Neuroscience News Fall 2004

Published by the UCLA Brain Research Institute
Fall, 2004
Volume 13, No. 3

Table of Contents



    Maya Aizenman graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts degree in cognitive science with a neuroscience emphasis. She is interested in researching dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, in particular the long-term biological and cognitive effects of stress hormones on the brain.

    Surendra Ambegaokar received a B.A. degree in molecular and cell biology, and film studies from UC Berkeley. His current research interests focus on sensory and pathological effects on synaptic plasticity, and circuit encoding for different mechanisms of sensation and learning.
    Jesse Cushman graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in interdisciplinary neurobiology from the University of Florida. He is interested in neuroimmunology, learning and memory.
    Lara Foland graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychobiology. Lara is interested in psychopathology, functional and structural neuroimaging, and hemispheric specialization.

    Tim Indersmitten received a Master’s degree in psychology (neuro- and rehabilitation psychology) from the University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands. His research interests include learning, synaptic plasticity, and schizophrenia.

    Linslee Luke received a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology, and also completed two years of graduate training in the neuroscience program at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests include neurorepair, neuroplasticity, neurodegenerative diseases, sleep and sleep disorders. 

    Veena Narayan earned a Bachelor of Science degree in cognitive science from the University of California, San Diego. Her research studies utilize fMRI as a tool to study learning and perception in humans.

    Doris Payer graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor with a Bachelor of Science degree in biopsychology and cognitive science. She also completed two years of graduate study at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, with a Master’s degree in psychology forthcoming. Doris’s research interests focus on learning and memory, higher cognitive processes and their modulation by drugs, and imaging.

    Carrie Shilyansky received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the California Institute of Technology. Carrie is a student in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). Carrie is interested in understanding the neurobiological basis of mental illness and using a multidisciplinary approach to examine plasticity in neurotransmitter systems critically implicated in a broad range of mental illnesses. 

    Jason Tarpley graduated from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. Prior to being accepted to the MSTP at UCLA, Jason worked for Merck Pharmaceuticals conducting neuropathic pain research. Jason’s area of research interest is learning and memory.

    The Brain Research Institute welcomes these new students to the Interdepartmental Graduate Program for Neuroscience.


    The Brain Research Institute welcomes its newest members, Dr. Geroge Bartzokis, Professor of Neurology, Dr. Nancy Sicotte, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Dr. Ronald Stevens, Professor of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics, Dr. J. Pablo Villablanca, Associate Professor of Radiological Sciences, and Chief of Neuroradiology, Dr. Julian Whitelegge, Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, and Dr. Hong Wu, Associate Professor of Molecular & Medical Pharmacology.

    George Bartzokis received an M.D. degree from Yale University in 1983. He completed an internship at the UCLA/West Los Angeles V.A. Medical Center, and a residency in psychiatry at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. In 1987, Dr. Bartzokis joined the UCLA Department of Psychiatry as an Assistant Clinical Professor while also completing a schizophrenia research fellowship in the UCLA Department of Psychology, and serving as a Staff Psychiatrist at the West Los Angeles V.A. Medical Center. In 1989, he was the recipient of a Career Development Award from the Department of Veterans Affairs Research Service at the West Los Angeles V.A. Medical Center, and for two years served as an Associate Investigator. In 1998, Dr. Bartzokis moved to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock as an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Director of the Office of Psychopharmaceutical Trials. During this time, he was also the Associate Chief of Staff for mental health at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System. Dr. Bartzokis returned to UCLA in 2001, joining the Department of Neurology where he is currently Director of the UCLA Memory Disorders and Alzheimer’s Disease Clinic, Director of the Clinical Core at the UCLA Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, Professor of Neurology, and faculty in the Laboratory of Neuroimaging, Division of Brain Mapping. Dr. Bartzokis also hold a concurrent appointment as professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles. 

    Dr. Bartzokis has a long-standing interest in the use of brain imaging and particularly MRI in understanding the processes underlying human brain development and degeneration. “My work is focused on understanding the relationship of these processes with the non-random manifestation of neuropsychiatric diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, and addictions. I have conducted brain imaging studies investigating the role brain iron deposits in aging and age-related neurodegenerative disorders, and the relationship between brain structure and function with a special focus on the process of myelination and age-related myelin breakdown. The application of imaging technology to the process of medication development for neuropsychiatric disorders remains the overarching goal of my research.”

    Nancy Sicotte received an M.D. degree from the University of California, Irvine in 1992. She then completed an internship in the Department of Medicine, and a residency in the Department of Neurology at UCLA. For the next three years, Dr. Sicotte was a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Brain Mapping and a clinical instructor in neurology. In 1999, Dr. Sicotte was appointed Assistant Professor of Neurology at UCLA.

    Dr. Sicotte’s research focuses on neuroimaging, multiple sclerosis, presurgical mapping and genetic disorders of brain development. “I completed my neurology residency here at UCLA, followed by a fellowship in neuroimaging under the direction of Roger Woods, John Mazziotta and Arthur Toga. My research interest is the application of structural and functional imaging techniques to study neurological disorders. My work focuses primarily on multiple sclerosis (MS). I am involved in several funded projects of novel therapies for MS including a t cell vaccine study in collaboration with USC and hormone therapy trials (estriol and testosterone) here at UCLA. In addition, I am the recipient of the Harry Weaver junior faculty fellowship of the National MS Society. The goal of this project is to identify the earliest and best imaging marker of future disease worsening in MS with longitudinal studies of patients at high-risk for progression. Other ongoing projects include presurgical mapping of motor function in neurosurgical patients with tumors and vascular malformations. We are using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in these patients to characterize the effect of mass lesions on underlying white matter pathways and functional imaging results. Finally, I have a new collaboration with Joanna Jen to use DTI and fMRI to study patients with a rare genetic disorder that causes abnormal brainstem development, horizontal gaze palsy with progressive scoliosis (HGPPS). Her identification of the gene causing this disorder was a recent cover article in Science.”

    Ronald Stevens received a Ph.D. degree in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from Harvard University in 1971. He joined UCLA in 1974, and is currently a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Professor of Education, and Director of the technology based Interactive Multi Media Exercises (IMMEX) problem solving project.
    The educational software tools developed by the IMMEX project have received multiple research and corporate awards including the New Researcher Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges (1992), a Masters of Innovation award from Zenith Corporation (1992), a nomination from the Computerworld-Smithsonian Institute's "A Search For New Hero's" competition (1994) and an award of excellence from the 2001 Minnesota Learning Software Design Competition. 

    “From a research and assessment perspective the IMMEX Project has focused on developing tools to extract meaningful cognitive behaviors from sequences of student actions within simulations. The rationale extends from the observation that while much of human thinking and reasoning appears to occur in parallel, most intentional human acts are sequential; a decision is made, a hypothesis is modified, a problem is solved, etc. Sequences of intentional acts should, therefore contain evidence of human cognition, and the challenge becomes finding the natural cognitive structure(s) and behaviors inherent in these streams of intentional actions. As students navigate IMMEX problem spaces, the software captures sequences of their actions allowing real-time display of their performance as well as that of the class. This data can reconstruct the problem-solving episode in the form of graphical traces of their search, or can be used as input to advanced artificial intelligence techniques to classify the performance or to derive a measure of progress across the cases.

    “We have found that strategic learning trajectories can be modeled with stochastic state transition paradigms, which are consistent with theories of the development of expertise, and that these learning pathways differ across student ability, classrooms; and gender. We have also found that students rapidly develop preferential strategies for approaching and solving science problems, and that the strategies chosen can persist long term (> 4 months). Finally, given the probabilistic nature of our modeling, we can predict, with a high degree of accuracy (75-80%), which students will use which strategy in the future, paving the way for targeted educational interventions when needed.

    “The IMMEX Project creates simulations and conducts research for grade levels from the middle school through the medical school, with a recent emphasis on substance abuse. It supports a large community outreach program with over 30,000 new student users in the last 12 months.”
    Dr. Stevens has served on multiple national committees/panels related to the use of technology for education and assessment, is a member of the Center for Research, Evaluation Students Standards and Testing (CRESST), and a member of the board of Bioquest Inc. He also serves as a member of the University of California, Office of the President's Committee on Outreach and Technology and also a member of the education committee of the American Association of Immunologists. In September 2000 IMMEX was one of twelve educational technology projects invited to participate in Secretary Riley’s Conference on Educational Technology in Washington D.C. 

    J. Pablo Villablanca received an M.D. degree from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis in 1989. He then moved to Los Angeles to complete an internship in internal medicine, a residency in diagnostic radiology, and a postdoctoral fellowship in neuroradiology at UCLA. In 1996, Dr. Villablanca was appointed as Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiological Sciences. He is currently the Director of the UCLA Clinical Imagine Processing Service, Director of the UCLA Neuroradiology Fellowship Program, UCLA Medical Director of MRI, Chief of the Neuroradiology Section and Associate Professor of Radiological Sciences. 

    Dr. Villablanca is currently involved in a number of research projects. “A Frontiers of Science Award, ‘Symptomatic and Asymptomatic Cartoid Stenosis: Plaque Characterization Using Helical CT Angiography With Histopatholigic Correlation’ aims to determine if non-invasive helical CT can be used to predict stroke risk in patients with carotid stenosis independent of stenosis severity through characterization of plaque composition. A National Institute of Health (NIH) award, ‘Neuroendocrine Dysfunction and Traumatic Brain Injury,’ uses quantitative MR to identify imaging correlates of pituitary injury predictive of long- and short-term pituitary dysfunction. NIH award, ‘Field Administration of Stroke Therapy – Phase III Magnesium Trial,’ is a multi-center trial (70 hospitals, 1270 patients) to determine if field administered magnesium can provide neuro-protection in the acute patient. NIH award, ‘Controlled Reperfusion For Whole Body Ischemic Injury,’ uses MR to demonstrate reversible cerebral ischemic following global hypothermic circulatory arrest treated with various reperfusates. Lastly, in an NIH Program Project award, ‘UCLA SPOTRIAS Center Application’ we aim to develop a specialized program of translational research in acute stroke patients and to develop innovative therapies for acute ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke patients.”

    Julian Whitelegge received a Ph.D. in 1989 from the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of London, United Kingdom, with a thesis titled, “The Role of Protein Phosphorylation in Photosynthetic Light Acclimation.” He then moved to the United States to join the UCLA Department of Biology as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professor J.M. Erickson. Collaborative studies with Dr. Bruce Diner at DuPont investigated Manganese binding to reaction-center proteins associated with Photosystem II via site-directed mutagenesis. From 1993 to 2001, Dr. Whitelegge was an instructor, demonstrator, and lecturer in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at UCLA, with full responsibility for development, demonstration, instruction and examination in advanced upper division chemistry courses. Concurrently from 1995 to 2002, Dr. Whitelegge was an Associate Research Biochemist in the Pasarow Mass Spectrometry Laboratory at UCLA working with Director Kym Faull to apply mass spectrometry to studies of intrinsic membrane proteins. In 2002, Dr. Whitelegge was appointed Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, and is working to apply mass spectrometry and proteomics to studies of integral membrane proteins and numerous biological problems.

    Julian Whitelegge “seeks to understand the way post-translational modifications to proteins influence short-term plasticity and longer-term development, maturation and senescence of the brain and other living tissues.” Dr. Whitelegge has pioneered the identification of proteins involved in cellular aggregation processes underlying neurological disorders and was one of the first to specifically consider the role of protein oxidation in the onset and progression of neurodegenerative disease. He is currently applying proteomics technologies to study the role of protein aggregation in Amyotrophic Lateral Schlerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).”

    Hong Wu received an M.D. degree from Beijing Medical College, China, in 1983. She continued her studies and earned a Ph.D. degree from the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1991. From 1991 to 1996, Dr. Wu completed postdoctoral research at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. Moving to California in 1996, Dr. Wu joined UCLA as an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology, and Molecular & Medical Pharmacology. Dr. Wu is currently an Assistant Investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Associate Professor of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology.

    Dr. Wu’s research focuses on neuronal stem cells and tumorigenesis. “The major focus of our research is to study the molecular mechanism of PTEN controlled tumorigenesis. PTEN is the second most frequently deleted human tumor suppressor gene. PTEN mutation was also found to be the cause of three autosomal dominant tumor predisposition syndromes. To study PTEN’s biological functions, we have undertaken a combination of molecular genetics, cell biology, and biochemical approaches. By analyzing isogenic cells lines either wild type or lacking the PTEN tumor suppressor, we demonstrated that PTEN negatively regulates three important cellular processes: cell proliferation, cell survival, and cell adhesion/migration (Sun et al. PNAS 1999 96:6177-6204; Liliental et al. Current Biology 2000 10:401-404; Stiles et al., MCB 2002 22:3842-3851). By generating PTEN deficient animal models, we elucidated the important role of PTEN in regulating stem cell self-renewal, proliferation, and survival (Groszer et al. 2001 Science 294:2186-2189). Thus, our study provides a strong link between stem cell biology and cancer biology, and suggests that tumors may originate through the transformation of stem cells. The significance and impact of this study were discussed by Josef Penninger and James Woodgett in Science Perspectives, and by Sean Morrison in “News and Views” in Nature Medicine. We also established various animal models for human cancers, including mammary (Li et al., 2002 Development 129:4159-4170) and prostate cancer models (Wang et al., 2003 Cancer Cell 4:209-221). These murine cancer models offer unique tools for both exploring the molecular mechanism underlying human cancers and for the development of new therapies. Our recent study further demonstrated that PTEN controls p53 protein level and transcription activity, which provides a novel mechanism by which the loss of PTEN can functionally control ‘two’ hits in the course of tumor development by concurrently modulating p53 activity (Freeman et al., 2003 Cancer Cell 3:117-129).”

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


    We are saddened by the death of our friend and colleague W. Ross Adey. The UCLA neuroscience community, friends and family of Ross Adey gathered to celebrate his remarkable life on September 21, 2004. Dr. Asher Sheppard who was a close colleague and friend of Dr. Adey’s for many years wrote the following obituary.

    W. Ross Adey
    1922 – 2004

    As a youth in the Adelaide, Australia, of his birth, William Ross Adey, known universally to his many friends and colleagues as “Ross,” had the advantages of supportive parents and the freedom to indulge the natural instincts of youth at the seashore, observing marine life in tidal pools, reading books, and building radios in the family basement. A precocious child, he graduated from high school at age 14, and by 21 had received degrees in medicine (M.B.) and surgery (B.S.) from the University of Adelaide.

    Recalling his early years in a June 2002 interview, Adey said, “I was absolutely fascinated by radio. I started building crystal sets as most kids did at that age. It grew beyond that, and by the time I was 13 and 14, I had built quite a number of very large vacuum tube sets, valves as we called them. I got an amateur radio license when I was 17 years old.” Throughout his life, radio framed his professional and social activities far more than any ordinary hobby.
    After his first clinical position at Royal Adelaide Hospital in 1944, he soon was aboard the cruiser Shropshire as a Surgeon Lieutenant in the Royal Australian Navy (1945–1946), where he first encountered the new technology of radar. Years later, Adey reminisced, “In rough seas on cold nights, we would go into the radar hut and warm ourselves with the stray emissions that drove the radar antennas.”

    His first publication, based on research conducted for his M.D. degree (1949, the University of Adelaide) was an electromyographic study of a type of chronic myopathy. The blending of electronics and scientific research that would mark his career gave other early fruit with construction of the first Australian six-channel recorder of brain electrical signals, which was put to use for clinical research on epileptic children and for laboratory studies. His second publication, on the motor mechanisms in the brain of anurans, was followed by a stream of neuranatomical studies in species ranging from earthworms to Australian marsupials and monkeys.
    Upon receiving the prestigious Nuffield Foundation Fellowship in Medicine in 1950, Adey traveled to the University of Oxford for postgraduate research on limbic system structural anatomy and its pathways to the diencephalon. The return trip from England to Adelaide included a stopover in Los Angeles, which led, three years later, to the start of a 23-year-long association with UCLA Medical School, where he was Professor of Anatomy and Physiology for 20 years. Even today, former students, now senior practitioners and researchers, reflect with awe on the clarity and comprehension evident in Adey’s lectures in neuroanatomy. His lectures showed mastery of neuroanatomical detail and complexity, neuroembryology, and higher brain functions—all securely held in memory and delivered in sculpted flowing prose.
    Adey and his colleagues at UCLA and the UCLA Brain Research Institute made pioneering advances in the neuroanatomy of the limbic system and its behavioral and pathological correlates, measurements of the electrical properties of brain tissue, spectral analysis of EEG, and the mechanisms of memory.

    Driven by the need to obtain the physiological knowledge required to fulfill President Kennedy’s commitment to put a man on the moon in the 1960s, Adey, as Director of the Space Biology Laboratory (1961 to 1974) at the UCLA Brain Research Institute, conducted animal and human research. His laboratory developed the technology for biotelemetry from space that allowed EEG recordings from astronauts Lovell and Borman showing the effects of weightlessness on brain function.

    Driven by the idea that higher brain functions needed a distributed information system that might be carried by the brain’s own electrical activity, Adey and colleagues at the UCLA Laboratory of Environmental Neurobiology, including Suzanne Bawin, and Rochelle Gavalas-Medici, began to study whether it might be possible to use modulated radio- frequency fields as a means to probe brain function. In his 2002 interview, Adey recalled the question that led to the first studies with amplitude-modulated radio-frequency fields. “If we made a radio signal look like a brain wave, would it influence behavior? We showed in cats very clearly, and monkeys to some extent, that you could make the brain wave pattern follow the modulation on the radio signal.” 
    Drawing on the nonthermal nature of behavioral, in vivo, and in vitro studies on the nervous system that sprang from his laboratory, Adey took his quest beyond the fabric of chemical reactions to delve into the physical organization of biological tissue that could underpin responses to very low energy levels. In this phase, conducted over a period of more than 25 years at the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center (Loma Linda, California), Loma Linda University, and the University of California, Riverside, he and his colleagues addressed the effects of extremely low frequency electric and magnetic fields, and radio waves of the type used for mobile telephony. Forward-looking and excited by science until his last days, he took delight in the recent discovery by European researchers of tunneling nanotubules because they made manifest at the ultrastructural level further evidence for a general physical plan for varieties of intercellular communication.

    Adey wrote, spoke, and argued forcefully for a thorough and fair examination of public health questions that he saw conjoined with a nascent understanding of profound questions in biophysics and cell biology. In pursuit of the latter, he was determined that society not be swayed by simplistic, and even worse, politically motivated ideas, in place of accurate and complete scientific knowledge. No one who saw him in action will forget the vigor of his speech and the sting of his polemics.

    Those who had the good fortune to be among his collaborators were struck by his depth of perception, breadth of knowledge, trust in the scientific method, inexhaustible energy, patient attention to detail, and prodigious memory. 

    Adey’s numerous friends worldwide knew of his affection and fierce devotion to each of them; his gentlemanly grace and refined manners; his ire when provoked; his patient and deep caring for them and their family members; his love of Shakespeare—quoted fully and precisely, should the occasion arise; his love of the mountains for both wintertime skiing and summertime hiking; his pride in an accomplished family now with a seventh generation training in medicine and science; and for the numerous times he carried his tall, gaunt, frame 26 miles and 385 yards to the finish line, even into his late seventies.


    Vicente Honrubia, professor emeritus of head and neck surgery and director of the Victor Goodhill Ear Center at the David Geffen School of Medicine, was honored with the 2004 George E. Shambaugh Prize /in Otology for his scientific contributions enhancing the understanding of the auditory system and its disorders.


    The Joint Seminars in Neuroscience series will resume Winter quarter, beginning January 11, 2005. A number of outstanding speakers are lined up so mark your calendars and plan to join us every Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. in the Louis Jolyon West Auditorium (C8-183 NPI).


    Winter 2005

    January 11, 2005 
    LARRY YOUNG, Ph.D. (Hosted by Mark Barad)
    Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 
    “Molecular Basis of Social Bonding”

    January 18, 2005 
    VENKATESH MURTHY, Ph.D. (Hosted by Felix Schweizer)
    Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 
    “Single Neuron Perturbations and Synaptic Plasticity”

    January 25, 2005 
    MICHAEL SOFRONIEW, M.D., Ph.D. (Hosted by Harley Kornblum)
    Department of Neurobiology, and the Brain Research Institute, UCLA
    “Adult Neural Stem Cells: Transgenic Analysis of Identity, Function and Potential”

    February 1, 2005 
    MARIE BURNS, Ph.D. (Hosted by Felix Schweizer)
    Center for Neuroscience, University of California, Davis 
    “Regulation of G Protein Activity in Intact Cells: Lessons from Photoreceptors”

    February 8, 2005 
    RICHARD KRAMER, Ph.D. (Hosted by Tom Otis)
    Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley 
    “New Approaches to Measuring and Manipulating Synapses and Ion Channels in the Retina and Beyond”

    February 15, 2005 
    CARLOS BRODY, Ph.D. (Hosted by Tad Blair)
    Department of Neuroscience, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York
    “Combining Working Memory and Decision-Making in a Simple Model of Two-Stimulus-Interval Discrimination”

    February 22, 2005 2005 
    Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in Neuroscience Lecture 
    SHEILA FLEMING, Ph.D. (Hosted by Felix Schweizer)
    Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Neurology, UCLA
    “Behavioral Phenotyping of Genetic Mouse Models of Parkinson's Disease”

    March 1, 2005 
    KRISTEN HARRIS, Ph.D. (Hosted by Kelsey Martin)
    Synapses and Cognitive Neuroscience Center, Professor of Neurology, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta
    “Dendritic Spine Changes During Hebbian (LTP) and Homeostatic Synaptic Plasticity”

    March 8, 2005 
    DAVID FITZPATRICK, Ph.D. (Hosted by Dario Ringach)
    Department of Neurobiology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
    “Columns, Connections, and Representations: A New Look at the Functional Architecture of Primary Visual Cortex”

    March 15, 2005 
    The Brain Research Institute 16th Annual H.W. Magoun Lecture
    Jack L. Feldman, Ph.D. (Hosted by Chris Evans)
    Distinguished Professor of Neurobiology, The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
    “A Lifetime of Breathing”

    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.


    Postdoctoral Fellowship in Photoreceptor Biochemisty

    A research fellowship is available to study the visual cycle in vertebrate retinas. The broad goals of this project are to clone the mRNA’s and genes for enzymes involved in the processing of visual retinoids, to generate mice with a knockout mutation in each gene, and to study the function of the encoded proteins by analyzing the visual phenotypes in the knockout mice. The applicant will join a dynamic research group interested in basic mechanisms of vision and inherited retinal diseases. For more information visit the website: Requirements include a Ph.D. in biochemistry or a related field. Send CV and the names of three references to: Dr. Gabriel H. Travis, email:

    The FPR-UCLA Center for Culture, Brain & Development (CBD) will be awarding two pre-doctoral fellowships for training in theory and methods integrating research on development, brain function, and cultural processes. CBD fosters training and research on how these three systems affect and depend on each other in normal or pathological conditions. The training programs consist of cross-disciplinary research collaboration or mentoring, attendance at the Forum on Culture, Brain, and Development, and participating in the integrative seminar on Culture, Brain, and Development. 

    The CBD pre-doctoral fellowship typically covers stipend, fees and, if necessary, non-resident tuition for the second year (2006-2007) of graduate study, along with a dissertation year fellowship for the final year of graduate training. Support for the other years must be provided by the fellow’s home department (some combination of fellowships and teaching assistant positions) or by an external fellowship received by the pre-doctoral fellow. Fellows are also eligible to apply for small research grants from CBD.

    Pre-doctoral Center for Culture, Brain, and Development fellowships are available to graduate students admitted to the UCLA departments and programs in anthropology, psychology, applied linguistics, education, psychiatry, and neuroscience. Applicants must apply directly to one of these programs, indicating in their statement of purpose that they would like to participate in CBD and be considered for a CBD fellowship. Pre-doctoral fellowships cannot be applied for separately, and are only awarded after a candidate is admitted to one of these UCLA departments. CBD pre-doctoral fellows must have at least two CBD faculty mentors, at least one of who must be outside their home department. 

    In addition to fulfilling the requirements for a Ph.D. in their home department, CBD pre-doctoral fellows are required to:

    1. Attain background in graduate level study of human development, of culture, and of the brain though at least one graduate courses in each of the three fields;
    2. Attend biweekly forum presentations on culture, brain, and development throughout their graduate career at UCLA;
    3. Enroll in the CBD Integrative Seminar during one quarter of their studies;
    4. Enroll in one methodology course outside their home department in one of the other two core areas;
    5. Be a teaching assistant at least one quarter in one of the core areas outside their home department.

    For additional information regarding CBD and the pre-doctoral fellowship program, please contact: 

    Kristin Martinez, Administrator 
    FPR- UCLA Center for Culture, Brain & Development 
    2285 Franz Hall 
    405 Hilgard Ave 
    Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563 
    Or consult the CBD web site:

    Also, please note that graduate students admitted to the UCLA programs in anthropology, psychology, neuroscience, applied linguistics, or education do not need to be funded by CBD in order to participate fully in the CBD training program; any graduate student in the participating departments and programs may apply to join the CBD training program, and, once admitted, is eligible to apply for the supplemental research funds.

    The Pasteur Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowships Program brings U.S. researchers to work in Institut Pasteur laboratories in Paris. The deadline for applications is February 4, 2005.
    Guidelines and instructions for applying for this fellowship can be found at:

    The UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute Interdisciplinary Training for Autism Researchers

    The M.I.N.D. Institute at the University of California-Davis is offering a postdoctoral training program to prepare Ph.D. and M.D. fellows for careers in autism research. The goal of this program is to train truly interdisciplinary autism research scientists. The M.I.N.D. Institute and UC Davis provide a unique environment for conducting postdoctoral research on aspects of autism. 

    This two-year training program merges the behavioral and biological sciences in the context of an interdisciplinary, autism-focused research program. The training program is organized around a set of core competencies that involves multiple areas of autism-related knowledge ranging from human genetics, to neuroanatomy, to clinical diagnosis. Trainees will be expected to further their own disciplinary competence, gain new competence in other disciplines germane to autism research, and gain experience in four general areas important for establishing a successful career: research ethics, research design and analysis, cultural competence and career development. Competencies will be acquired through: individual mentorship, research in ongoing interdisciplinary projects, the didactic core curriculum, and conferences, lecture series and other training opportunities. Each trainee will have a primary mentor, the faculty member with whom they directly carry out their research program, as well as a secondary mentor, who will provide a different disciplinary orientation. In cooperation with these mentors, each trainee will develop an individualized training plan and carry out autism-related research.

    More detailed information about this program is available on the Institute's web site at
    . Applications will be considered as they are received; entry into the training program can begin any time after January 1, 2005. The program is administered under Kirschstein-NRSA guidelines. For questions or additional information, please contact Dr. Laura Lacy at or 916-703-0254.

    McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience—Neuroscience of Brain Disorders Awards
    These awards support innovative efforts to solve the problems of neurological and psychiatric diseases. They encourage research aimed at translating laboratory discoveries about the brain and nervous system into diagnoses and therapies to improve human health. Collaborative projects between basic and clinical neuroscientists are welcomed, as are proposals that help link basic with clinical neuroscience. 

    The Neuroscience of Brain Disorders Awards were established in 2000 as the Memory and Brain Disorders Awards. Each year, up to six awards are given. Awards provide $100,000 per year for three years. Funds may be used toward a variety of research activities but not the recipient's salary.

    Letters of intent for 2006 awards are due in early May 2005. Information and application materials will be available in March 2005 

    The McKnight Foundation began supporting basic neuroscience research in 1977, in accordance with the wishes of its founder, William L. McKnight He was interested in diseases affecting the brain and memory, especially as a person ages. 

    In 1986, after 10 years of supporting investigators at different levels of neuroscience research, the Foundation established The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience as a permanent commitment to fundamental research in the field. In 2000, the Endowment Fund revised its awards program to take into account rapid progress in the field during the 1990s and to encourage neuroscientists, individually and in collaboration with other scientists, to explore new approaches to understanding the brain and its diseases.

    The Endowment Fund makes three types of awards each year. In addition to the Neuroscience of Brain Disorders Awards, they are the McKnight Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Awards, providing seed money to develop technical inventions to advance brain research; and the McKnight Scholar Awards, supporting neuroscientists in the early stages of their research careers.

    The Whitehall Foundation --Grants for Research in Neurobiology

    The Whitehall Foundation is accepting applications throughout the year for grants to support basic research in neurobiology, especially on how the brain's sensory, motor, and other complex functions relate to behavior. 

    Candidates eligible for these grants include tenured or tenure-track professors at accredited American institutions. 

    Deadlines for letters of intent to apply are due by January 15, April 15, and October 1; the three deadlines for applications during the year are June 1, September 1, and February 15. 
    The total amount to be awarded and number of awards is not specified, however, the amount of individual awards range from $30,000 to $75,000 each year for up to three years. 
    View the full text of the announcement on the Foundation's web site:


    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 situ PCR 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:

    Alzheimer's Disease Brain Tissue and CSF

    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


    Purdue University Tenure-Track Faculty Position

    The Department of Biological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering are currently seeking applications for a full-time tenure-track position at the associate or assistant professor level. This position is part of a comprehensive growth plan for Biomedical Sciences and Engineering at Purdue. An individual with expertise in the area of systems level neurophysiology and/or neuroengineering is preferred. Areas of interest include synaptic organization, or learning. The successful candidate will be expected to interact with faculty and students in both departments and the university-wide neuroscience group. The central criteria for this position are excellence in research and the ability to teach undergraduate and graduate students in the biomedical sciences and biomedical engineering effectively.

    Applicants must have a Ph.D. or equivalent degree to be considered at the associate professor level. The candidate should have a track record of independent extramurally funded research and excellent teaching skills. Salaries and benefits are highly competitive. Review of the applications will begin December 15, 2004.

    Applicants should send curriculum vitae, a statement of current research and teaching interests and long-range goals to Dr. Donald Ready, Chair of the Biomedical Science Search Committee, Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

    Purdue University is an Equal opportunity/Equal Access/Affirmative Action employer and is committed to building a diverse faculty of excellence.


    The BRI regularly receives letters and resumes from people looking for work in the field of neuroscience. Below is an abbreviated list of the candidates and the type of work they seek. Copies of their resumes are often available in our editorial office. If you are interested in one or more of these individuals, please contact them directly, or call x56055.

    Sergio Arroyo graduated from Stanford University with a degree in biomedical computation, an engineering program merging biology and computer science. The major was designed to give a broad foundation for the mathematical and computational analysis of biological systems. In addition, Sergio has some experience working in a bioengineering lab at Stanford attempting to model rat pulmonary systems via the computational analysis of micro CT scans (under Dr. Charles Taylor). Sergio is moving to the Los Angeles area and is looking for a research position. He can be contacted

    Natalie Boone recently graduated from Northwestern University with a Masters of Science degree in the field of neurobiology and physiology. She is currently looking for a research position in the field of electrophysiology and/or neurobiology. She would like to become an integral part of a research team investigating the characterization of the structure and function of ion channels. Some highlights of her academic achievement and employment experience include the following: 
    Outstanding Academic Record 
    B.S. degree in chemistry with concentrations in sociology and mathematics, M.S. degree in neurobiology and physiology, Master’s Thesis: Characterization of a Novel Voltage-Dependent Cation Channel in Adult Drosophila Neurons; 
    Analytical and Organizational Skills
    Employment at Baxter International Inc., allowed Ms. Boone to demonstrate her strength in scientific research in the field of insoluble drug delivery as a research associate in one of the top three research projects at Baxter worldwide. While at Baxter, Ms. Boone mastered her skills in data analysis, documentation, leadership, and organization of an analytical laboratory in compliance with ISO, OSHA, and FDA regulations.
    Scientific Skills
    Completion of a Master's thesis granted Ms. Boone the opportunity to exhibit electrophysiological skills in characterizing the function of a novel ion channel in adultDrosophila neurons. To this day, only two groups have successfully performed whole-cell voltage-clamp recordings from acutely dissociated adult Drosophila neurons.
    Communication Skills and Public Relation Skills Demonstarted skills in dealing with the general public, colleagues, and superiors. Interpersonal relations and cross-cultural communications are strong and well developed. 
    Natalie Boone can be contacted at:

    Joseph Dunsmoor graduated in May with a B.S. degree in psychology and a minor in biology from James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA He conducted research in the area of visual perception and oculomotor resting states for three semesters and presented the findings at two psychology symposiums. Course work relevent to the research at UCLA includes work in biology (physiology, cellular bio, microbio, genetics, zoology) and also biopsychology, psychopharmacology, cognitive, sensation and perception. Joseph is interested in working in an area of research that enhances understanding of the brain and how it relates to behavior. For several years he has been interested in the affects of drugs on the brain. He has studied synaptic transmission and how drugs affect particular neurotransmitters, as well as other areas of biopsychology related to neuroscience. He has been studying independently while in school and also since graduating, reading research journals and books on neuroscience. He has studied schizophrenia and antipsychotic drugs, which are also areas of interest. After graduation Joseph had planned to accept a fellowship in the neuropsychology department of NIMH as part of the intramural research program, but relocated to the west coast. He is looking for similar work to gain research training and experience prior to applying to graduate school. Joseph Dunsmoor can be reached at

    Ravi Venkatesh is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley. He has a dual Bachelor's degree in history and molecular & cell biology with a neurobiology emphasis. Ravi is taking one year off before entering medical school and would like to obtain a research position in neuroscience at UCLA. Ravi has an extensive course background in the biomedical sciences. He has taken several molecular biology lab classes and courses related to neuroscience, including a lab course in mammalian neuroanatomy. Additionally, he has work experience in both clinical and laboratory research. At Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, some of the research he conducted included psychiatry research on the relationship between obesity, diabetes, and schizophrenia, as well as, pathology research on the hyperphosphorylation of proteosome subunits in ethanol-damaged rat livers. From his research, he has learned several techniques and published three articles as a second author, and a fourth paper has just been accepted for publication. Ravi is also very skilled with computers. Ravi Venkatesh can be reached by email at


    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