundation, created the Stroke Treatment Alliance of Rochester/New York (STAR-NY), to educate medical professionals and the broader community about stroke recognition and prevention.Read More: UR Medicine Unveils Upstate New York’s First Mobile Stroke Unit
Neuroscience Faculty Awarded Grants
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Congratulations to Neuroscience faculty members Krishnan Padmanabhan for receiving the CAREER: Investigating how internal states, learning and memory shape olfactory coding grant from NSF and to Marc Schieber for his project Observation of Performance issued from DHHS/PHS/NIH.
Krishnan Padmanabhan 2018 CAREER Recipient
Friday, September 14, 2018
Krishnan Padmanabhan was among the eight University of Rochester researchers are among the latest recipients of the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious recognition for junior faculty members: the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award.
Krishnan will use neural tracers, ontogenetic technology, and electrical recordings in the brain to understand how internal state, learning, and memory influence the neurons that shape the perception of smell. “The same cookie may smell and taste differently, depending on our emotional state, our experiences, and our memories,” he says. By interrogating a recently characterized connection between the hippocampus and the olfactory bulb, he aims to understand how perception is reshaped by experience.Read More: Krishnan Padmanabhan 2018 CAREER Recipient
Neuroscience Graduate Program Student Receives Award for SfN Trainee Professional Development
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Emily Warner was recently selected to receive a 2018 Trainee Professional Development Award (TPDA) from the Society for Neuroscience. These are highly competitive awards and it is a great achievement for Emily.
The award comes with a complementary registration to the conference in San Diego and a monetary award of $1000. Emily will present a poster at a poster session for other recipients and will be able to attend several Professional Development Workshops while at the conference.
Researchers Harness Virtual Reality, Motion Capture to Study Neurological Disorders
Wednesday, September 5, 2018
Neuroscientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) have a powerful new state-of-the-art tool at their disposal to study diseases like Autism, Alzheimer’s, and traumatic brain injury. The Mobile Brain/Body Imaging system, or MoBI, combines virtual reality, brain monitoring, and Hollywood-inspired motion capture technology, enabling researchers to study the movement difficulties that often accompany neurological disorders and why our brains sometimes struggle while multitasking.
“Many studies of brain activity occur in controlled environments where study subjects are sitting in a sound proof room staring at a computer screen,” said John Foxe, Ph.D., director of the URMC Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience. “The MoBI system allows us to get people walking, using their senses, and solving the types of tasks you face every day, all the while measuring brain activity and tracking how the processes associated with cognition and movement interact.”
The MoBI platform – which is located in the Del Monte Institute’s Cognitive Neurophysiology Lab – brings together several high tech systems. Using the same technology that is employed by movie studios to produce CGI special effects, study participants wear a black body suite that is fitted with reflective markers. Participants are then asked to walk on a treadmill or manipulate objects at a table in a room fitted out with 16 high speed cameras that record the position of the markers with millimeter precision. This data is mapped to a computer generated 3D model that tracks movement.
Read More: Researchers Harness Virtual Reality, Motion Capture to Study Neurological Disorders
Neuroscience Faculty Earn Awards at Convocation 2018
Friday, August 24, 2018
Faculty Teaching, Mentoring & Diversity Awards
- Martha J. Gdowski, PhD - Commendation for First Year Teaching, awarded by URSMD Class of 2021
- Ania Majewska, PhD - Academic Mentoring Award for Trainees in Basic Science
- Sarah E. McConnell, PhD - Manuel D. Goldman Prize for Excellence in First Year Teaching, awarded by URSMD Class of 2021
- Sergiy M. Nadtochiy, PhD - Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Teaching, awarded by UR Medical Student Interclass Senate
Postdoctoral Achievement Awards
- Kevin A. Mazurek, PhD (currently Research Professor in Dept. NS)
Neuroscience Graduate Program Student Receive 3 Convocation Awards
Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Congratulations to our NGP students for again earning these honors at this year's School of Medicine and Dentistry Convocation Ceremony.
- Kathryn Toffolo (1st year): Merritt and Marjorie Cleveland Fellowship Award
- This fellowship was established in 1991 from Mr. and Mrs. Merritt Cleveland and is awarded to a Ph.D. student entering graduate study through the Biomedical Sciences Program with interest in developing a neuroscience-related research career.
- Monique Mendes (4th year): Outstanding Student Mentor Award
- This award, established in 2015, recognizes a student mentor who guides, supports and promotes the training and career development of others.
- Gregory Reilly (1st year): J. Newell Stannard Graduate Student Scholarship Award
- This scholarship was established by Dr. Stannard, Professor Emeritus, to recognize one deserving incoming graduate student for their commendable academic achievements. Dr. Stannard developed the world’s first doctoral program in radiation biology at the School of Medicine and was a faculty member for almost 40 years before retiring in 1975. He taught and mentored hundreds of students who went on to become leaders and experts in the field of radiation health.
NGP Student Monique Mendes Selected as a Neuroscience Scholars Program Fellow
Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Monique was selected by the Society for Neuroscience's Professional Development Committee and its Diversity in Neuroscience Subcommittee as a Neuroscience Scholars Program Fellow. This program is designed to provide underrepresented graduate students in neuroscience with career development and networking opportunities to help them with success going into the future.
The program provides the following benefits:
- A mentoring team consisting of a senior mentor and a member of the Diversity in Neuroscience Subcommittee. The team will discuss a fellow's research, career plans, and overall experience.
- Two years of complimentary SfN membership.
- A travel award to attend the SfN annual meeting each fall during the two-year program.
- Up to $1500 in enrichment funds to support allowed professional development activities.
NGP Student Receives Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award
Thursday, June 21, 2018
Rianne Stowell, a fourth year NGP graduate student, has been awarded a two year NIH Fellowship award (F31) for her project titled, “Noradrenergic modulation of microglial dynamics and synaptic plasticity”. Rianne works in the laboratory of Ania Majewska, Ph.D.
The purpose of the Kirschstein National Research Service Award program is to enable promising predoctoral students with potential to develop into a productive, independent research scientists, to obtain mentored research training while conducting dissertation research.
Well done Rianne!
Kevin Mazurek Receives CTSI Career Development Award
Friday, June 15, 2018
The University’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute has selected the recipients of its Career Development Award, which provides two years of support to help early career scientists transition to independent careers as clinical and translational investigators. This year’s awardees will study suicide prevention among Hispanic populations and how the brain controls voluntary movements.
Kevin A. Mazurek, research assistant professor of neuroscience, whose project is “Determining how Cortical Areas Communicate Information to Perform Voluntary Movements.” Mazurek, whose primary mentor is John Foxe, professor of neuroscience, received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Brown University in 2008 and his doctorate in electrical engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 2013. He studies the neural control of voluntary movements in order to develop rehabilitative solutions that can restore function to individuals with neurologic diseases by effectively bypassing impaired or damaged neural connections.
The Career Development program is supported by a KL2 award from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health. The UR CTSI Career Development Award Program releases its request for applications each September with applications due in November.Read More: Kevin Mazurek Receives CTSI Career Development Award
Neuroscience Grad Student Awarded NIH Diversity Fellowship
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Monique S. Mendes, a neuroscience Ph.D. student, is the first University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) graduate student to receive a prestigious diversity award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders in Stroke (NINDS). Mendes works in the laboratory of Ania Majewska, Ph.D. and studies the role that the brain’s immune cells play in development, learning, and diseases like Autism.
Mendes, originally from Kingston, Jamaica, received her undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Florida. She came to URMC in search of a robust program that focused on glial biology and a collaborative environment. She chose the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience to complete her thesis work due in part to Majewska’s record of mentoring students and her lab’s reputation for conducting leading research in brain development.
Mendes has been awarded a F99/K00 NIH Blueprint Diversity Specialized Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience (D-SPAN) fellowship from NINDS. The award was created to provide outstanding young neuroscientists from diverse backgrounds a pathway to develop independent research careers. Unlike traditional graduate student fellowships, this award provides research funding for 6 years, including dissertation research and mentored postdoctoral research career development.
Read the local Jamacian Observer newspaper article.
Read More: Neuroscience Grad Student Awarded NIH Diversity Fellowship
Fourth year NGP Graduate Student Publishes in Journal of Neuroscience
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Fourth year NGP graduate student Patrick Miller-Rhodes (Gelbard lab) has recently published a single author review in Journal of Neuroscience (Journal Club, J Neurosci. 2018 38(19):4457– 4459) tackling the fascinating and timely topic of the heterogeneity of microglial mechanisms that contribute to normal brain functions such as synaptic plasticity. In this publication, Patrick highlights a recent study by NGP alumna Rebecca Lowery (Majewska lab; Glia 65(11):1744-1761), showing that microglial CX3CR1 loss does not affect multiple forms of plasticity, to make his point that the mechanisms microglia use to support neuronal function are likely diverse and differ based on brain region and developmental stage.
Congratulations Patrick and go NGP!
Ian Dickerson awarded University seed funding
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
University Research Awards, which provide “seed” grants for promising research, have been awarded to 15 projects for 2018-19. The projects range from an analysis of the roles of prisons in the Rochester region, to a new approach to genome editing, to new initiatives for advanced materials for powerful lasers.
The funding has been increased from $500,000 to $1 million. Half of the funding comes from the President’s Fund, with the rest being matched by the various schools whose faculty members are recipients.
Ian Dickerson, associate professor of neuroscience, and Joseph Miano, professor, Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute received the funding for "Pre-clinical mouse model for atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS)".Read More: Ian Dickerson awarded University seed funding
URMC Researcher Featured in Academic Stories
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Kevin Mazurek, PhD recently gave an interview for the online Academic Stories blog, entitled "Researchers Discover How to Inject Instructions into the Premotor Cortex".
"Thanks to our brain’s complex network of connections, we are able to effortlessly move through and react to the world around us. But for people with strokes or traumatic brain injuries, these connections are disrupted making some basic functions challenging. Kevin Mazurek and his mentor Marc Schieber at the University of Rochester have made a discovery with the potential to help restore neural connections in patients. They have found a way to “inject” information directly into the premotor cortex of two rhesus monkeys, bypassing the visual centres."
Academic Stories, a division of Academic Media Group, aims to inspire more people to pursue academic careers by sharing groundbreaking research and the people and places that make it possible. Academic Stories brings their stories to a larger audience in an accessible way.Read More: URMC Researcher Featured in Academic Stories
Syd Cash, MD, PhD Delivers Elizabeth Doty Lecture
Thursday, May 24, 2018
Sydney S. Cash, M.D., Ph.D. presented, "Multiscale Studies of Human Cortical Oscillations during Sleep and Cognition" for the Elizabeth Doty lecture. Sydney comes to us from Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital where his research is dedicated to trying to understand normal and abnormal brain activity using multi-modal and multi-scalar approaches.
The Department of Neuroscience hosts the Elizabeth Doty Lectureship each year to honor Robert W. Doty, PhD, an esteemed member of the department, who created this neuroscience lectureship in memory of his wife and the 58 years they shared in marriage. A particular passion of Dr. Doty’s was his quest to understand the meaning of consciousness and its underlying neural basis. Each year the committee invites an accomplished neuroscientist to present a lecture that will address in some way how the workings of the mind derive from neuronal activity. The intent of the Lecture is to appeal to a wide and diverse audience to include all interested in the neural sciences – faculty, alumni, students, and other scholars.
Brain Science Suggests This Is the Best Position to Sleep In
Thursday, May 17, 2018
Sleep is critical for rest and rejuvenation. A human being will actually die of sleep deprivation before starvation--it takes about two weeks to starve, but only 10 days to die if you go without sleep.
The CDC has also classified insufficient sleep as a public health concern. Those who don't get enough sleep are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases that include hypertension, diabetes, depression, obesity, and cancer.
It's thus vital to get enough shuteye, but it turns out your sleep position also has a significant impact on the quality of rest you get.
In addition to regulating one's appetite, mood, and libido, neuroscientists assert that sleep reenergizes the body's cells, aids in memory and new learning, and clears waste from the brain.
That last one is particularly important. Similar to biological functions in which your body clears waste, your brain needs to get rid of unwanted material. The more clearly it functions, the more clearly you do.
Now, a neuroscience study suggests that of all sleep positions, one is most helpful when it comes to efficiently cleaning out waste from the brain: sleeping on your side.
The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, used dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI to image the brain's "glymphatic pathway." This is the system by which cerebrospinal fluid filters through the brain and swaps with interstitial fluid (the fluid around all other cells in the body).
The exchange of the two fluids is what allows the brain to eliminate accumulated waste products, such as amyloid beta and tau proteins. What are such waste chemicals associated with? Among other conditions, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
"It is interesting that the lateral [side] sleep position is already the most popular in humans and most animals--even in the wild," said University of Rochester's Maiken Nedergaard. "It appears that we have adapted the lateral sleep position to most efficiently clear our brain of the metabolic waste products that build up while we are awake."Read More: Brain Science Suggests This Is the Best Position to Sleep In
Rochester Research Cited in Psychology Today Article
Monday, May 14, 2018
Work in the Schieber lab by Marc Schieber and Kevin Mazurek was included in "The Sensory Revolution" in Psychology Today.
Our senses are under constant threat from the stimuli, routines, and ailments of the modern world. Fortunately, neuroscience is inspiring remedies that not only restore sensory input but radically alter it.
Sometimes sensation makes its way to the brain but doesn't alter behavior because the brain's wiring fails, as in stroke or localized brain damage. Neuroscientists Marc Schieber and Kevin Mazurek, both at the University of Rochester, have demonstrated a method that might bypass these downed lines. They've trained two monkeys to perform four instructed actions, such as turning a knob or pressing a button. But that instruction takes the form of an electrical signal sent to electrodes in the monkeys' premotor cortex, an area between the sensory cortices and the motor cortex, which controls muscle movement. Even without any sensory instruction, the monkeys were nearly 100 percent accurate at interpreting the signal and performing the correct action.Read More: Rochester Research Cited in Psychology Today Article
Words from Wallis Hall: The University's Neuroscience Network
Friday, May 11, 2018
University president Richard Feldman in the latest Words from Wallis Hall has recognized the efforts of the Del Monte Institute for Neurosciences in making Rochester a leader in the field of neuroscience.
"The Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience has been instrumental in bringing together neuroscience and related research at the Medical Center and the River Campus. That interdisciplinary work and our history in the field have helped make Rochester an important player in neuroscience, and have helped sharpen our focus and further critical research into Alzheimer’s and intellectual and developmental disabilities such as autism and dyslexia," says Feldman.Read More: Words from Wallis Hall: The University's Neuroscience Network
Schieber lab publishes paper in Journal of Neuroscience
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Kevin Mazurek, Adam Rouse, and Marc Schieber published a manuscript in the Journal of Neuroscience on May 2, 2018 entitled "Mirror Neuron Populations Represent Sequences of Behavioral Epochs During Both Execution and Observation"Read More: Schieber lab publishes paper in Journal of Neuroscience
Liz Romanski Awarded R21 from NIDCD
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
The Romanski lab has been awarded an R21 grant from the NIDCD entitled, "Audiovisual Processing in Temporal-Prefrontal Circuits."
Neuroscience Lab Holds ‘Brain Day’ at Local School
Monday, April 30, 2018
Last Friday, staff from the Del Monte Neuroscience Institute’s Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory (CNL) spent the afternoon at the Hope Hall School explaining the mysteries of the human brain and exposing students to careers in STEM fields.
The Hope Hall School, located in Gates, serves students with special learning needs in grades 2 through 12 from school districts across the greater Rochester area. Similar events at other schools in the area are being planned by the CNL staff.Read More: Neuroscience Lab Holds ‘Brain Day’ at Local School
Scholarship Award Winner: Kevin Mazurek
Monday, April 30, 2018
Kevin Mazurek received a Scholarship Award from the Neural Control of Movement (NCM) Society to present an individual presentation at the NCM Annual Meeting held in Santa Fe, New Mexico (April 30 - May 4).Read More: Scholarship Award Winner: Kevin Mazurek
Neuroscience Graduate Student publishes paper with the Briggs lab
Friday, April 27, 2018
Neuroscience Graduate student Allison Murphy co-authored a paper with the Briggs lab while in a rotation with the lab. Allison contributed an extensive amount of work toward the paper during her fall rotation, and the paper was accepted shortly after her joining the lab.
Postdoctoral fellow, Mike Hasse was the first author on the paper, "Morphological heterogeneity among corticogeniculate neurons in ferrets: quantification and comparison with a previous report in macaque monkeys."
Nice work Allison and Mike!!Read More: Neuroscience Graduate Student publishes paper with the Briggs lab
Krishnan Padmanabhan Recognized as a Polak Young Investigator
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Krishnan Padmanabhan, PhD was recently awarded one of the 2018 Polak Young Investigator Awards by the Association for Chemoreception Sciences (AChemS).
The purpose of this award is to encourage and recognize innovative research at the annual conference by young investigators. The Incoming Program Chair, with help from the Program Committee will select 5-6 young investigators based upon the scientific merit of their abstract submission. Each selected investigator will deliver an oral slide presentation during the AChemS meeting (or satellite conference). The abstract will be organized within the program-at-large by scientific topic and presenters will be recognized as Polak Young Investigators during the introduction of their presentations by the session chair or the abstracts may be presented in one awards session.
Congratulations Dr. Padmanabhan!!Read More: Krishnan Padmanabhan Recognized as a Polak Young Investigator
Neuroscience Graduate Student Awarded Messersmith Dissertation Fellowship for 2018-2019
Monday, April 23, 2018
Jessica Hogestyn, a PhD candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Program has been awarded a $23,000 Messersmith Dissertation Fellowship for 2018-2019. The Messersmith Fellowship is a competitive one-year fellowship for students in the pre-clinical departments of the School of Medicine and Dentistry or in Biology, Chemistry, Optics or Physics. Appropriate candidates have passed the qualifying exam and are in the process of writing their dissertations or are at least engaged in full-time research.
Neuroscience Graduate Student Receives American Heart Association Pre-Doctoral Fellowship
Monday, April 23, 2018
Kathleen Gates has been awarded an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship. This fellowship is meant to enhance the integrated research and clinical training of promising students who are matriculated in pre-doctoral or clinical health professional degree training programs and who intend careers as scientists, physician-scientists or other clinician-scientists, or related careers aimed at improving global cardiovascular health.
Dr. Mazurek receives award at national convention
Saturday, April 21, 2018
Kevin Mazurek received a Future Clinical Researcher Scholarship Award from the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) to present a platform presentation at the AAN Annual Meeting held in Los Angeles, California (April 21 - 27).Read More: Dr. Mazurek receives award at national convention
Martina Poletti Awarded University Furth Fund
Friday, April 13, 2018
The Furth Fund, established through the generosity of Valerie and Frank Furth, provides early career scientists with $10,000 in research funds. The funds are used to promote the research activities of the faculty member, which may include the purchase of new equipment or support for graduate students or postdocs.
Dr. Poletti studies the “finely orchestrated interplay between sensory processing, the control of motor behavior, and the allocation of attentional resources” in enabling visual perception, with a particular interest in fine spatial vision processes in the foveola. This is a small high-acuity region of the retina that humans use to inspect objects of interest. Foveal vision is fundamental for normal functioning, yet surprisingly little is known about its mechanisms.
Poletti “strongly exemplifies the highest professional qualities of a junior, tenure track faculty member: productive, innovative researcher with an early and strong publication track record in highly competitive and visible journals; and, highly-competitive grant funding,” says John Foxe, director of the Ernest J. Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience and chair of neuroscience. “Her background and research on human visual perception, attention, and oculomotor control enrich the Department of Neuroscience and complement well the research programs of fellow faculty members.”
Neuroscience Graduate Student Kathryn-Mary Wakim one of Eight Finalists in the Three Minute Thesis Competition
Friday, April 6, 2018
Communicating research with three minutes and a slide
At a time when it is more important than ever for scientists to communicate clearly with the public, eight University PhD students and postdocs will do their best to summarize their research with just three minutes and a slide.
They are finalists in the University’s annual Three Minute Thesis competition, which will be held at 4 p.m., next Thursday, April 12, in the Class of ’62 Auditorium at the Medical Center.
A total of 44 students initially entered the competition, which was founded at University of Queensland, and is now in its third year at Rochester. The eight finalists are:
- Jillian Ramos (biology)
- Derek Crowe (genetics, development, and stem cells)
- Parker Riley (computer science)
- Robert Maynard (cellular biology of disease)
- Marian Ackun-Farmmer (biomedical engineering)
- Lauren VanGelder (chemistry)
- Simeon Abiola (translational biomedical science)
- Kathryn-Mary Wakim (neuroscience)
The winner will receive a $750 research travel award. There are also $500 and $200 research travel awards, respectively, for the runner-up and the people’s choice winner.
Congratulations Kamy on reaching the finals!!!Read More: Neuroscience Graduate Student Kathryn-Mary Wakim one of Eight Finalists in the Three Minute Thesis Competition
ERBB is a Novel Candidate for Driving Mammalian Cochlear Regeneration
Thursday, March 22, 2018
Jingyuan Zhang, a Biology PhD student supervised by Professor Patricia M. White is defending her thesis Friday, April 6th from 1-2pm in the Computer Studies building room 209 on the River Campus
Stop over and support Pat and her student.
New Career Development Awardees to Study Suicide Prevention and Neural Processing
Monday, March 12, 2018
Kevin Mazurek, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Neurology at URMC, will investigate how areas of the brain communicate information about how and why movements are performed and how neurologic diseases such as epilepsy affect this communication.
Electrophysiological techniques allow for investigating which cortical areas communicate information related to the performance of voluntary movements. For his KL2 project, Dr. Mazurek will analyze changes in neural communication as participants perform the same hand and finger movements when instructed with different sensory cues (e.g. visual, auditory). He will compare healthy individuals and individuals with intractable epilepsy to identify changes in neural communication pathways. Identifying the exact nature in which epileptic activity affects cortical communication could lead to a biomarker for the appropriate connections to target for rehabilitative treatment.Read More: New Career Development Awardees to Study Suicide Prevention and Neural Processing
Professor Studies Complex Brain Networks Involved in Vision
Monday, March 12, 2018
Our brains are made up of an intricate network of neurons. Understanding the complex neuronal circuits—the connections of these neurons—is important in understanding how our brains process visual information.
Farran Briggs, a new associate professor of neuroscience and of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, studies neuronal circuits in the brain’s vision system and how attention affects the brain’s ability to process visual information.
Previously a professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Briggs became interested in neuroscience in high school. “I took a class and just became really fascinated by the brain and how it works,” she says. Today, her research on the fundamental levels of vision may provide new insight on impairments associated with attention deficit disorders.Read More: Professor Studies Complex Brain Networks Involved in Vision
Biological Sex Tweaks Nervous System Networks, Plays Role in Shaping Behavior
Thursday, March 8, 2018
By Mark Michaud
New research published today in the journal Current Biology demonstrates how biological sex can modify communication between nerve cells and generate different responses in males and females to the same stimulus. The findings could new shed light on the genetic underpinnings of sex differences in neural development, behavior, and susceptibility to diseases.
“While the nervous systems of males and females are virtually identical, we know that there is a sex bias in how many neurological diseases manifest themselves, that biological sex can influence behavior in animals, and that some of these differences are likely to be biologically driven,” said Douglas Portman, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Departments of Biomedical Genetics, Neuroscience, and the Center for Neurotherapeutics Discovery at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and lead author of the study. “This study demonstrates a connection between biological sex and the control and function of neural circuits and that these different sex-dependent configurations can modify behavior.”
The findings were made in experiments involving the nematode C. elegans, a microscopic roundworm that has long been used by researchers to understand fundamental mechanisms in biology. Many of the discoveries made using these worms apply throughout the animal kingdom and this research has led to a broader understanding of human biology. In fact, three Nobel Prizes in medicine and chemistry have been awarded for discoveries involving C. elegans.
The study focuses on the different behaviors of male and female worms. There are two sexes of C. elegans, males and hermaphrodites. Although the hermaphrodites are able to self-fertilize, they are also mating partners for males, and are considered to be modified females.
The behavior of C. elegans is driven by sensory cues, primarily smell and taste, which are used by the worms to navigate their environment and communicate with each other. Female worms secrete a pheromone that is known to attract males who are drawn by this signal in search of a mate. Other females, however, are repelled by the same pheromone. It is not entirely understood why, but scientists speculate that that the pheromone signals to females to avoid areas where there may be too much competition. Read More: Biological Sex Tweaks Nervous System Networks, Plays Role in Shaping Behavior
Brain Signal Indicates When You Understand What You’ve Been Told
Friday, February 23, 2018
During everyday interactions, people routinely speak at rates of 120 to 200 words per minute. For a listener to understand speech at these rates – and not lose track of the conversation – the brain must comprehend the meaning of each of these words very rapidly.
“That we can do this so easily is an amazing feat of the human brain – especially given that the meaning of words can vary greatly depending on the context,” says Edmund Lalor, associate professor of biomedical engineering and neuroscience at the University of Rochester and Trinity College Dublin. “For example, ‘I saw a bat flying overhead last night’ versus ‘the baseball player hit a home run with his favorite bat.’”
Now, researchers in Lalor’s lab have identified a brain signal that indicates whether a person is indeed comprehending what others are saying – and have shown they can track the signal using relatively inexpensive EEG (electroencephalography) readings taken on a person’s scalp.Read More: Brain Signal Indicates When You Understand What You’ve Been Told
Congratulations to the Brain Awareness Campaign volunteers for hosting another successful Brain Bee on Saturday, February 3rd!
Friday, February 23, 2018
Great job Nicole Peltier, Jessie Hogestyn, Josh Hinkle, Carol Jew, Alyssa Kersey, Heather Natola and Neal Shah.
The contestants were 10 students from 5 Rochester area schools including Franklin, Brighton, Brockport, Fairport and Rush-Henrietta High Schools. This year’s Rochester Brain Bee Winner is Brian Lin, an 11th grader from Brighton High School. A grant from the Society for Neuroscience to the Rochester SFN Chapter will provide funds for Brian to attend the National Brain Bee in Baltimore, MD next month.
Thank you also to the judges and to the local area businesses who donated funds for supplies, refreshments and prizes for all the contestants.
Training brains—young and old, sick and healthy—with virtual reality
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
An accidental discovery by Rochester researchers in 2003 touched off a wave of research into the area of neuroplasticity in adults, or how the brain’s neural connections change throughout a person’s lifespan.
Fifteen years ago, Shawn Green was a graduate student of Daphne Bavelier, then an associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University. As the two created visual tests together, Green demonstrated exceptional proficiency at taking these tests himself. The two researchers hypothesized that it might be due to his extensive experience playing first-person, action-based video games. From there, Green and Bavelier demonstrated that, indeed, action-based video games enhance the brain’s ability to process visual information.
In years since, video gaming technology has gotten more sophisticated, regularly incorporating or featuring virtual reality (VR). The Oculus Rift headset, for example, connects directly to your PC to create an immersive VR gaming experience.
If we know that action-based video games enhance visual attention, might VR games do the same (and perhaps to a greater degree) because of the increased level of immersion?
That’s the question a current group of Rochester researchers—Duje Tadin, associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences; Jeffrey Bazarian, professor of emergency medicine; and Feng (Vankee) Lin, assistant professor in the School of Nursing—hope to answer.Read More: Training brains—young and old, sick and healthy—with virtual reality
Congratulations Dr. Wong
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
On Feb. 7, 2018, Majewska lab graduate student, Elissa Wong, successfully defended her toxicology PhD thesis entitled, "Consequences of developmental ethanol exposure on synaptic plasticity, microglial phenotype, and dendritic spine dynamics".
She has started an ORISE postdoctoral fellowship at the US FDA in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Division of Biomedical Physics.
In Wine, There’s Health: Low Levels of Alcohol Good for the Brain
Friday, February 2, 2018
By Mark Michaud
While a couple of glasses of wine can help clear the mind after a busy day, new research shows that it may actually help clean the mind as well. The new study, which appears in the journal Scientific Reports, shows that low levels of alcohol consumption tamp down inflammation and helps the brain clear away toxins, including those associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
“Prolonged intake of excessive amounts of ethanol is known to have adverse effects on the central nervous system,” said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and lead author of the study. “However, in this study we have shown for the first time that low doses of alcohol are potentially beneficial to brain health, namely it improves the brain’s ability to remove waste.”
The finding adds to a growing body of research that point to the health benefits of low doses of alcohol. While excessive consumption of alcohol is a well-documented health hazard, many studies have linked lower levels of drinking with a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases as well as a number of cancers.Read More: In Wine, There’s Health: Low Levels of Alcohol Good for the Brain
Lungs Mays Hold Key to Thwarting Brain Damage after a Stroke
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
By Mark Michaud
The harm caused by a stroke can be exacerbated when immune cells rush to the brain an inadvertently make the situation worse. Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) are studying new ways to head off this second wave of brain damage by using the lungs to moderate the immune system’s response.
“It has become increasingly clear that lungs serve as an important regulator of the body’s immune system and could serve as a target for therapies that can mitigate the secondary damage that occurs in stroke,” said URMC neurologist Marc Halterman, M.D., Ph.D. “We are exploring a number of drugs that could help suppress the immune response during these non-infection events and provide protection to the brain and other organs.”
Halterman’s lab, which is part of the Center for NeuroTherapeutics Discovery, has been investigating domino effect that occurs after cardiac arrest. When blood circulation is interrupted, the integrity of our intestines becomes compromised, releasing bacteria that reside in the gut into the blood stream. This prompts a massive immune response which can cause systemic inflammation, making a bad situation worse.
While looking at mouse models of stroke, his lab observed that a similar phenomenon occurs. During a stroke blood vessels in the brain leak and the proteins that comprise the wreckage of damaged neurons and glia cells in the brain make their way into blood stream. The immune system, which is not used to seeing these proteins in circulation, responds to these damage-associated molecular patterns and ramps up to respond. Mobilized immune cells make their way into the brain and, finding no infection, nevertheless trigger inflammation and attack healthy tissue, compounding the damage.
The culprit in this system-wide immune response is neutrophils, a white cell in the blood system that serves as the shock troops of the body’s immune system. Because our entire blood supply constantly circulates through the lungs, the organ serves as an important way station for neutrophils. It is here that the cells are often primed and instructed to go search for new infections. The activated neutrophils can also cause inflammation in the lungs, which Halterman suspects may be mistakenly identified as post-stroke pneumonia. The damage caused by activated neutrophils can also spread to other organs including the kidneys, and liver.Read More: Lungs Mays Hold Key to Thwarting Brain Damage after a Stroke
NINDS Names Dr. Nina Schor as Deputy Director
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has named pediatric neurologist Nina Schor, M.D., Ph.D. as Deputy Director. Dr. Schor is expected to join the NINDS in January.
Dr. Schor’s experience running a large university department and children’s hospital, along with her extensive basic research background and clinical work, make her an ideal candidate for this position,” said Walter Koroshetz, M.D., NINDS director. “We are delighted to welcome Dr. Schor and look forward to working with her to advance the NINDS’ mission as it relates to neuroscience and neurological disease research.”Read More: NINDS Names Dr. Nina Schor as Deputy Director
The Art of Science: Grad Student Finds Inspiration in Images of the Brain
Friday, January 12, 2018
The complex biology, networks, and symphony of signals that underlie human cognition are a font of endless mystery and wonder to those who study it. For Rianne Stowell, a graduate student in the lab of URMC neuroscientist Ania Majewska, Ph.D., these questions are also a source of artistic inspiration which has led to the creation of striking paintings of the brain’s inner workings.
Stowell’s most recent creation (above) is based on research which has recently been published in the journal Developmental Neurobiology and sheds new light on the role that immune cells called microglia play in wiring and rewiring the connections between nerve cells.
Stowell recalls wanting to pursue a career in art as far back as elementary school in Pennsylvania and while she carried that desire with her to Moravian College, she also began to explore other academic fields. Her interest in biology and psychology attracted her to a degree in neuroscience and that decision ultimately led her to the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, where she is in now in her fourth year of graduate studies in pursuit of her Ph.D. in neuroscience.
Read More: The Art of Science: Grad Student Finds Inspiration in Images of the Brain
Introducing a New Faculty Member
Friday, January 5, 2018
Michele Rucci has joined the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences as a professor after serving as a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Boston University. Rucci’s research program combines experimental and theoretical approaches to study mechanisms of visual perception. His primary interests lie in the elucidation of how motor and sensory processes interact in the human brain and how motor behavior contributes to the extraction and processing of visual information. Rucci and his colleagues have explained the functional roles of microscopic eye movements that take place while we fixate on an object of interest. He has demonstrated that these miniature eye movements play important roles in reformatting the visual input to be processed efficiently and for systematically exploring objects during tasks that require high spatial precision. He received Laurea (MA) and PhD degrees in biomedical engineering from the University of Florence and the Scuola Superiore S. Anna in Pisa, respectively. Before joining the faculty of Boston University, he was a fellow in computational neuroscience at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego.
Rianne Stowell has 1st Author Paper Accepted in Developmental Neurobiology
Thursday, January 4, 2018
Congratulations to Rianne and the Majewska lab for having their paper accepted for publication!
"Cerebellar microglia are dynamically unique and survey Purkinje neurons in vivo"
Authors: Stowell, R. D., Wong, E. L., Batchelor, H. N., Mendes, M. S., Lamantia, C. E., Whitelaw, B. S., & Majewska, A. K.