Neuroscience News Fall 2006

Published by the UCLA Brain Research Institute
Fall, 2006
Volume 15, No. 3

Table of Contents



    Jaehoon Choe received a Bachelor of Arts degree in biological sciences (neuroscience) from the University of Chicago. He is interested in mapping spinal cord interneuronal activity during locomotive behavior.

    Kristen Henkins received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Pomona College with a major in neuroscience and a minor in psychology. Her studies there involved electrophysiological research examining the effects of the amyloid-beta peptide in learning and spatial memory. She hopes to continue similar research in learning, memory, and neurodegenerative disease.

    David Johnston graduated from Tufts University in Boston with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and anthropology. In the Neuroscience Interdepartmental Program, David will study synaptic plasticity and recovery from traumatic brain injury, and is currently working with Dr. Thomas O'Dell to explore the physiology related to these subjects.

    Shaheen Karim graduated from Yale University with B.S. and M.S. degrees in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, and received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School. He entered the EyeSTAR program to combine his Ph.D. studies with a residency in ophthalmology. Shaheen and his mentor, Dr. Joseph Demer, study human strabismus and the coordination of eye and head movements, using 3-dimensional search coil eye recording, high resolution MRI of the orbits, and histologic specimens.

    Sangmok Kim received a Master of Science degree in biochemistry from Kangwon National University where his studies centered on oxidative stress in skin and blood vessels. He is interested in synaptic plasticity as it relates to learning and memory, pain and drug addiction.

    Thuc Le received a Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry and mathematics from Santa Clara University where he participated in studies of the stomatogastric system of crabs, and was involved in studying the role of neuromodulators in the neuromuscular system. Thuc’s research interests focus on learning and memory.
    Gretchen Miller received a Bachelor of Science degree in comprehensive science from Villanova University and a Master of Science degree in forensic science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She has been involved in studying mouse models of addiction and schizophrenia at Columbia University yet hopes to pursue research interests in brain trauma while at UCLA.

    Tara Murphy graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry from SUNY Stony Brook, and earned a Master’s degree in biotechnology, concentrating on bioinformatics, from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research in the laboratory of Dr. William Yang focuses on the pathogenesis of Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease using transgenic mouse models.

    Chang (Chris) Park received a Bachelor of Arts degree in neuroscience from Pomona College. His research interests are the molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity and neurodegenerative diseases.

    Liz Reynolds graduated from Emory University with a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience and anthropology. She spent the last year at UC Davis using functional MRI to compare the language function of people with Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome and typically developing participants. Liz's current research interests lie in the field of human social neuroscience. As a student in the Neuroscience IDP and a trainee in the Center for Culture, Brain and Development, she hopes to utilize her background in functional neuroimaging and anthropology to explore how cultural experience affects basic cognitive processes.

    Ezra Rosen majored in computer science and electrical engineering, and graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Engineering degree. Ezra’s research interests include neurodegenerative diseases, computational biology, and genomics. His mentor is Dr. Daniel Geschwind.

    Kellen Winden graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from UCSD majoring in neuroscience with a minor in Spanish literature. As a student in the MSTP program, he is working with Dr. Daniel Geschwind studying functional genomics in learning and memory.

    Ghiam Yamin received a Bachelor of Science degree in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is interested in the study of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, as they relate to protein aggregation and deposition. He is eager to further expand and refine his investigative knowledge of this field in order to shed new light on pathological mechanisms and potential therapeutic possibilities. After graduation from the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) he would like to stay on the cusp of clinical and investigative medicine by balancing his time between research and patient care. Working in Dr. David Teplow’s laboratory, investigations aim to understand the aberrant folding of amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease.


    The Brain Research Institute welcomes its newest members, Dr. Lars Dreier, Assistant Professor of Neurobiology; Dr. Joseph Lasky, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics (Hematology/Oncology); Dr. Barbara Levey, Assistant Vice Chancellor-Biomedical Affairs, and Adjunct Professor of Medicine, and Molecular & Medical Pharmacology; Dr. Mayumi Prins, Assistant Professor of Surgery (Neurosurgery); and Dr. Robert Prins, Assistant Professor of Surgery (Neurosurgery).

    Lars Dreier received a Ph.D. degree in cell biology from Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany in 1998. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School, working in the laboratory of Dr. Tom Rapoport. In 2000, Dr. Dreier moved to the University of California, Berkeley, as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Joshua Kaplan. Dr. Dreier returned to Harvard in 2002, until joining the Department of Neurobiology at UCLA in 2006.

    Dr. Dreier’s research focuses on synapse formation and regulation of neurotransmitter receptors in C. elegans. “The formation of synapses between neurons and the regulation of signaling through these synapses is fundamental to the function of the nervous system. We are studying mechanisms of synapse formation and regulation of neurotransmitter receptors in the genetic model organism C. elegans using a combination of genetic, cell biological and biochemical techniques. We have found that the abundance of a particular neurotransmitter receptor, the C. elegans AMPA glutamate receptor GLR-1, is regulated by direct ubiquitination, and we aim to identify the corresponding ubiquitin ligase enzyme that catalyzes ubiquitination of GLR-1. So far, we have identified three putative ubiquitin ligase subunits whose loss-of-function leads to increased abundance of GLR-1 and we are characterizing their functions. We are also testing whether other synaptic proteins are regulated by ubiquitin-dependent degradation and if inhibition of ubiquitin-dependent degradation leads to accumulation of these proteins and changes in synaptic function.

    To study mechanisms involved in the positioning of synapses, we are characterizing loss-of-function mutations that disrupt the correct positioning of presynaptic sites in a subset of cholinergic motor neurons expressing pre- and postsynaptic marker proteins tagged with GFP. To identify novel proteins involved in synapse formation in these neurons, we are also using RNAi, a very fast and simple way to efficiently knock down expression of genes of interest.”

    Joseph Lasky, III, received an M.D. degree from the University of Illinois School of Medicine in 2000. He completed a residency in pediatrics at the University of Chicago Children’s Hospital, and a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at UCLA’s Children’s Hospital. In 2006, Dr. Lasky was appointed as an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Hematology/Oncology, and the Clinical Director of UCLA’s Pediatric Neuro-oncology Program.

    Dr. Lasky investigates the molecular mechanisms of, and targeted therapies for pediatric central nervous system tumors. “Pediatric brain tumors are the second most common malignancy of childhood and unfortunately are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in this age group. Current therapeutic approaches for these tumors, including surgery, radiation therapy and cytotoxic chemotherapy, lack sufficient efficacy and furthermore can cause severe cognitive side effects. I am interested in further elucidating the cellular, molecular and immunologic mechanisms underlying the development of these tumors with a particular interest in the potential role of a brain tumor ‘stem cell’ in their pathogenesis. I will be working with several other BRI researchers to help further classify and define this stem cell population, and attempt to develop targeted therapies against them. We hope that this will allow for more efficacious treatment of these devastating malignancies with less cognitive and developmental side effects in this fragile population.”

    Barbara A. Levey received a medical degree, cum laude, from the State University of New York (SUNY), Upstate Medical College in Syracuse. She interned and completed a fellowship in hematology at the Jersey City Medical Center, and a postdoctoral fellowship in clinical pharmacology at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Dr. Levey’s multi-layered career as physician, professor, and administrator, has spanned the United States, from New York to New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania, and most recently, California. Dr. Levey is assistant vice chancellor for biomedical affairs at UCLA and supports the biomedical research enterprise, reporting to the vice chancellor for research. Her administrative responsibilities include organizing and chairing of the Vivarium Research Resources Advisory Committee (VRRAC); serving as an ex-officio member of the Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee (ESCRO); and developing and updating the UCLA medical health questionnaire for occupational health. Dr. Levey developed and directs the new UCLA Interdepartmental Clinical Pharmacology Training Program (ICPTP), with the mission of improving therapeutics and research by the rigorous training of medical students and fellows in the discipline of clinical pharmacology. Housed in the Brain Research Institute, the program was funded initially with seed support from chairs of the departments of medicine, pharmacology, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, biomathematics, and anesthesiology; the chancellor's office; and the dean's office of the School of Medicine. The ICPTP is supported by the programmatic T32 Clinical Pharmacology Training Program award; the K12 UCLA Mentored Clinical Pharmacology Research Scholars Program; the PhRMA Foundation Center of Excellence award; and the K30 UCLA Graduate Training Program in Translational Investigation. The K30 program provides a clinical research curriculum that includes three tracks, one of which is administered by the departments of biomathematics and medicine and confers a master of science in clinical research. Dr. Levey has recently completed a chapter for a new textbook on human therapeutics.

    Mayumi Prins received a Ph.D. degree in neurobiology from UCLA in 1998. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Division of Neurosurgery at UCLA, and a fellowship in anatomy and cell biology at the Medical College of Virginia. In 2001, Dr. Prins returned to UCLA’s Division of Neurosurgery, and in 2002 she was appointed as the Director of the Traumatic Brain Injury Education and Prevention Program in the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center. “In September, of 2002, I designed educational brochures for children and parents to increase community awareness about the consequences of brain injury. The development of this brochure marked the creation of the UCLA Traumatic Brain Injury Education Program which has been dedicated to visiting local schools (K-12) and Parent & Teacher Associations to emphasize the dangers of traumatic brain injury and how to protect children from brain injury.”

    Dr. Prins is currently an Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Division of Neurosurgery. Her research focus is traumatic brain injury (TBI), the developing brain, and cerebral metabolism. “My research over the last 10 years has focused on pediatric traumatic brain injury. I am particularly interested in cerebral metabolism of glucose and alternative fuels following TBI in the developing brain. Currently I am examining age-related differences in cerebral transport of ketone bodies, how the presence of ketone bodies affects glucose metabolism and the neuroprotective potentials of ketones following brain injury.”

    Robert Prins received a Ph.D. degree in anatomy and immunology from the Virginia Commonwealth University/Medical College of Virginia in 2001. He completed postdoctoral fellowships in the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, and in the Division of Neurosurgery at UCLA. Following his postdoctoral training, Dr. Prins held conjunct appointments at UCLA as an assistant researcher in the division of neurosurgery, and in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics.

    Dr. Prins, currently an Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Division of Neurosurgery, investigates neuroimmunology and brain tumor immunotherapy. “I am primarily interested in the study of T lymphocyte-mediated immune surveillance for malignant brain tumors. My early studies focused on distinct immune defects that occur during experimental brain tumor progression. More recently, I have begun to apply my basic immunology experience towards developing new immunotherapeutic treatments for malignant gliomas. As such, our group focuses on trying to manipulate the immune system to target tumors arising within the brain, and then translate our findings to the treatment of patients with the same diseases.”

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


    The BRI congratulates the meritorious achievements of Drs. Lori Altshuler, Tyrone Cannon, Joaquin Fuster, and H. Tad Blair, all recipients of prizes from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), Dr. John Mazziotta, named a member in the prestigious Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Dr. Edward R.B. McCabe, new president of the American Pediatric Society, and Michael Phelps, recipient of the World Nuclear Association Award.

    Lori Altshuler, Professor of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, and the director of the Mood Disorders Research Program, was awarded the Falcone Prize for Affective Disorders Research. The Falcone Prize recognizes an outstanding scientist who is investigating the causes, pathophysiology, treatment or prevention of mood disorders. Dr. Altshuler’s research focuses on bipolar disorder, and women and depression. In her studies of the severe mood disorders of recurrent unipolar depression and bipolar illness, Dr. Altshuler uncovered brain mechanisms involved in these disorders that revealed abnormalities in temporal lobe structure. Her work in therapeutics also was noted, in which she describes a range of interventions for depression and mania. Additionally, her lab has conducted important studies on depression and medication in women during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

    Lori Altshuler and Tyrone Cannon, the Staglin Family Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, were recipients of a Distinguished Investigator Award to advance their neuropsychiatric research. For this award, Dr. Altshuler was recognized for her use of brain imaging to understand the relationship between grey and white matter brain structures and behavior in people with bipolar disorder. Dr. Cannon was recognized for his insights into the Disrupted-in-Schizophrenia-1 gene, or DISC1, that is thought to be involved in both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

    Joaquin Fuster, Professor of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral, was awarded the Patricia Goldman-Rakic Prize for Cognitive Neuroscience. This award is given in recognition of excellence in neurobiological research at the cellular, physiological or behavioral levels that may lead to a greater understanding of the cerebral cortex. Dr. Fuster is an expert on the function of the prefrontal cortex and the mechanisms of working memory. His research currently focuses on the cellular dynamics of active memory. In 1970, Dr. Fuster discovered the so-called “memory cells” in the prefrontal cortex of the primate — nerve cells that retain information for prospective actions. Because of their "time-bridging" capability, these cells are widely accepted to be at the physiological foundation of the executive functions of the frontal lobe, thus essential for planning and for the temporal organization of behavior, speech and reasoning.

    Hugh Tad Blair, was a recipient of a NARSAD Young Investigator Award.

    All of these awards were presented at the 2006 NARSAD Gala Awards Dinner held at New York’s Pierre Hotel on Friday, October 27, 2006.

    John C. Mazziotta, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology, and director of the Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center was named a new member in the prestigious Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Dr. Mazziotta is an expert in brain imaging, he established the first Brain Mapping Center at UCLA that includes all of the methods available to study human brain structure and function. He is the principal investigator of the International Consortium for Brain Mapping, whose goal is to develop the first atlas of the human brain that will include behavioral, demographic, imaging and genetic data from 7,000 subjects. Ultimately, this will provide the means for comparing investigations of normal and abnormal brain function, aiding diagnoses. Since beginning this work, Dr. Mazziotta has published over 239 research papers and eight texts and has received numerous awards and honors for these efforts. These include the Oldendorf Award from the American Society of Neuroimaging, the S. Weir Mitchell Award, the Wartenberg Prize of the American Academy of Neurology, the Von Hevesy Prize from the International Society of Nuclear Medicine and the UCLA Medical Alumni Award.

    Edward R.B. McCabe, Professor and Mattel Executive Endowed Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, and Physician-in-Chief of the Mattel Children’s Hospital, is the new president of the American Pediatric Society. The society’s mission is to advance the study of pediatric diseases and the prevention of illness, to promote pediatric education and research, and to honor those whose contributions to pediatrics have added to its advancement.

    Michael Phelps, Norton Simon Professor and Chair of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, received the World Nuclear Association Award for “distinguished contributions to the peaceful use of nuclear technology.” Dr. Phelps invented Positron Emission Tomography (PET), recently described as the most important advance in biomedical science since the microscope. PET provides images of biological processes in the human body, furthering understanding of oncology, cardiology and neurology.

    Warm congratulations to Drs. Altshuler, Blair, Cannon, Fuster, Mazziotta, McCabe, and Phelps from the staff, students and faculty of the Brain Research Institute!


    Nathaniel A. Buchwald

    Nathaniel A. Buchwald, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, and Neurobiology and the former director of the UCLA Mental Retardation Research Center died on July 14, 2006 at his home in Thousand Oaks.

    Professor Buchwald was an internationally renowned neuroscientist and electrophysiologist who made pioneering seminal contributions concerning the functions of the basal ganglia, areas of the brain involved in the etiology of neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, and of specific forms of developmental disabilities. He was director of the Mental Retardation Research Center, an Organized Research Unit in the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, from 1971 until 1993 and led a team of neuroscientists until his retirement. Over his career, he was the principal investigator on multimillion dollar grants from the National Institutes of Health and was active at national and international levels.

    He was an exemplary member of the faculty devoting considerable time and energy to the UCLA community.

    His wife Caroline survives him as do his two daughters and grandchildren.


    Charles “Tom” H. Sawyer- 1915-2006

    Dr. Charles “Tom” H. Sawyer, Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Neurobiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, passed away June 20, 2006 at the age of 91. He was a pioneer in the field of neuroendocrinology, his work fostering our understanding of how the brain controls the pituitary gland and reproductive function. His research contributed significantly to the development of effective contraceptives and the management of infertility. His scientific experimentation essentially started the intense study of monamines in neuroendocrine and general brain activity, still a major experimental thrust in neurobiology in terms of normal and pathological brain function. In his early electrophysiological experiments he was among the first researchers to describe REM sleep. Overall, as the hypothesis of the neural control of the pituitary gland became known, the field of neuroendocrinology was born and Dr. Sawyer can be considered one of the most influential pioneers in this burgeoning field.

    Dr. Sawyer was born in Ludlow, Vermont in 1915. He received an A.B. degree from Middlebury College (1937), was a Dutton Traveling Fellow at Cambridge University from 1937-1938 and received his Ph.D. degree with distinction in zoology from Yale University in 1941. He married Ruth Schaeffer of Waterbury, Connecticut, another Middlebury biologist, in 1941. After two years as an instructor in anatomy at Stanford University (1941-1943) he joined the Anatomy Department at Duke University. During his stay there (1943-1951), he rose to the rank of professor of anatomy. In 1951 he was invited by Dr. H.W. Magoun to join the new Department of Anatomy at UCLA, where Dr. Sawyer gave the first lecture at the new UCLA School of Medicine. Dr. Sawyer was one of the founding members of the UCLA Brain Research Institute, and was chairman of the Department of Anatomy at UCLA from 1955-1963 and again in 1968. He served the Public Health Service as a member of the Fellowship Review Board in Pharmacology and Endocrinology and as a member of the Neurology Study Section A from 1963-1967. He was the chairman of the Anatomy Panel of the National Board of Medical Examiners in 1964, on the council of the Endocrine Society from 1968-1970, and a member of the board of directors of the Society for the Study of Reproduction from 1969-1971. He was a council member of the International Society of Neuroendocrinology and a 50 year member of the American Physiological Society. He was a charter member of the UCLA Deans Council in 1973, and won the UCLA Brain Research Institute Award in 1966. He received the prestigious Koch Award of the Endocrine Society in 1973, gave the first Geoffrey Harris Memorial Lecture at UCLA in 1974, received the UCLA Certificate of Teaching Excellence Award in 1976, and won the Hartman Award of the Society for the Study of Reproduction in 1978. He was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Science in the Physiology and Pharmacology section in 1980. Dr. Sawyer received the Award of Extraordinary Merit from the UCLA Medical Alumni Association in 1990.

    During Dr. Sawyer’s long research career he published 336 papers in distinguished medical journals and taught gross anatomy to medical students for close to 60 years. Of particular importance to the development of the UCLA Department of Anatomy, Dr. Sawyer received a Ford Foundation training grant which funded postdoctoral training in the neuroendocrinology of reproduction. It is not an overstatement to conclude that almost every distinguished neuroendocrinologist of that era either trained at UCLA or interacted with UCLA neuroendocrinologists. Part of Dr. Sawyer’s legacy at UCLA is that fact that he initiated an interactive group of investigators studying and training in neuroendocrinology. That legacy still exists in the Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology of the Brain Research Institute which remains at the forefront of research in the relationship between hormones and brain development and function.

    Dr. Sawyer has been recognized for his scientific leadership, his research accomplishments, and his good humor and patience. He had a passion for classical music, particularly Mahler and Schubert, and was accomplished at the piano and organ. Finally, Dr. Sawyer fit the definition of a “gentleman” – sympathetic, open-minded and accessible. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Ruth Sawyer, his daughter, Dr. Joan Sawyer Steffan, who, inspired by her father, is an assistant professor in residence at the University of California, Irvine, studying mechanisms of neurodegeneration in Huntington’s Disease, his son-in-law Dr. William Steffan, a family physician, and two grandsons Joseph and Thomas Steffan.

    A memorial service and scientific symposium in honor of Dr. Sawyer was held on October 20, 2006.

    The Charles H. Sawyer Memorial Travel Fund has been set up through the Department of Neurobiology to support students and postdoctoral fellows travel to scientific meetings and conferences. In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations be made to the Charles H. Sawyer Memorial Travel Fund.

    Checks made out to "UC Regents," and donations should be addressed to:

    Fred Hughes
    UCLA Department of Neurobiology
    Box 951763
    Los Angeles, CA 90095-1763.


    The Joint Seminars in Neuroscience series will resume Winter quarter beginning January 9, 2007. Please mark your calendars and plan to join us every Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. in the Neuroscience Research Building Auditorium.

    The Joint Seminars in Neuroscience are sponsored by the Brain Research Institute, the Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior, and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

    Joint Seminars in Neuroscience
    Winter Quarter 2007

    January 9, 2007
    Stephen J. Moss, Ph.D. (Host: Richard Olsen)

    Department of Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania, and Department of Pharmacology, University College London
    “Molecular Mechanisms Underlying the Functional Modulation of GABA Receptors and Their Relevance to Human Pathology”

    January 16, 2007
    Robert L. Nussbaum, M.D. (Host: Nelson Freimer)

    Division of Medical Genetics, Department of Medicine, and The Institute for Human Genetics, University of California, San Francisco
    “Alpha-Synuclein and Parkinson’s Disease”

    January 23, 2007
    Rita J. Balice-Gordon, Ph.D. (Host: Yi Sun)
     Department of Neuroscience, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
    “Neuron-Glia Signaling During Synaptogenesis”

    January 30, 2007
    Karen F. Berman, M.D. (Host: Edythe London) 

    Chief, Section on Integrative Neuroimaging, Genes, Cognition, and Psychosis Program, Intramural Research Program, National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland
    “Translating Between Genes, Brain, and Behavior with Neuroimaging: Neural Mechanisms in Schizophrenia and Williams Syndrome”

    February 6, 2007
    David J. Perkel, Ph.D. (Host: Stephanie White)

    Departments of Biology and Otolaryngology, Graduate Program in Neurobiology & Behavior, University of Washington, Seattle
    “A Basal Ganglia Pathway Essential for Vocal Learning in Songbirds”

    February 13, 2007
    John Carlson, Ph.D. (Host: Mark Frye)

    Eugene Higgins Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
    “Odor Reception and Coding in Drosophila C.”

    February 20, 2007
    Leo J. Pallanck, Ph.D. (Host: Felix Schweizer)
     Department of Genome Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle
    “What Can Fruit Flies tell us about Parkinson’s Disease?” 

    February 27, 2007
    Carol A. Mason, Ph.D. (Host: Kelsey Martin)

    Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York
    “Patterning the Binocular Pathway at the Optic Chiasm: Guidance Factors and Genes”

    March 6, 2007
    Brian A. Wandell, Ph.D. (Host: Stephen Engel)

    Department of Psychology, Stanford University, California
    “Development and Plasticity in Visual Cortex”

    March 13, 2007
    The Brain Research Institute Eighteenth Annual H.W. Magoun Lecture

    Richard W. Olsen, Ph.D. (Host: Chris Evans)
    Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, UCLA
    “GABA-A Receptors are Molecular Targets for Alcohol and General Anesthetics”


    Elderhostel K. Patricia Cross Doctoral Research Grant

    This grant opportunity is for doctoral research students. Elderhostel, a not-for-profit organization providing educational opportunities through travel for older adults is proud to again offer the Elderhostel K. Patricia Cross Doctoral Research Grant, a scholarship founded to support future leaders in the field of lifelong learning. 
    The Elderhostel K. Patricia Cross Doctoral Research Grant is a $5,000 award presented annually to a student researching later-life learning in any of various disciplines, including but not limited to psychology, education, gerontology, cognitive studies, neuroscience and social work.

    The application deadline is February 15, 2007. The Elderhostel K. Patricia Cross Doctoral Research Grant recipient will be determined by a selection committee consisting of professors, practitioners and other leaders in the field of lifelong learning. The recipient will be announced in June 2007.

    For further information, including requirements and the online application, please Should you have any questions about the Elderhostel K. Patricia Cross Doctoral Grant, please email:

    The Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation (KTGF) 2007-2008 Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Programs

    Eligibility: Applicants must be promising young clinicians or basic researchers who have demonstrated skills for independent research and have completed all training, including post-doctoral clinical and/or research training.

    Program Summary: The Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation (KTGF) was started in 1993 and is administered by the grandchildren of Joseph Klingenstein of the "Klingenstein Fund.” The KTGF grant programs are separate and unique from the parent fund. KTGF strives to improve the lives of families afflicted by clinical depression and gives special consideration to childhood and adolescent depression. 
    This sponsor recently changed its grantmaking policy. All of its funding is now directed towards its two postdoctoral research fellowship programs and its medical student training.

    UCLA is included in the list of organizations eligible to nominate qualified candidates for the KTGF postdoctoral fellowships. Beginning in 2007, the sponsor is offering two types of fellowships:

    • Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in Childhood & Adolescent Depression
    • Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in Childhood & Adolescent ADHD (New Program)

    Applicants for both programs must hold Ph.D. and/or M.D. degrees and must have completed all research training, including postdoctoral training. Candidates must also be planning a career working in the field of childhood and adolescent depression research or childhood and adolescent ADHD research. One purpose of the fellowship programs is to establish a bridge for young investigators to secure future financial support from the NIMH.

    A total of five two-year fellowships will be awarded across the two programs. Fellowships are funded at $30,000 per year for two years. In special circumstances, the KTGF will also consider an application for a paid (or unpaid) extension to continue the fellowship project for a third year. Concurrent awards cannot be held during the term of a KTGF Postdoctoral Fellowship without prior approval.

    Due Dates: January 12, 2007 – Mandatory Letters of Nomination; April 2007 date TBD – Invited Full Proposals.

    To Apply: Please visit the KTGF website for the application procedures. The sponsor uses a two-step application submission process. Consideration for the Fellowships is by nomination only. Candidates must be nominated by a department chair or division director. The Letter of Nomination and other required documentation is due in January. After review, a selected number of candidates will be invited to submit full proposals due in April. At UCLA, invited Full Proposals are reviewed and submitted by the relevant OCGA Grant Analyst who has the delegated authority to submit grant proposals on behalf of the UC Regents. For more information contact:

    Sophie McKane, Program Associate
    The Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation
    787 Seventh Avenue, 6th Floor
    New York, NY 10019-6016
    Phone: (212) 492-6182

    2007 McKnight Scholar Awards

    The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience supports innovative research designed to bring science closer to the day when diseases of the brain can be accurately diagnosed, prevented, and treated. To this end, The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience invites applications for the 2007 McKnight Scholar Awards.

    These awards were established to encourage emerging neuroscientists to focus on disorders of learning and memory. Applicants for the McKnight Scholar Awards must demonstrate interest in solving important problems in relevant areas of neuroscience, including the translation of basic research to clinical neuroscience. Awards are given to exceptional young scientists who hold the M.D. and/or Ph.D. degree and who are in the early stages of establishing an independent laboratory and research career. Traditionally, successful candidates have held faculty positions for at least one year.

    Up to six McKnight Scholars each will receive three years of support, beginning July 1, 2007.

    Eligibility. Applicants must have the following: M.D. and/or Ph.D. degree; formal postdoctoral training completed at the time of application. A record of meritorious research in areas pertinent to the interests of the Endowment Fund. Not more than four years of experience in an independent/tenure-track faculty position. Evidence of a commitment to a career in neuroscience. U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status. U.S.-based sponsoring institution, to which awards will be paid.
    Applicants may not: Be employees of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute or scientists within the intramural program of the National Institutes of Health. Apply in more than two rounds of competition. Apply for continued postdoctoral support. Hold tenured positions or their equivalent.

    Amount and Purpose of Support. Each McKnight Scholar will receive $75,000 annually in 2007, 2008, and 2009. Funds may be used in any way that will facilitate development of the Scholar’s research program, but not for indirect costs.

    Selection Process. A review committee will evaluate applications and invite a select few to interview with the committee. Applicants selected will be notified by March 19. The interviews are scheduled for Friday, April 20, 2007, in San Francisco. The committee then will recommend candidates to the Board of Directors of the Endowment Fund for final decision. Awards will be announced on or before May 15, 2007.

    For application forms and guidelines, please visit the McKnight Foundation website, or email, call or write the office of The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience. Completed applications must arrive no later than January 2, 2007.

    The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience 
    710 South Second Street, Suite 400 
    Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401

    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:
    Marianne Cilluffo, x59848 (310-825-9848)

    Microscopic Techniques and Histological Preparation
    For information, contact:
    Marianne Cilluffo, x59848 (310-825-9848)

    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


    Postdoctoral Position in Autism Research

    There is a postdoctoral fellowship available in the laboratory of Professor. Ladan Shams (UCLA Department of Psychology) for a period of one year. The project primarily involves investigating multi-sensory integration in autism using behavioral methods, but the project is flexible and other studies and approaches are also welcome.

    The start date is as soon as possible, but no later than February 1, 2007. Experience is autism research is a big plus but not necessary. Some programming skill is required.

    Please send your CV to Ladan Shams at
    UCLA is an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer.


    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 the editorial office at x56055.

    Lisa Giragosian would like to obtain a research position at UCLA before enrolling in graduate school. “In June I graduated from Wellesley College with a B.A. in neuroscience and a minor in economics. I am interested in public health and intend to pursue a Master's degree in 2-3 years. In the meantime, I would like to gain experience in the field. I am interested in many areas of research: neurodegenerative diseases, addiction (biological and behavioral), development, health policy, health economics, neuropsychology, community health, and epidemiology. My coursework and experience at Wellesley has prepared me for positions that I am seeking. I am interested in a number of positions including: Staff Research Assistant, Data Manager – Programmer Analyst, and I am open to learning new skills.” If you are interested in this candidate, contact the editorial office for a copy of resume, and/or send e-mail directly to Lisa Giragosian at:

    Toyosi Oduyemi graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in neuroscience this past summer and is looking for a research position in neuroscience, particularly, neuroanatomy. “I worked in a laboratory for a few years as an undergraduate, mainly in the Department of Neurobiology at UCLA. I learned to make solutions very accurately, dissect animals, mainly frogs and rats, and culture specimens. I feel that I excel in neuroanatomy. I do not require much supervision; I only need to be told what to do, and shown an example. I would like to conduct research with clinical applications, particularly research that involves stem cells or investigating neurological disorders, since I plan to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. degree. I have also had a lot of patient interaction gained through my volunteer work at Loma Linda University and from working in Africa.” If you are interested in this candidate, contact the editorial office for a copy of resume, and/or send e-mail directly to Toyosi Oduyemi at:

    Surafel Tsega is a recent physiological science graduate. “While I do not have experience doing research in a laboratory, I have taken and excelled in all the pre-requisite laboratory classes for my major. I was also part of the Stroke Study Clinical Research Program at UCLA Medical Center. As a volunteer in the ER, I sought out potential patients for the various clinical trials, interviewed them to obtain their medical history and document their current conditions, and alerted the UCLA Stroke Team. I also spent time as a volunteer at both the UCLA Medical Center and the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center through the Care Extender Program. I completed rotations in the ER, radiology and medical/surgical departments, helping the doctors and nurses.” If you are interested in this candidate, contact the editorial office for a copy of resume, and/or send e-mail directly to Surafel Tsega 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