Neuroscience News Fall 2008

Published by the UCLA Brain Research Institute
Fall, 2008
Volume 17, No. 3

Table of Contents



    James Ashenhurst received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology with a certificate in neuroscience from Princeton University. There, he worked with Dr. Bart Hoebel and studied the neuronal basis for motivation for sugar, salt, and alcohol as it pertains to excessive intake of these substances. He continues to focus on motivation and reward, but in relation to addiction and drug dependence.

    Jennifer Brace graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, a minor in computer science and a certificate in cognitive science. She received a Master of Science degree in cognitive psychology from Carnegie Mellon University. Her current research interests include cognitive control and ADHD.

    Andrew Brumm graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience and a minor in public health. Andrew's research interests broadly include neural repair and the response of the brain to injury.

    Jeffrey Cantle received a Bachelor of Science degree in animal physiology and neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego. During his time in San Diego, Jeff conducted undergraduate research and later worked as a technician studying neuroendocrine receptors at the Salk Institute. Jeff's current research interests focus on the mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases.

    Jason Hauptman received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Muhlenberg College, where he studied molecular genetics as well as the ratio bias phenomenon and heuristics. He went on to earn his M.D. degree from UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School and is currently in his fourth year of neurosurgery residency at UCLA. His clinical interests are pediatric epilepsy surgery and functional neurosurgery. As a STAR fellow, Jason's basic science interest is the biology of cortical dysplasia and tuberous sclerosis.

    Victoria Ho graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and chemistry. Victoria's research interests include axonal transport and the mechanisms regulating translation at the synapse. As a student in the Medical Scientist Training Program, Victoria will be working in the laboratory of Dr. Kelsey Martin.

    Jennifer Kong graduated from Willamette University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology. After graduation, she worked at the University of Hawaii in the Bekesy Laboratory of Neurobiology. There, using transmission electron microscopy, she studied the evolution of myelin in crustaceans. Jennifer's research interests include neuro-degeneration, neural repair, and development.

    Kevin McEvoy graduated from the University of California, Berkeley where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree for his double major in molecular cell biology and cognitive neuroscience. He received highest honors for his thesis on top-down control of attention in young and older adults. After completing this first two years of medical school as part of the Medical Scientist Training Program, he has begun is Ph.D. research focusing on in vivodevelopment of network connectivity in the brain working in the laboratory of Dr. Carlos Portera-Cailliau.

    Jeffrey Rudie received a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and psychology from Washington University in St. Louis where he studied social developmental neuroscience and the cognitive neuroscience of memory. He is in UCLA's Medical Scientist Training Program and is conducting his dissertation research with Dr. Mirella Dapretto. He will be using neuroimaging modalities to quantify changes in functional brain activity in subjects with autism spectrum disorders while undergoing various clinical interventions.

    Elif Sozmen received a Bachelor of Science degree in molecular biology from CSU, Sacramento. Following graduation, she worked on cell cycle control in cancer stem cell models at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Elif's research interests include the role of oligodendrocyte progenitors in ischemic white matter injury and associated neural repair mechanisms. As a student in the Medical Scientist Training Program, Elif will be working in the laboratory of Dr. Tom Carmichael.

    Salvatore Torrisi received a Master of Fine Arts degree in computer music composition from California Institute of the Arts and a Master of Arts degree in applied linguistics from UCLA. While at UCLA he studied communication dysfunction in frontotemporal dementia. He is interested in the cognitive neuroscience of interaction and sociality.

    Donna Werling received a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology with a neuroscience concentration and a biology minor from Duke University. Her research interests include the etiology of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, the neurobiological bases for social behavior, and sexual differentiation of the brain.

    Yilan Yang graduated from Tsinghua University, China, with a Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences. At Tsinghua University she participated in studies of learning and memory, and also engaged in examining electrophysiological characteristics of the auditory system in rats. Her current research interests focus on brain imaging.


    The Brain Research Institute welcomes its newest members: Dr. Hong-Wei Dong, Assistant Professor of Neurology; Dr. Yih-Ing Hser, Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences; Dr. Martin Iguchi, Professor of Community Health Sciences; Dr. Walter Ling, Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences; Dr. Katherine Narr, Assistant Professor of Neurology; Dr. Richard Rawson, Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, and Associate Director of the Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, and Dr. Steven Shoptaw, Professor of Family Medicine, and Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences.

    Hong-Wei Dong graduated from the Fourth Military Medical University in China, and performed his Ph.D. studies in the Fourth Military Medical University and the University of Southern California. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship and held positions as a research associate and research assistant professor at USC until moving to the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle. In 2006, Dr. Dong joined the Laboratory of Neuroimaging at UCLA as Assistant Professor of Neurology.

    Dr. Dong’s research interests are neuroanatomy and neuroendocrinology. “My research follows three major paths. (1) Systematic characterization of neuronal connectivity in the mouse brain using modern neural tract tracing and genetic tracing technologies. The long- term goal of this project is to create a high resolution, three-dimensional connection matrix atlas of the C57Black/6J mouse brain, which will be an indispensable resource for basic and applied neurobiological research. (2) High-resolution gene expression analysis in the mouse brain. The purpose of this project is to refine the architectonic delineations of the mouse brain and identify novel candidate genes underlying wiring diagrams of brain structures. As a foundation of this project, previously I have published one standard mouse brain atlas—the Allen Reference Atlas (Dong, 2008, Wiley) which serves as the backbone of one genomic-wide gene expression mapping project, the Allen Brain Atlas ( (3) Investigations on the plasticity of neural circuits and molecular substrates underlying chronic psychological stress during new born and peri-puberty stages in mice, and determine the structural and molecular interface of psychological stress and cannabinoid activities. This study will help us to understand the genetic and epigenetic etiologies of many neural psychiatric disorders and drug abuse.”

    Yih-Ing Hser received a Ph.D. degree in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1986. In 1989, Dr. Hser joined UCLA where she is currently Professor-in-Residence of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs (ISAP) in the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and Director of the Center for Advancing Longitudinal Drug Abuse Research (CALDAR). Dr. Hser has been conducting research in the field of substance abuse and its treatment since 1980 and has extensive publications in the areas of treatment evaluation, epidemiology, natural history of drug addiction, and innovative statistical modeling development and application. Examples of her studies include: “A 33-year follow-up of heroin addicts,” “A 12-year follow-up of a sample of cocaine dependent users,” “California Treatment Outcome Project,” and “Treatment System Impact and Outcomes of Proposition 36 in California.” Currently she is conducting several studies in China. As the Director of CALDAR, she hosts a biannual Summer Institute on Longitudinal Research and Methods, and sponsors a Speaker Series on Longitudinal Research and Methods. She contributes to ISAP’s NIDA-funded T32 Training Program on Drug Abuse and Health Services, and mentors pre- and postdoctoral fellows.

    Martin Iguchi received his A.B. from Vassar College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. degree in experimental psychology from Boston University. He was Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and an Associate Professor at the Medical College of Pennsylvania and Hahnemann University (also known as the Allegheny University of the Health Sciences). Dr. Iguchi joined the RAND Corporation in 1997 as director of the Drug Policy Research Center. In 2004, Dr. Iguchi joined UCLA as a Professor in the School of Public Health, and continues as an Adjunct Senior Behavioral Scientist at RAND.

    Dr. Iguchi is PI of the scientific coordinating center for a multi-city Sexual Acquisition and Transmission of HIV Cooperative Agreement Program funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). This study examines drug use and related sexual behaviors in individuals using cocaine/crack, heroin, or methamphetamine, men who have sex with men (MSM), and their sexual partners in four cities: Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; and St. Petersburg, Russia.

    Dr. Iguchi’s research interests include drug abuse treatment, prevention and policy, HIV outreach, behavioral interventions, and public health. His recent publications examine drug courts, how the criminalization of drug use exacerbates health disparities in black and Hispanic communities, racial differences in marijuana acquisition behaviors that might elevate risk for arrest, motivational interviewing, cost-effectiveness, drug policies, contingency management treatment for chronically depressed cocaine abusers, shaping abstinence in smokers, HIV medication adherence, and prescription drug abuse. Dr. Iguchi also received the 2007 UCLA Undergraduate Neuroscience Society Award for Teaching Excellence.

    Walter Ling received his M.D. degree from the Chulalongkorn University Medical School in Bangkok, Thailand. He then completed an internship in medicine, and residencies in neurology and psychiatry at Washington University Medical School in Saint Louis, Missouri. Dr. Ling moved to California to join UCLA as a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, and Chief of the Drug Dependence Treatment Center at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Sepulveda and also conducted a private practice in neurology and psychiatry. Currently, Dr. Ling is Professor in Residence of Psychiatry at UCLA, and Director of the Integrated Substance Abuse Programs (ISAP) at UCLA, one of the foremost substance abuse research groups in the world. Dr. Ling is PI of the Pacific Region Node of the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) Clinical Trials Network (CTN), designed to bring cutting-edge findings from treatment research to practice in community-based treatment programs throughout the United States. Other collaborative work is conducted with the U.S. Department of State, the U.N. Office of International Narcotics Affairs and the World Health Organization. Dr. Ling is also Co-PI on the ISAP-hosted and administered Drug Abuse Research Training Center, a pre- and post-doctoral training program funded by NIH/NIDA through an Institutional Training Grant (T32).

    Dr. Ling’s research interests include “investigations addressing the effectiveness of medications in the treatment of addiction, as well as the development of promising combinations of pharmacotherapeutic and psychosocial treatment strategies for reducing or eliminating use of opioids, cocaine, and methamphetamine. At the ISAP Outpatient Clinical Research Center (OCRC) we conduct clinical research on-site. OCRC projects include:

    • A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of a proprietary protocol for methamphetamine dependence. 
    • A comparison study of four psychosocial treatment conditions randomly assigned to opioid-dependent participants receiving buprenorphine pharmacotherapy. 
    • A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled medication trial of long-acting buprenorphine subcutaneous implants. 
    • A randomized, double-blind trial comparing two formulations of depot buprenorphine for the treatment of moderate pain. 
    • A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of bupropion for the treatment of methamphetamine dependence, conducted under the auspices of NIDA’s Medication Development for Stimulant (MDS) Dependence. In addition to the research listed above, several CTN projects are conducted at community-based treatment programs across the country. These projects include: 
    • A study examining liver functioning in participants provided with methadone or buprenorphine pharmacotherapy. 
    • A study providing buprenorphine and two levels of psychosocial treatment for participants who are dependent on prescription opioids.
    • A project investigating the effectiveness of 12-Step facilitation for reducing substance use.”

    Katherine Narr received a Ph.D. degree in neuroscience from UCLA in 2002. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship conducting imaging studies in psychopathology research in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA. In 2005, Dr. Narr joined UCLA as Assistant Professor of Neurology.

    Dr. Narr’s research interests focus on applied neurobiological imaging in psychiatric disorders. “My program of research is centered on using imaging data from multiple modalities, including proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H MRS) and structural (sMRI), functional (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), to facilitate a deeper understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms and genetic contributions associated with schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders. Though this work encompasses the study of structural and functional brain abnormalities across several different brain systems, I focus on using advanced imaging methodologies to determine whether aspects of a specific cortical network, the medial temporal lobe (MTL) memory system, are selectively disturbed in schizophrenia. Specifically, experiments aim to establish the presence of structure-function relationships, and to identify system components indexing genetic vulnerability effects. Another area of focus addresses whether novel analysis strategies applied to 1H MRS data may determine whether disruptions of ongoing neurogenesis in the hippocampus and of the integration of new neurons into MTL and prefrontal cortical networks may be a mechanism by which schizophrenia develops. Other program goals include relating brain abnormalities identified using imaging methods to cognition, treatment response and functional outcome.”

    Richard Rawson received a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Vermont in 1974, the same year he joined UCLA as an assistant research psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences. He subsequently had the same title in the Department of Psychiatry at New York Medical College for two years before returning to California. In 1984, with several partners, Dr. Rawson founded the Matrix Center and Matrix Institute on Addictions in Los Angeles, where he served as President and Chairman of the Board, and Executive Director. In 1995, Dr. Rawson returned to UCLA and has served since as Associate Director of the Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, and is currently Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences.

    Dr. Rawson’s research interests focus on the treatment of substance use disorders and treatment system evaluation. He is principal investigator on NIDA-funded clinical trials on pharmacological and psychosocial addiction treatments. He is principal investigator of the Los Angeles County Evaluation System Program (LACES) and the California Outcome System Monitoring Program (CalOMS). Much of his emphasis in the past 5 years has been in the area of teaching and training. He is principal investigator of the UCLA NIDA-funded pre- and postdoctoral training program on substance abuse treatment and research and on the SAMHSA-funded Pacific Southwest Addiction Technology Transfer Center. He has led addiction research and training projects for the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the U.S. State Department, exporting science-based knowledge to many parts of the world. He has published 3 books, 34 book chapters, and over 200 peer-reviewed articles, and has conducted over 1,000 workshops, paper presentations, and training sessions on the topic of addiction.

    Steven Shoptaw received a Ph.D. in psychology from UCLA. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in psychophysiology in the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior (formerly the NPI) and the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in Sepulveda, California. Dr. Shoptaw is currently Professor of Family Medicine and Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA.

    Dr. Shoptaw’s primary research interest is medication and behavioral therapy for stimulant abuse. “As PI of an NIDA P50 project, UCLA Medication Development Unit for Stimulant Abuse, this project provides support for linked Phase I (safety interaction) and Phase II (early efficacy) trials of novel medications for methamphetamine dependence. I also work with Dr. Edythe London to lead a project evaluating smoking cessation therapies in adolescent smokers.” Dr. Shoptaw’s interests in evaluating use of stimulant abuse therapies as a method for reducing infectious disease transmission in high-risk groups has yielded several funded protocols locally and nationally.

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


    Endowed chairs provide tools for area support and appreciation of faculty excellence. The BRI currently manages six endowed chairs and one endowed scholar award, endowments totaling approximately nine million dollars. On accepting the BRI directorship, Dr. Chris Evans created two term chairs by splitting the BRI Leslie Chair in Neuroscience, to form a chair for pioneering research (currently held by Dr. Harley Kornblum) and a chair in innovative research (currently held by Dr. Kelsey Martin), while retaining a substantial portion of these funds in order to continue the original Leslie Chair, a chair intended for a senior neuroscientist that provides an excellent resource for faculty recruitment. A gift honoring Joanne and George Miller provided a chair for depression research and treatment (currently held by Dr. Ian Cook). There are also two new administrative chairs; one chair is held by the BRI Associate Director for Education (the Gail Patrick Chair, occupied by Dr. Michael Levine), the second administrative chair was created using funds from the BRI O’Malley endowment, and is a chair for the leadership of the Neuroscience History Program (currently held by Dr. Joel Braslow). The Carol Moss Spivak Scholar in Neuroscience Award (currently held by Dr. Guoping Fan) was created to recognize and support an outstanding faculty member at the assistant or associate professor level involved in research dealing with disorders of those areas of the nervous system and brain that are related to the processing of genetic information. These diseases include such serious problems as neurofibromatosis and other growth and neurological disorders, along with severe disorders of the brain and mind. BRI-administered chairs support both the research and administrative infrastructure of the BRI and its members. 


    The BRI congratulates the meritorious achievements of Dr. Marie-Françoise Chesselet Dr. Frank Krasne, Dr. Robert Pechnick, and Dr. Yvette Taché.

    Dr. Chesselet, Charles Markham Professor of Neurology, and Chair of the Department of Neurology, is the incoming treasurer-elect of the Society for Neuroscience. In addition, Dr. Chesselet received one of three new grants from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health to study how environmental factors contribute to the cause, prevention and treatment of Parkinson’s disease and other related disorders.

    Dr. Krasne, Professor of Psychology, is the recipient of a Brain P. Copenhaver Award for Innovation in Teaching with Technology, an award that recognizes faculty who make innovative use of technology to improve undergraduate education. Dr. Krasne created “Swimmy,” a virtual fish that challenges students to discover how neural circuitry generates spontaneous, repetitive movement patterns of swimming.

    Dr. Pechnick, Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, received a 2008 Award for Excellence in Education. The award was established to recognize outstanding dedication, innovation, and sustained excellence in education. It is a peer recognition award, and is given to faculty who have carried an exceptional teaching load and created educational innovations, among other accomplishments.

    Dr. Taché, Professor of Medicine; Director, CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center - Animal Core; and Co-Director, Center for Neurovisceral Sciences & Women's Health at UCLA, was selected as a 2008 Outstanding American Gastroenterology Association Women in Gastroenterology award recipient. In addition, Dr. Taché was the recipient of the 2008 Research Scientist Award from the Functional Brain-Gut Research Group for her sustained and substantial contributions to the filed of functional bowel disease and GI motility.

    Warm congratulations to Drs. Chesselet, Krasne, Pechnick and Taché from the staff, students and faculty of the Brain Research Institute!



    The Joint Seminars in Neuroscience series will resume Winter quarter beginning January 6, 2009. 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 2009

    January 6, 2009 
    Liqun Luo, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, Stanford University; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stanford, California
    “Probing Neural Circuits with Genetic Mosaics in Flies and Mice”
    (Host: Alvaro Sagasti;

    January 13, 2009
    Dora E. Angelaki, Ph.D., Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri
    “Multisensory Integration for Spatial Perception in Macaque Visual Cortex”
    (Host: James Bisley;

    January 20, 2009
    Melvyn A. Goodale, Ph.D., Centre for Brain and Mind, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
    “Duplex Vision in the Primate Cerebral Cortex: Separate Pathways for Action and Perception”
    (Host: Dario Ringach;

    January 27, 2009
    Joshua R. Sanes, Ph.D., Center for Brain Science, and Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
    “Synaptic Specificity in the Visual System”
    (Host: Larry Zipursky;

    February 3, 2009
    Rachel I. Wilson, Ph.D., Department of Neurobiology, Harvard University Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
    “Olfactory Processing in the Drosophila Brain”
    (Host: Mark Frye;

    February 10, 2009
    James A. Tepper, Ph.D., Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey
    “Basal Ganglia Dopamingergic Neurons: Not What You Think”
    (Host: Mike Levine;

    February 17, 2009
    Catherine S. Woolley, Ph.D., Department of Neurobiology & Physiology, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
    “Estrogen and Synapses in the Hippocampus: GABA, NPY, and Seizures”
    (Host: Rhonda Voskuhl;

    February 24, 2009
    Joseph S. Takahashi, Ph.D., Walter and Mary Elizabeth Glass Professor of Neurobiology & Physiology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
    “Title to be Determined”
    (Host: Nelson Freimer;

    March 3, 2009
    James V. Haxby, Ph.D., Evans Family Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Director, Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
    “Title to be Determined”
    (Host: Russell Poldrack;

    March 11, 2009
    The Brain Research Institute Twentieth Annual H.W. Magoun Lecture
    “Speaker and Title to be Determined”
    (Host: Chris Evans;

    The Brain Research Institute’s K-12 Educational and Community Science Outreach Program

    The BRI sponsors multiple scientific and educational outreach programs throughout the year for the greater Los Angeles community. Events include school visits, tours and demonstrations by "Project Brainstorm" and "Interaxon," "Brain Awareness Week" activities, judging and presentation of awards at the California State Science Fair, and Summer High School Student Research Internships.

    Project Brainstorm grew out of the former SPARCS (Special Achievement Rewards for College Scholars) Program that was developed by Dr. Arnold Scheibel and Ms. Norma Bowles of the ARCS Foundation (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists). In 2006, two graduate students in the UCLA Interdepartmental Neuroscience Ph.D. Program, Libby O’Hare and Rafael Romero, together with Dr. Joseph B. Watson organized Project Brainstorm into a formal course that offers undergraduates the opportunity to conduct field internships in Los Angeles area schools. Under the current leadership of Nanthia Suthana, Neuroscience graduate students teach undergraduates at UCLA how to speak to K-12 students about how the human brain works in a simple way. On a typical visit, a team of 2 graduate and 8 undergraduate students teach kids with a very brief power point presentation, a few teaching props, plastic models of the brain, real human brains, and a few animal brains for comparison. Through group participation, interactive games at stations, and hands-on exercises, students receive instruction in the basic science of the brain such as "What does the brain do? What is it made of? What happens as your brain grows? What is good for your brain? What is bad for your brain?" More formal topics included Brain Injury, Learning and Memory, Neurological Disorders and Effects of Drugs on the Brain. Students and teachers alike love our Neuroscience students and they respond with enthusiasm and show a great deal of interest in the brain. Hopefully this interest will survive, be nurtured and grow until the students are able to pursue an educational path that will lead them to careers in science. Project Brainstorm together with Interaxon also holds special community events off campus.

    Interaxon is an Undergraduate Neuroscience Educational Outreach Group affiliated with the BRI. Interaxon was founded in 2006 by Shanna Fang who was among the first group of undergraduate students to complete the Project Brainstorm course. Interaxon consists of 50 or more members from a wide variety of majors. Their primary focus is helping schools in disadvantaged Los Angeles areas which are under-funded in the sciences. Interaxon uses approaches such as stations, brain models, novel games, and props to talk about the brain, often with help from graduate students and faculty. Interaxon has been a huge success in the Los Angeles area, reaching out to a large number of K-12 student groups with as many as 6 presentations per quarter to as many as 150 students in a single visit to a school.

    Each year the UCLA Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience recognizes Brain Awareness Week (BAW). During a typical BAW, over 250 students from schools in Los Angeles county visit the BRI on a very special field trip to celebrate the brain. Each day K-12 students arrive in front of the Gonda (Goldschmied) Neuroscience and Genetics Research Center to join Project Brainstorm leaders, Nanthia Suthana, Marina Ziehn and Angela Rizk-Jackson. The tour begins with a brief overview on the structure and function of the brain, and then graduate students conduct presentations on the brain, including some hands-on activities, and educational, age-appropriate presentations ranging from brain injury, two-point discrimination testing, sensation, synaptic function, hemispheric differences, motor system and lobe functions set up by the Interaxon undergraduate group. The students then visit research laboratories in the Gonda Center where they hear presentations about research on topics such as Aplysia, Drosophila, and memory research. Regardless of grade level, all students express great curiosity, insight, and interest throughout the entire day while being guided through the fascinating neuroscience research environment at UCLA.

    The BRI Outreach Program also sponsors science fairs off campus at local high schools and also at the state level. The BRI sponsors prizes at the Annual California State Science Fair, awarding multiple Neuroscience prizes for both the senior (grades 9-12) and junior (grades 6-8) levels. During the summer the BRI also places as many as 20 local high school students in research labs in the UCLA neuroscience community. The BRI will also sponsor winners of local high school fairs as part of the Summer Internship Program.


    Chancellor’s Award for Postdoctoral Research

    This award will provide a prize of $4,000 each to especially accomplished UCLA postdoctoral scholars recognized for their outstanding research. This prize was established in 1998 to acknowledge the remarkable contributions and integral role of our postdoctoral scholars to the research mission of the university.

    The procedures for nominating a postdoctoral scholar for this prize are outlined in the Acrobat PDF document linked below. Faculty are encouraged to participate in the nominating process. A dossier comprised of a nominating cover letter from the faculty mentor, approval by the chair, a personal statement from the postdoctoral scholar, the postdoctoral scholar’s curriculum vitae, up to two supporting letters of recommendation, and additional explanatory materials are required for nomination. As discussed in the guidelines linked below, chairs and unit directors are encouraged to establish a point person(s) in each department to coordinate the collection of nomination materials. Chairs will be responsible for pre-screening the nominations to ensure that no more than two nominations are submitted to the final selection committee. Large departments that have compelling reasons for submitting more than two nominations may contact the Graduate Division to discuss additional nominations. Please note that the deadline for departments to submit nomination materials to the Graduate Division isThursday, January 15, 2009.

    All nominees, including the winners, of the Chancellor’s Award for Postdoctoral Research will be notified in early March and all will be honored at the postdoctoral scholars' reception on March 10, 2009. This event will bring together postdoctoral scholars and faculty research mentors from a variety of academic areas to honor the contributions of our postdoctoral researchers.

    If you have any questions about the nominating process, please contact Lisa Itagaki, Director, Office of Postdoctoral & Visiting Scholar Services at (310) 825-0636 or
    Nomination Guidelines for the Chancellor's Award for Postdoctoral Research (PDF-71KB)

    2009 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 2009 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, 2009.

    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 (exceptions may be made to account for parental leave). 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. Hold another type of McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience award that would overlap with the Scholar Award.

    Amount and Purpose of Support.
    Each McKnight Scholar will receive $75,000 annually in 2009, 2010, and 2011. 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 20, 2009. The interviews are scheduled for Friday, April 17, 2009, 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, 2009.

    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, 2009.

    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 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 announcement:

    The Training Program in Neural Repair
    Two postdoctoral positions are available immediately on an NIH-funded training grant for research relevant to Neural Repair at UCLA. Applicants MUST be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. at the time of the application. Starting date MUST be before June 30, 2009. Preference will be given to applicants who have obtained a M.D. or Ph.D. degree less than 24 months before the starting date. Appointment is for one year only. To apply, send a letter of nomination from the faculty mentor, a brief description (1-2 pages) of the research program, your graduate G.P.A., an NIH biosketch with list of publications, and two letters of recommendation to Dr. Chesselet at: Applications will be reviewed by the TPNR steering committee as they are received and will be considered until the positions are filled. For inquiries, please contact:

    Marie-Francoise Chesselet, MD, PhD
    Program Director
    Departments of Neurology and Neurobiology David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
    B114 RNRC
    710 Westwood Plaza
    Los Angeles, CA 90095

    T32/T90 Neuroscience Training Grants at UCLA

    A number of training grants offer support to neuroscience graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Appointments are generally made each year at the beginning of the project period, but can be made during the entire year. All inquiries and applications must be submitted by the faculty mentor. The BRI frequently sends out “Call for Nominations,” so please watch for announcements. Mike Levine is submitting a T32 program to fund 1st and 2nd year Neuroscience students across the IDP, Neurobiology and Psychology programs which if successful will increase cross-talk among our training programs. 

    Of note is that the BRI has recently instated a committee (The BRI Committee for Enhancement of Neuroscience Training Programs) to determine where the BRI can help in the operation and submission of NIH T32 grants. The Chair of the Committee is the BRI Associate Director for Research Dr Bernard Balleine and several new initiatives regarding program recruitment, faculty information databases and ethics training will be put in place during the coming months.

    T32/T90 Neuroscience Training Grants at UCLA

    Grant Number

    PI Name

    Project Title

    Number Pre/Post



    Arnold, Arthur

    Neuroendocrinology, Sex Differences, and Reproduction

    5 Pre
    2 Post



    Chesselet, Marie-Francoise

    Training Program in Neural Repair     

    2 Pre
    2 Post



    Cohen, Mark

    Comprehensive Training in Neuroimaging Fundamentals and Applications   

    5 Pre



    De Vellis, Jean

    Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities

    3 Pre
    5 Post



    Devaskar, Sherin

    Training in Neonatal and Developmental Diseases

    7 Post



    Dunkel Schetter, Christine

    Biobehavioral Issues in Physical and Mental Health

    3 Pre
    2 Post

    7/1 or 9/1


    Fanselow, Michael

    Training in Behavioral Neuroscience  

    3 Pre
    2 Post



    Feldman, Jack

    Training Program in Neural Microcircuits

    2 Pre
    2 Post



    Freimer, Nelson

    Training Grant in Neurobehavioral Genetics          

    4 Post



    Geschwind, Daniel

    Training Grant in Neurobehavioral Genetics

    4 Pre



    Glanzman, David

    Training Program in Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology

    4 Pre

    7/1-6/30 in 09


    Hinkin, Charles

    Neuropsychology AIDS Fellowship

    3 Post

    Start 7/1 thru 9/1


    Irwin, Michael

    Post-Graduate Training Program in Psychoneuroimmunology and Mental Disorders

    3 Post
    2 yrs



    Leuchter, Andrew

    Research Training: Psychobiological Sciences

    5 Post



    London, Edythe

    Training Program in Translational Neuroscience of Drug Abuse

    3 Pre



    Monbouquette, Harold

    Biotechnology Training in Biomedical Sciences

    5 Pre



    O'Dell, Thomas

    Cellular Neurobiology

    4 Post



    Rawson, Richard

    UCLA Drug Abuse Research Training Center

    2 Pre
    3 Post

    1 yr--Varies


    Tidball, James

    Training in Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Physiology

    4 Pre

    Oct 1
    1 year appt


    Travis, Gabriel

    Vision Research Training Grant

    6 Pre
    2 Post



    BRI Cores:
    Carol Moss Spivak Cell Imaging Facility*
    Confocal Microscopy
    For information, contact: 
    Dr. Matt Schibler X59783 (310-825-9783)

    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)

    * The BRI Carol Moss Spivak Cell Imaging Core has moved in with the Advanced Light Microscopy Core, directed by Shimon Weiss and Laurent Bentolila. After a decade of operation on the first floor of the Gonda, joining these two facilities will result in a technically sophisticated confocal core on campus with considerably up-graded equipment and increased capacity compared to our current facility. The facility will have enhanced capability for FRET, FLIM, FCS, 2-photon microscopy and small animal imaging (zebrafish, flies and C. elegans). This core is centrally located on the B floor of the new California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI) and will continue to be available to all faculty laboratories at UCLA. Dr. Matt Schibler who has admirably run the BRI core since its inception will continue to train users and run/maintain equipment in the new facility. For concerned regular users of the core please contact Matt if you require details of instrument availability in March and April; the exact date for completion of the move is not yet established. There should be little downtime since most of the new instruments are up and running. You may need to learn slight differences between the new confocals even though they run on the same software. At this time no increase in core usage fees is anticipated.

    Other Cores:
    Biopolymer Laboratory
    Peptide synthesis, amino acid analysis, Edman sequencing, mass spectrometry.
    For information contact:
    Margaret Condron x62088 (310.206.2088)

    Pasarow Mass Spectrometry Laboratory
    For information, contact:
    Dr. Kym Faull X67881 (310-206-7881)

    Research Resources Available:
    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

    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 Fellows, Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

    Two open positions, available immediately, for Postdoctoral Fellows in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The first project involves expressing glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) in rat brain using an inducible adenovirus vector, and testing its effects on cocaine self-administration in the rat. The second project involves studying the effects of chemotherapeutic agents on cognitive function and neurogenesis in the rat. Applicants should have a Ph.D. and a background in psychology, pharmacology or neuroscience Please contact:

    Robert N. Pechnick, Ph.D.
    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences
    Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
    Thalians Mental Health Center, Room E-123
    8730 Alden Drive
    Los Angeles, CA 90048
    Phone 310-423-6206; Fax 310-423-0888

    NIH-funded Postdoctoral Positions Mechanisms of Plasticity and Neural Repair

    NIH-funded postdoctoral positions are available immediately for Ph.D. graduates to study mechanisms of plasticity and neural repair in the brain and spinal cord. Projects are centered on the effects of diet and exercise on cognitive abilities and neural repair, involving molecular and behavioral approaches. Productive experience in molecular biology or biochemistry is desirable. 
    Send resume:

    F. Gómez-Pinilla, Ph.D.
    Department of Physiological Sciences
    University of California, Los Angeles
    Los Angeles, CA 90095-1527


    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.

    Parwin Hakimi received a Bachelor of Arts degree in molecular and cell biology/ neurobiology from UC Berkeley and would like to obtain a research associate position. With 10 years of medical lab experience in Afghanistan, Parwin has knowledge working in hematology, parasitology, virology, biochemistry, and bacteriology, as well as biology, biotechnology, chemistry and neurobiology through study courses and volunteer work at LA Pierce College and UC Berkeley. Parwin has experience using micropipettes, Western Blot, PCR, and many others techniques. In addition to lab experience, Parwin is experienced using Word, Excel and PowerPoint programs, and has experience in administrative, clerical and management areas. Parwin is available for administrative and/or scientific work as either a paid employee or volunteer. Please contact Parwin directly

    Meg Margossian is a recent graduate of UCLA, cum laude. She is familiar with various molecular biology techniques such as DNA sequencing, bacterial transformation and cloning, enzyme activity assays, gel electrophoresis and PCRs. Although she has not personally set up the apparatus, she is also familiar with voltage clamp experiments. She has assisted a graduate student in his experiments involving fMRI and has also assisted a postdoctoral fellow in slicing brain tissue and mounting the tissue onto slides. She is especially interested in neuroimaging, particularly in fMRI techniques. In the electrophysiological aspect of the field, she is interested in neuronal signaling, and the role of ion channels. In neurocognition, she is interested in studies of aphasics, or drug addictions/ interactions. Please contact Meg Margossian at E-mail:

    Joshua J. Sayre during the past two years has completed study at Harvard University to obtain an additional degree in health sciences in preparation of applying to medical school. He decided not to apply to medical right away in order to explore alternate options for further study within medicine. While taking premedical science courses, he learned basic laboratory techniques and would like to continue conducting research. His laboratory experience consists of basic molecular biology techniques including PCR, DNA purification, and gel electrophoresis. He feels he is a quick learner and will not need. He is organized and independent, but also enjoys working as a team, and is dedicated to his work. He received A’s in his laboratory sections and had a science GPA of 3.73 at Harvard University, and a business GPA of 3.8 at Pepperdine University. He believes his business degree adds a unique approach and mindset to research. His business strengths include statistics, statistical analysis, and computer sciences courses. Please contact Joshua directly via phone (559-805-3524) or via Email:

    Jessica Schneider would like to obtain a lab position at UCLA next year. She will be graduating from the University of Michigan in May and is extremely interested in a one year lab position. She worked in a lab last year that focused on reward, and is interested in the basis of learning disabilities and diseases that develop in later life, such as Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and Parkinson's. Please contact Jessica directly 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,, or call extension 56055 or 55061.

    Editor: Linda Maninger