Neuroscience News Fall 2002

Published by the UCLA Brain Research Institute 
FALL, 2002 
Volume 11, No. 3

Table of Contents

Published by the UCLA Brain Research Institute
Fall, 2002 
Volume 11, No. 3

By Jeanine Moreno

Ashley Blouin graduated from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry. Her current research interest is in behavioral/animal models of psychiatric disease and biochemical mechanisms underlying psychiatric illnesses, such as anxiety disorders and schizophrenia.

Seth Bouvier received a Bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Dartmouth College. After graduating, he obtained a fellowship at the National Institute of Mental Health where his research consisted of using functional neuroimaging to study schizophrenia. He then came to UCLA to work with Nancy Sicotte, and used whole-brain structural measures to validate novel treatments for Multiple Sclerosis. Seth’s future research plans are to use fMRI to investigate human perception/cognition.

Jennifer Bramen received a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience from UCLA. She is currently researching the localization of electrical events recorded from the scalp using simultaneous EEG/ fMRI, elucidating the role of mismatch negativity in auditory change detection, and finding the mechanisms that underlie the mismatch negativity and discovering which are pathological in schizophrenia. She is also finishing an fMRI study entitled "Effects of Smoking on the Brain," and a PET study of cerebral dysfunction in methamphetamine abusers in early abstinence.

Elizabeth (Lisa) Brooks graduated from Stanford University where she received a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree in biological sciences. Lisa plans on researching neurodegeneration and synaptic plasticity.

UCLA alumna, Ann Fink, obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology with a minor in cognitive science. Ann’s research interests are in the area of learning and memory, and psychoneuroimmunology.

Sandeep Gyawali is an alumnus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry and plans on conducting research on monoamine systems.

Medical Scientist Training Program student, Nathan Hageman graduated from The Johns Hopkins University with a degree in chemistry, biology, and physics. Nathan is currently investigating optical imaging with Arthur Toga in the Laboratory of NeuroImaging (LONI). His research focuses on a project involving optical imaging, a novel imaging modality that uses visual light to create a functional map of the brain. In collaboration with the Department of Surgery, Division of Neurosurgery, studies investigate how this imaging method can benefit patients prior to surgery.

Thao Hoang graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of Science degree in physiological science. Her research interests are spinal cord injury and neural repair.

Che Hutson graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of Science degree in marine biology.

Brian Jackson obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh. Brian’s research interests range from drugs of abuse and addiction, to neural repair and neurodegenerative disease.

Emily Jocoy received a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience from UCLA. Her research interests concern the basal ganglia and neurodegenerative diseases that strike this area of the brain.

Saera Lee graduated from Seoul Women's University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. Sara’s interests focus on neurodegenerative diseases.

John Ohab graduated with a degree in biopsychology from UC Santa Barbara. His research interests focus on neural repair and psychiatric disease.

Elizabeth (Libby) O’Hare is a graduate from Bryn Mawr College. Libby earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, with a concentration in the area of neural and behavioral sciences. Her interests involve using neuroimaging techniques to investigate higher cognitive processes.

Michael Oldham graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, with a minor in chemistry, from Duke University. His current research interest is the neurobiological basis of language.

Debora Smith received a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from Boston University. Debora’s research interests focus on the development of the nervous system and its contribution to disease.

Stephen Wilson obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Sydney, and a Master’s degree from UCLA, both in linguistics. His current research interests are cognitive neuroscience, with a focus on language.

Zhongqi-Phyllis Wu attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry. She is interested in learning and memory studies.

The Brain Research Institute welcomes these new students in the Graduate Interdepartmental Program for Neuroscience. This is in the largest entering class of students since the Program’s inception.


The Brain Research Institute welcomes six new members Dr. Christopher Giza,Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Neurosurgery, and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neurology; Dr. Charles Glatt, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences; Dr. Ming Guo, Assistant Professor of Neurology; Dr.Russell Poldrack, Assistant Professor of Psychology; Dr. Daniel Silverman, Assistant Professor of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, and Head, Neuronuclear Imaging Research Group; and Dr. Xiangdong William Yang, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, recently joined the Brain Research Institute.

Christopher Giza received an  M.D. degree from West Virginia University School of Medicine in 1990. He completed his internship in the Department of Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in 1991. Moving to UCLA, Dr. Giza then completed a residency in neurology, and a clinical fellowship in the Division of Pediatric Neurology, Department of Pediatrics at the UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. From 1996-1997, Dr. Giza was a Search and Rescue Team Member in Yosemite National Park. Returning to UCLA in 1997, Dr. Giza has served in several capacities including staff research assistant in the NPI and Division of Pediatric Neurology, and postdoctoral fellow and assistant researcher in the Division of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery. Dr Giza is currently an assistant professor in the Division of Neurosurgery and the Division of Pediatric Neurology.

Dr. Giza’s research interests focus on traumatic brain injury, neural development, and plasticity. Describing his research projects, Dr. Giza states, “Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the number one cause of death and disability in the pediatric age group.  Using anatomical, physiological, behavioral and molecular techniques, we are seeking to better understand the effects of biomechanical injury to the immature brain. Following developmental TBI, there is evidence of impaired environmental responsiveness in the absence of significant cell death. This indicates that neurons may be in a state of dysfunction that renders them less able to manifest normal neural plasticity.  Our first studies have been aimed at characterizing this loss of plasticity by measuring anatomical, molecular and behavioral responses to rearing in an enriched environment following experimental TBI.  The second project is investigating the role of  glutamate receptor changes in this plasticity impairment after developmental TBI.  Molecular changes in the amount and composition of glutamate receptors can have important functional consequences with regards to ionic flux, synaptogenesis and electrophysiology.  Lastly, post-TBI neural dysfunction may manifest by altered vulnerability to a second injury.  Using physiological stimuli such as seizure activity, or specific pharmacological toxins, we are studying mechanisms that result in enhanced sensitivity of traumatically-injured neurons to secondary insults.”

Charles Glatt received an M.D., Ph.D. degree in neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1994.  He completed a residency in psychiatry at the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship, at UC San Francisco. Moving to Los Angeles, Dr. Glatt joined UCLA and is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Science.

Dr. Glatt’s research interest is behavioral genetics. He states, “My current research focuses on developing novel approaches to complex genetic traits with a particular focus on behavioral genetics. This process involves identifying genetic variation in genes related to monoamine neurotransmission and identifying genotype-phenotype correlation at the molecular level. This information will allow novel analyses of association studies that will increase statistical power by grouping  multiple interacting variants. These novel approaches will then be applied to several association studies including antidepressant response and Parkinson’s disease.

Ming Guo  received an M.D. degree from Shanghia Medical University School of Medicine in 1989, and a Ph.D. degree from the University of California, San Francisco in 1996. Dr. Guo’s Ph.D. thesis research was conducted in the laboratory of Dr. Yuh Nung Han in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at UCSF, and concerned the “Control of neuronal fate during asymmetric divisions: interaction of numb, Notch and tramtrack.”  Dr. Guo completed a postdoctoral fellowship at UCSF  in 1997, and a residency in neurology at UCLA in 2001. Working in the laboratory of Dr. Larry Zipursky, Dr. Guo conducted research as a postdoctoral fellow identifying regulators for g-secretase activity implicated in Alzheimer’s disease in Drosophila. During this time, she was also clinical instructor in neurodegenerative disorders. Dr. Guo is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology.

            Describing her research, Dr. Guo states, “We are interested in understanding the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). One of the pathological hallmarks of AD is the accumulation of amyloid plaques consisting of a toxic peptide called A-beta. A-beta is generated from a transmembrane protein, amyloid precursor protein (APP), through the action of two proteases, one of which is gamma secretase.

Gamma secretase is contained in a large multi-protein complex, of which Presenilin and Nicastrin are two components. Since regulators of g-secretase activity are likely to be disease modifiers and therapeutic targets, the identification of other components in the gamma secretase complex and proteins that regulate gamma secretase are critical and set the goals of our research. We aim to identify regulators of g-secretase through function-based in vivo genetic screens in Drosophila, and then to translate these findings into human studies. Using Drosophila will allow us to perform large-scale screens encompassing the majority of the Drosophila genome in a relatively short period of time. We have created flies that act as living reporters for the levels of endogenous g-secretase in the Drosophila eye, a neuronal tissue not essential for fly viability or fertility. The biological readout in this reporter system is eye size.  Flies with high levels of g-secretase activity have small eyes, while those with low levels have large eyes. We have shown that the reporter eye phenotype is dependent on the normal function of Presenilin and Nicastrin. Using these flies as backgrounds, we have carried out genetic screens for enhancers and suppressors of g-secretase activity.

            Two screens that we completed have yielded a number of candidate genes for encoding regulators of g-secretase activity. Currently we are in the process of cloning some of the candidates and characterizing their products. We will focus on genes that have human homologs. Our immediate goal is to determine the mechanism of action of these genes. An important long-term goal is to determine if these genes or their products have diagnostic value to identify human AD susceptibility or resistance genes and/or have potential as drug targets.”

            Russell Poldrack received a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana, in 1995. His doctoral thesis focused on the “Relationship between skill leaning and repetition priming.” Upon completion of his degree, Dr. Poldrack was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University. Since 1999, Dr. Poldrack has served as Assistant Psychologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and Assistant Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School. He is currently a member of the Faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, while concurrently Assistant Professor of Psychology at UCLA.

            Describing his research interests, Dr. Poldrack states, “The research in our lab uses functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the nature of learning-related changes in human brain function. One major focus is on understanding the mechanisms that support learning of new skills. Current projects are investigating the neural basis of classification learning, and the role of cholinergic mechanisms in the modulation of perceptual learning.  Another major focus of the lab is on the neural basis of reading and reading disorders. Ongoing projects are investigating the changes in neural processing associated with the development of reading skill, and the neural correlates of intervention for dyslexia. A third focus of the lab is on the executive control processes mediated by the prefrontal cortex, particularly in the context of language processing.”

            Daniel Silverman, received his Ph.D. degree in biological chemistry from Harvard  University in 1987, and an M.D. degree from Ohio State University in 1992. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in biochemistry and molecular pharmacology at Harvard Medical School in 1988, and upon completion of his medical degree, moved to Los Angeles where he completed a residency in internal medicine at UCLA, and a fellowship in nuclear medicine. Dr. Silverman is currently an Assistant Professor of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, and Head of the Neuronuclear Imaging Research Group.

            Describing his research, Dr. Silverman states, “The two major goals of our research program are to explore in living human brain the interactions and neurologic bases of memory, mood, and pain perception, with respect to both normal and disordered function (as occurs in dementia, depression and chronic pain syndromes), and to
develop noninvasive methodologies with which to optimize management of breast and colorectal cancers. These apparently disparate objectives are united through use of low-level radioactive biochemicals to characterize and map in the human body the distribution of processes having pressing relevance to patients seen in Nuclear and Internal Medicine. Both lines of research involve extensive application of positron emission tomography. With a focus ranging from molecular processes to human behaviors, our research activities correspondingly span the ‘bench to bedside’ spectrum from biochemical work in vitro, to monitoring and impacting upon progress of patients in the Ahmanson Biological Imaging Clinic.”

            Xiangdong William Yang, received a Ph.D. degree from the Rockefeller University in 1998, and then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the Rockefeller University with Dr. Nathaniel Heintz. There he developed a high throughput method to modify bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) and to isolate relatively full length cDNAs from BACs. Dr. Yang then completed  an M.D. degree at The Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York in 2000. During the years 1999-2002, Dr. Yang completed an internship in the Department of Medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, and was a co-principal investigator in the Hereditary Disease Foundation Cure Huntington’s Initiative, and a participant in the Venezuela Collaborative Huntington’s Disease Project under the direction of Dr. Nancy Wexler. Dr. Yang joined UCLA in 2002 as Assistant Professor in Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and the Neuropsychiatric Institute.

Describing his research interests in neurodegenerative disease, Dr. Yang states, “My laboratory is interested in using the mouse genetic approach to study the pathogenesis and to identify potential therapeutic strategies for neurodegenerative diseases, particularly for Huntington’s disease (HD) and Parkinson’s Disease (PD). In addition to
the traditional gene targeting approach in mice, my lab will also employ a novel mouse genetic technology which can rapidly introduce mutations into Bacterial Artificial Chromosomes (BACs) and to generate BAC transgenic mice. Since BACs contain large pieces of genomic DNA (average 180-200kb), such large transgenes can confer accurate expression of marker genes (i.e. EGFP, Cre) or dominant mutations (i.e. CAG expansion) in the transgenic mice. My lab focuses on understanding how mutant Huntingtin acts to result in a wide variety of clinical symptoms ranging from psychiatric, cognitive to motor deficits. These studies will result in the generation and analyzes of brain regional-specific models of HD in mice. We will take advantage of the high-speed BAC transgenic system to systematically test candidate dominant genetic modifiers of HD in mice. Identification of novel genetic modifiers in mice may provide new insights into disease pathogenesis and new targets to develop therapeutics.”

The Brain Research Institute is happy to welcome its newest members.


The Brain Research Institute welcomes two new associate directors, Dr. Chris Evans, Associate Director for Research and Dr. Mike Levine, Associate Director for Education. Mike Levine is also serving as Acting Chair for the Interdepartmental Ph.D. Program for Neuroscience. Previous directors, David Glanzman (Associate Director for Research) and Marie-Françoise Chesselet (Associate Director for Education, and Chair of the Interdepartmental Ph.D. Program for Neuroscience) have relinquished these posts to take on new responsibilities.
The BRI and the IDP are very fortunate to have our programs in such good hands. Dr. Evans is the Stefan Hatos Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Director of the NIDA-funded Center for Study of Opioid Receptors and Drugs of Abuse. Dr. Levine is Chair of the Undergraduate Neuroscience Interdepartmental Program and is also Associate Director of the Mental Retardation Research Center. 
A heartfelt thanks to Drs. Marie-Françoise Chesselet and David Glanzman for their outstanding leadership and service. Their contributions to the BRI and the Interdepartmental Ph.D. Program for Neuroscience have been of incalculable value in our ongoing efforts to facilitate and build upon the excellence of the UCLA neuroscience community in research, teaching, and service. 


Mara Cordeiro is the recipient of the Brain Research Interactive Young Investigator Award from the editors of Brain Research and Elsevier Science. Mara is a postgraduate researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Joy Umbach in the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology. This prestigious award is one of only four such awards for 2002!

Gary W. Small, the Parlow-Solomon Professor on Aging at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA has been named by Scientific American magazine as “Scientific American 50”-the magazine’s first “celebration of visionaries from the worlds of research, industry and politics.” UCLA and UC Berkeley, each with two professors were the only two universities in the country to have more than one professor honored. James R. Heath (UCLA) was selected along with three colleagues at HP Labs, for inventing “self-assembling nanotechnology devices that might eventually surpass those etched into chips.” Director of the Center on Aging, Dr. Gary Small was named for his innovative work demonstrating the usefulness of PET scans in the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Warm congratulations to Mara Cordeiro and Gary Small!


NIEHS Announces $20 Million, Three-Center Effort to Pin-Point Environmental Triggers of Parkinson's

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a component of the National Institutes of Health, announced five-year grants totaling $20 million for three centers to conduct research on the relationship between exposures to environmental agents and subsequent Parkinson's disease. The three centers will be located at the Parkinson's Institute, in Sunnyvale, California, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia., and theUniversity of California at Los Angeles.

NIEHS Director Kenneth Olden, Ph.D., said in announcing the new funding, “Our best chance for finding successful treatments for persons suffering with Parkinson's disease is to understand more about what triggers the disease. Even better, this research may lead to ways to prevent Parkinson's disease in the first place.”

A progressive disorder characterized by muscular rigidity and tremors, slow movement and impaired balance and coordination, Parkinson's disease affects between 1 and 1.5 million people in the U.S., with 50,000 newly diagnosed cases a year.

            Recent findings suggest that Parkinson's may result from a combination of a person's exposure to harmful environmental agents and the person's inherited susceptibility. The disease is marked by the death of cells in the brain that produce and release the neurotransmitter dopamine. Current drug therapies, which attempt to replace the lost dopamine, can relieve some symptoms but do not cure or slow the disease.

The center located at: The Parkinson's Institute, Sunnyvale, California, will be directed by J. William Langston, M.D. This center will examine risks associated with pesticides and heavy metals, possible protective effects of tobacco and caffeine, the underlying mechanisms of dopamine cell death, and genetically determined susceptibility traits for Parkinson's disease.

The center at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, directed by J. Timothy Greenamyre, M.D., Ph.D., will develop new cellular and animal models to study gene-environment interactions in the development of Parkinson's disease and will focus on how pesticides interact with the proteins that package dopamine within nerves, and the cellular machinery that degrades abnormal proteins.

The center at UCLA directed by Marie-Françoise Chesselet, M.D., Ph.D., will study how variations in genes that regulate dopamine levels within neurons may play a role in the increased risk of Parkinson's disease associated with pesticides, using several model systems as well as human cells and DNA samples from two large and unique California studies of Parkinson's disease.

Dr. Olden said that the three centers will conduct their research independently but will also have the benefit of acting as a consortium, collaborating and taking advantage of each other's knowledge and expertise. He said, “We have some good clues about what environmental agents and genes may be important in Parkinson's disease. This new consortium should bring together the right mix of scientists so that these leads can be pursued quickly.”

J. William Langston, MD., founder and CEO of the Parkinson's Institute, said, “This could be the final chapter of our search for the cause of Parkinson's disease. Under the auspices and funding of NIEHS, three major research institutes will collaborate to find the environmental and genetic origins of Parkinson's. Working together we can accelerate the pace of research with a dream team of multi-disciplinary experts."

Joan Samuelson, founder of the Parkinson's Action Network, said, “The environmental link provides major clues in unraveling Parkinson's remaining mysteries. The cure will be accelerated by this tremendous commitment of funding and focused effort. That translates into less suffering for the million Americans with Parkinson's. We are filled with hope and gratitude by this endeavor.”

Deborah W. Brooks, executive director of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, said, “The NIEHS and Director Olden have designed a creative approach to targeting this exciting area of Parkinson's research. Structuring collaboration among these three strong multidisciplinary teams should surely accelerate progress in what we continue to believe is a winnable war against Parkinson's Disease.”

Congratulations to Marie Francoise Chesselet and the terrific team she has assembled--Jeff Bronstein, Nelson Freimer, Charles Glatt, David Krantz, Mike Levine, Nigel Maidment, Beate Ritz, Erik Schweitzer, and others...--for their newly funded cooperative effort to find environmental triggers of Parkinson's disease.  This new center again illustrates how crossing disciplinary and departmental boundaries can accelerate the translation of basic-science information into disease-related discovery.

UCLA Receives NIH Grant to Create First National Center for Neurovisceral Sciences and Women's Health

           The National Institutes of Health awarded UCLA $3.75 million to create a new national research center to be named the Center for Neurovisceral Sciences and Women's Health (C.N.S). The new center --the first of its kind--will study how the brain, stress and emotions impact the development of disorders that affect mainly women-including such common diseases as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and interstitial cystitis (IC). The new center will develop research programs as well as a comprehensive clinical center that will see patients. The Center will study the role of brain, stress and emotions in IBS, IC and related disorders.
The funding is through two organizations, both part of the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the Office of Research for Women's Health.
C.N.S will be the first national center in the country to explore the role of sex and gender factors in women's increased risk to develop a wide range of common, chronic disorders affecting the digestive and urologic systems. The center will bring together multidisciplinary teams from the UCLA departments of Medicine, including Digestive Diseases, Urology, Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurology, as well as the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Ohio State University. “We will explore differences in the way women respond to psychological and physical stress, and how these differences predispose them to develop common clinical disorders, such as chronic abdominal and pelvic pain syndromes,” said Dr. Emeran Mayer, principal investigator for the grant who is also UCLA Professor of Medicine, Physiology and Psychiatry and Bio-behavioral Sciences, Chair of the UCLA Center for Integrative Medicine and co- director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center. Dr. Yvette Taché, Professor of Medicine, UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases, is a world-renowned researcher on the neurobiology of stress and gastrointestinal function and is co-principal investigator of the grant. “We hope to develop a better understanding of some of the most common digestive and urological disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Interstitial Cystitis, which will help improve treatment,” added Mayer.
In addition to building a cutting edge research program on the neurobiology of stress and chronic visceral pain, the vision for the C.N.S. includes establishing a new clinical center specializing in digestive system disorders that occur mostly in women; a health outcomes research arm of the center, which will explore quality of care and evaluate patient-centered outcomes, including health-related quality of life, patient satisfaction with care, and costs in this patient population; a specialty training program for research and patient care and a pilot and feasibility study program to fund research projects.C.N.S. will receive $750,000 annually over five years from a partnership between the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the Office of Research for Women's Health (ORWH).  C.N.S has been designated a Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) -- a prestigious National Institute designation. C.N.S.researchers will study key areas including: how circuits within the brain are activated differentially under stress based on genetic factors, early life experiences and sex-related differences. Investigators will study how specific hormones released in the brain under stress may affect the immune response in the colon and urinary bladder, and what role this neuro-immune interaction plays in the development of IBS and IC. Researchers will address how stress hormones released in the brain may also influence pain perception as well as contractions of urinary bladder and colon. 
Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects 15 to 20 percent of Americans and causes discomfort in the abdomen, along with diarrhea and/or constipation. Interstitial Cystitis affects more than 700,000 Americans; 90 percent are women. Both disorders occur much more commonly in women than in men, for as-yet unknown reasons.


By Elaine Woo, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Dr. Herbert Weiner, whose pioneering research into mind-body connections contributed to the rise of psychosomatic medicine as a distinct field, died of lung cancer Tuesday, November 12, 2002,  at his Encino home. He was 81.

A psychiatrist who taught for two decades at UCLA, Weiner had an international reputation as a leading researcher in the field.

He was the author of two books, "Psychobiology and Human Disease" (1977) and "Perturbing the Organism: The Biology of Stressful Experience" (1992), and he co-wrote or edited 20 others. He also was the editor of a leading journal, Psychosomatic Medicine, for a decade ending in 1982.

"He brought a level of scientific inquiry to the field," said Dr. Michael Irwin, a professor at UCLA's Neuropsychiatric Institute. "He asked, 'How do we set up experiments to evaluate how the brain communicates with the body and how stress impacts health?' That was his stamp."

In the 1950s, Weiner investigated how psychological processes and behavior affected the development of gastric ulcers and other diseases and found that stress was a contributing factor.

He later conducted research on the effects of behavior on other illnesses, including peptic ulcers, bronchial asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

In the 1970s, Weiner was one of the first researchers to report on the behavioral effects of hydrocortisone, a drug commonly used to treat auto-immune disorders such as asthma. He also was involved in studies that contributed to the development of psychoneuroimmunology, which examines the influence of the brain on the immune system. Among the seminal studies he participated in was one showing how grieving over spouses who died of lung cancer impaired the immune systems of women.

Weiner was also known as an exceptional teacher who trained more than 120 physicians and researchers. According to Irwin, many of his students have won prestigious awards and headed the psychiatry departments of leading universities.

Born in Vienna in 1921 and raised in London, Weiner came to the United States with his family in 1939. He graduated from Harvard College in 1943 and earned his medical degree from Columbia University in 1946.

During the 1950s and '60s he was a researcher at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland., and at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. From 1969 to 1982, he headed the psychiatry department at Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y.

In 1982, he became the chief of behavioral medicine at UCLA and worked at the university's Neuropsychiatric Institute and Brain Research Institute. He retired last year.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Dora, a professor of medical humanities and history at UCLA; three sons, Tim of Mexico City, Richard of Brussels and Tony of Arlington, Mass.; seven grandchildren; and a sister, Mary Black, of Beaufort, S.C.

Dr. Wiener will be missed both personally and professionally. He was an outstanding researcher, and an active member of the Brain Research Institute for many years, heading up major BRI training grants in psychoneuroimmunology.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be sent to The Herbert Weiner Early Career Award, which supports promising young researchers, c/o the American Psychosomatic Society, 6728 Old McLean Village Drive, McLean, VA  22101-3906. Kindly included “Weiner Award” in an accompanying note.


The Joint Seminars in Neuroscience (JSN)  series will resume January 7, 2003. Mark your calendars and plan to join us every Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. in the Louis Jolyon West Auditorium (C8-183 NPI).

January 7, 2003

William M. Roberts, Ph.D.

Institute of Neuroscience, University of Oregon, Eugene

“Structure and Function of the Ribbon-Class Synapses in Hair Cells of the Frog Sacculus”

January 14, 2003

J. David Sweatt, Ph.D.

Division of Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas

“Molecular Neurobiology of Memory Formation”

January 21, 2003

Judith A Hirsch, Ph.D.

Department of Biological Sciences & the Neuroscience Graduate Program, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

“Synaptic Representation of Visual Features in the Cat’s Thalamocortical Pathway”

January 28, 2003

Stephen M. Strittmatter, M.D., Ph.D.

Vincent Coates Professor of Neurology, and Professor of Neurobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut

“Nogo Receptor in the Limitation of Axon Regeneration by Myelin”

February 4, 2003

Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D.

Genetics and Aging Research Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

“Title To Be Determined”

February 11, 2003

Gordon J. Fishell, Ph.D.

Developmental Genetics Program, Skirball Institute, New York University Medical Center, New York

“Patterning, Proliferation and Migration in the Mammalian Telencephalon”

February 18, 2003

Phyllis I. Hanson, M.D., Ph,D.

Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis

“AAA Chaperones in the Secretory Pathway”

February 25, 2003

Michael N. Shadlen, M.D., Ph.D.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, and National Primate Research Center, University of Washington, Seattle

“Banburismus and Brain: A Neural Mechanism for Making Decisions”

March 4, 2003           

Rosalind A. Segal, M.D., Ph.D.

Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts

“A Spatial View of Neurotrophin Signaling”

March 11, 2003

The Fourteenth Annual H.W. Magoun Lecture

ARTHUR P. ARNOLD, Ph.D. (Hosted by V. Reggie Edgerton)
Professor and Chair, Department of Physiological Science
The Fourteenth Annual H.W. Magoun Lecture
"What Makes a Brain Feminine or Masculine?"

The Joint Seminars in Neuroscience are sponsored by The Brain Research Institute and the Neuropsychiatric Institute; co-sponsored by the Interdepartmental Programs for Neuroscience, the Mental Retardation Research Center, and the Departments of Anesthesiology, Neurobiology, Neurology, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Psychology, Physiology, Physiological Science, Ophthalmology, and Surgery/Neurosurgery.

Category 1 Continuing Medical Education (CME). This is an activity offered by the UCLA NPI&H, a CMA-accredited provider.  Physicians attending this course may report up to 1 hour of Category 1 credit per course toward the CMA’s Certificate in Continuing Medical Education and the AMA’s Physician’s Recognition Award.


The Center for Gene Environment Studies in Parkinson Disease (CGEP)
The Center for Gene Environment Studies in Parkinson Disease (CGEP) at UCLA invites applications for pilot grants to foster innovative research in Parkinson’s disease. Three, one year awards, of a maximum of $25,000 for one year will be made. Applications will be reviewed by two anonymous reviewers, and funding decisions will be made by the CGEP Steering Committee. Preference will be given to studies that address issues directly relevant to the mechanisms by which environmental toxins, in particular pesticides, and genetic alterations, in particular those leading to alterations in dopamine homeostasis and/or proteasomal function, may increase the risk of Parkinson disease. Applications from junior investigators and from investigators new to the field of Parkinson’s disease are particularly encouraged. Award recipients will be invited to join regular meetings of CGEP investigators to foster future collaborations. Applications should consist of a two pages description of the research project, a budget not to exceed $25,000, and a NIH format biosketch for the principal investigator. Request of funds for equipment is not allowed. Applications should be send electronically as a word document in a single file to Marie-Françoise Chesselet, MD, Ph.D., Center Director at by January 21, 2003. Please direct all inquiries to Dr Chesselet at the above address. 

The Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation, a funding source for cancer research, is currently accepting applications for innovative grants for translational research in ovarian, uterine, breast, or cervical cancer. The foundation will offer at least five grants. The awards will be up to $100,000 each (combined direct and indirect costs). If indirect costs are requested, they cannot exceed 15%. The grant is for two years. All grants will be reviewed by a Research Review Committee.composed of noted members of the American medical and scientific community. Please forward your nominations and direct any inquiries to Ms. Rosely Encarnacion, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Dean's Office, Phone: (310) 206-8454; Fax: (310) 267-0271 E-mail: Deadline for nominations is February 3, 2003.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company is announcing their annual award to a scientist making an outstanding contribution to infectious diseases research. The award is for $50,000. Criteria for evaluating nominees and selecting the recipients are solely determined by the selection Committee. This is a limited submission (UCLA is only allowed to submit one candidate). For further information, visit their website Please forward your nominations and direct any inquiries to Ms. Rosely Encarnacion, School of Medicine, Dean's Office, Phone: (310) 206-8454; Fax: (310) 267-0271 Deadline for nominations is February 28, 2003.


Carol Moss Spivak Cell Imaging Facility

Confocal Microscopy

For information, contact: 

Dr. Matt Schibler X59783


Electron Microscopy and Specimen Preparation

For information, contact:

Brigitta Sjostrand X68054


Microscopic Techniques and Histological Preparation

For information, contact:

Sharon Sampogna X59848


Other Cores:

Pasarow Mass Spectrometry Laboratory

For information, contact:

Dr. Kym Faull X67881




Postmortem Human Frozen Brain Tissue and Matched Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) and Blood are Available for Scientists to Search for Etiopathogeneses of Human Disease.

The National Neurological Research Specimen Bank and the Multiple Sclerosis Human Neurospecimen Bank, located at VA West Los Angeles Healthcare Center, maintains a collection  of quick frozen and formalin fixed postmortem human brain tissue and frozen cerebrospinal  fluid (CSF) from patients with neurological diseases (including Alzheimer's Disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, depressive disorder/suicide, epilepsy, Huntington's disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, schizophrenia, stroke/CVA  and other less common diseases). Full inventory is available upon request.  Diagnoses are documented by clinical medical records and gross/microscopic neuropathology.

Special features of the Bank are as follows:

1).  Serial digital images of coronal sections (7 mm thick and obtained before quick freezing) are available for selecting samples to be studied.

2).  Microscopic neuropathology is available on each dissected sample and the dissected sample's localization is sketched on the gross coronal section image from which it came.

3).  Plaques of demyelination are classified as active, chronic active or inactive, and a shipment includes adjacent normal appearing white and nearby gray matter from the same case (they serve as a type of control).

4).  Ice artifact is minimized and it does not interfere with in situ hybridization or in situPCR or immunocytochemistry.

5).  Tissue samples have been used for harvesting enough mRNA for microarray assay plates.

6).  CSF cells and cell-free CSF are available pre- and postmortem as is serum, plasma and buffy coats.  They are stored quick frozen (full inventory is available upon request).

The Bank is supported by NIH (NINCDS/NIMH), the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles Healthcare Center.

For further information on tissues/CSF available and how to access them, contact:

Wallace W. Tourtellotte, M.D., Ph.D.

Neurology Research (127A)

VA West Los Angeles Healthcare Center

11301 Wilshire Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90073

(310) 268_4638; fax: (310) 268_4638


web site:


The Neuropathology Laboratory at UCLA Medical Center maintains a bank of frozen, formalin and paraformaldehyde-fixed and paraffin-embedded postmortem human brain tissues and frozen cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from patients who die with Alzheimer's disease and other dementing and degenerative illnesses (including progressive supranuclear palsy, Parkinson's disease, fronto-temporal dementia), as well as control materials removed in a similar fashion from patients who are neurologically normal.  Tissues are maintained as part of the NIA-funded Neuropathology Core functions of the UCLA Alzheimer's Disease Center. These tissues/fluids are available as a resource to investigators in any discipline.  Pilot studies using the tissues/CSF to examine biomolecules that are of known importance in animal models and suspected significance in human neurodegenerative conditions are particularly encouraged. Every attempt will be made to provide research materials for worthwhile projects in a timely fashion.  For further information on tissues/CSF available and how to access them, contact:

Dr. Harry Vinters

Section of Neuropathology

UCLA Medical Center, CHS 18-170

Los Angeles, CA  90095-1732

Phone: 310-825-6191; Fax: 310-206-8290



Postdoctoral Positions

UCLA Brain Injury Research Center, Postdoctoral Fellow, Electrophysiology

A position is available for a postdoctoral candidate with electrophysiology experience interested in investigating alterations in excitatory neurotransmission and consequent impairment of neuroplasticity following traumatic brain injury. The laboratory has demonstrated molecular and anatomic changes in excitatory pathways post-injury at different stages of development.  Using electrophysiologic techniques, the fellow would be responsible for conducting studies demonstrating altered function and plasticity in these circuits.  The ideal candidate would have significant experience with slice physiology, field recordings and whole-cell patch clamping. A background in developmental neuroscience or brain injury models is a plus, as is experience in calcium imaging. Investigators: Christopher C. Giza, M.D., Igor Spigelman, Ph.D. To apply send a letter, C.V., with description of research experience and interests, and names of 3 references to: Dr. Christopher C. Giza, Attention: G.G. Heintz, Division of Neurosurgery, Campus Mail Code 703919, UCLA,  Los Angeles, CA  90095. E-mail:

Postdoctoral Positions in Ion Channel Biology at UCLA

A postdoctoral position is available immediately to study ion channel biogenesis, quality control, and trafficking.  Trafficking of ion channels in cardiac myocytes and lymphocytes is of particular interest in this project.  Methodology will include cell biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and electrophysiology.  Prior experience in at least one of these areas is strongly preferred.

A postdoctoral position is available immediately to study the structural basis of voltage-dependent activation in ion channels.  Structural interactions between the voltage sensor and pore domain will be identified using electrophysiological, biochemical, optical, and molecular biological approaches.  Patch clamp experience strongly preferred.

Please forward CV and the names of three references to: Diane M. Papazian, Ph.D., Professor and Executive Vice Chair, Department of Physiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles CA 90095-1751. Telephone:  (310) 206-7043; Fax:  (310) 206-5661; and/or visit their website at:

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Brain Imaging of Substance Abuse

The Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA invites applicants to join a multidisciplinary research team using PET in studies of brain function related to drug abuse.  The position (for 2-3 years) is available immediately and will focus on development and execution of studies on interactions of drugs of abuse with brain systems in rodent and nonhuman primate models.  This position offers a rich academic environment and state-of-the-art equipment, including a MicroPET scanner.  Candidates should have doctoral training in pharmacology, neuroscience, or experimental psychology.  Experience in animal research is required.  Knowledge of neuroanatomy, strong computer skills, and prior publications would be helpful. Contact Dr. Edythe D. London, Ph.D., Neuropsychiatric Institute, UCLA,UCLA-NPI Box 60 C8-532, 760 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90024; Campus Mail Code: 175919; Telephone:310-825-0606 (voice);  310-825-0812 (FAX); E-mail:

Postdoctoral Positions in the Division of Molecular Medicine, Department. of Anesthesiology, UCLA

Positions are available to study cell biology and hormonal regulation of ion channels and signaling pathways in smooth muscle and heart cells during pregnancy and aging. The laboratory has a strong program funded by three NIH grants and uses a multidisciplinary approach involving microarray analysis, molecular biology, biochemistry, immunocytochemistry, electrophysiology and high resolution confocal microscopy. Please visit departmental website

Applicants with biochemistry and cell biology background preferred. Send CV and three references to Dr. Enrico Stefani/Ligia Toro, UCLA, Div. of Molecular Medicine, Dept. of Anesthesiology, Box 957115, Los Angeles, CA 90095-7115. E-mail: UCLA is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

NIH-Funded Postdoctoral Position--Mechanisms of Neural Repair in the Brain and Spinal Cord

A postdoctoral position is available to study mechanisms of neural repair in the brain and spinal cord. Projects centered on neurotrophic factors are being pursued, involving molecular, cellular, and behavioral approaches.  The paradigm is that trophic factors can be induced by the practice of select behaviors. Productive experience in molecular biology or biochemistry is desired. The successful candidate will become part of a major collaborative effort between basic and clinical neuroscientists to develop new approaches to repair the brain and spinal cord. Send resume to: F. Gómez-Pinilla, Ph.D., Dept. of Physiological Science., 621 Charles E. Young Dr., UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1527, E-mail:


Neuroscience News serves as the primary vehicle for disseminating information to the UCLA neuroscience community. It is published solely on the Brain Research Institute’s web site and distributed to the BRI Calendar E-mail list. Please submit all information to the BRI editorial office, E-mail, or call extension 56055 or 55061.

Editor: Linda Maninger