Neuroscience News Spring 2002

Published by the UCLA Brain Research Institute 
SPRING, 2002 
Volume 11, No. 2

Table of Contents

Published by the UCLA Brain Research Institute
Spring, 2002 
Volume 11, No. 2


The Brain Research Institute welcomes Drs. Mirella Dapretto, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Dave Gayle, Visiting Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Edythe London, Visiting Professor of Psyschiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Riccardo Olcese, Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology, Bruce Teter, Assistant Professor of Medicine, and Richard Zimmer, Professor of Organismic Biology, Ecology and Evolution, as new members in the Institute.

Mirella Dapretto received a Ph.D. degree in Developmental Psychology, with a minor in behavioral neuroscience and specializing in early language development, from UCLA in 1994. As a postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Brain Mapping Center, Dr. Dapretta acquired expertise in functional neuroimaging (fMRI in particular) and conducted several studies on the neural basis of language processing in both children and adults. As a junior faculty member at the UCLA Brain Mapping Center, she continued to pursue this line of research by investigating the neural networks involved in different linguistic functions (e.g., semantics, phonology, syntax, prosody), in both normal children and adults, as well as in clinical (e.g., autism, dyslexia, early-onset schizophrenia) and bilingual populations. Currently, as an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, ongoing research projects include investigations on the neural basis of higher lingusitic functions (e.g., discourse, communicative intent) in typically developing and high-functioning autistic children.
Dave Gayle received a Ph.D. degree in molecular neuroscience from the University of Delaware in 1999. As a NIA postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Gayle completed training in the Departments of Neurological Sciences, and Pharmacology at Rush-Presbyterian- St. Luke’s Medical Center. Dr. Gayle is currently a Visiting Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Dr. Gayle is interested in the impact of maternal metabolic and immune changes on fetal CNS development. Describing his research he states, “The Barker Hypothesis proposes that adult diseases including cardiovascular pathologies may, in part, have originated in utero. My current work expands this hypothesis to the ontogeny of appetite in sheep. Specifically, pregnant sheep are subjected to various metabolic changes to determine the impact on the central regulatory mechanisms of appetite in the offspring. We are proposing that maternal nutritional status will induce permanent changes in the expression of appetite regulatory peptides such as NPY and orexins in the fetal brain that will lead to feeding-related disorders such as obesity in postnatal life.”
Edythe London received a Ph.D. degree in pharmacology from the University of Maryland. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Upon completion of her fellowship at Johns Hopkins, Dr. London moved to the National Institute of Aging in the Laboratory of Neuroscience, at the Gerontology Research Center. She then moved to the NIDA, and spent the next several years in many capacities including: Acting Chief, Neuroscience Branch, Addiction Research Center; Chief, Neuropharmacology Laboratory, Addiction Research Center; Chief, Brain Imaging Section; and Director, Brain Imaging Section. During the years 1987-1999, Dr. London also held concurrent appointments as Adjunct Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at the University of Maryland, and as Associate Professor of Radiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. London joined the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences in 1999.

Dr. London is a neuropharmacologist whose work focuses on the neurobiology of addictive disorders, and the development of probes for noninvasive imaging of the brain. “My on-going projects use positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging to explain how brain function differs in methamphetamine abusers vs. healthy non-drug abusing individuals, and in tobacco smokers vs. nonsmokers. I am expanding my prior work on development of new, subtype-selective radioligands for nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (major focus on alpha4beta2 and alpha7 subtypes), and establishing a new molecular imaging laboratory to do preclinical development of PET radiotracers for investigating the biological basis of behavior.” 

Riccardo Olcese received a Ph.D. degree in biology from the University of Genova, Italy. Working in the Institute of Cybernetics and Biophysics, Dr. Olcese’s thesis research concerned molecular mechanisms in general anesthesia. In 1992, Dr. Olcese moved to Baylor College of Medicine as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Enrico Stefani. Investigations at Baylor focused on the structure and function of voltage activated ion channels. Dr. Olcese moved to UCLA when Dr. Stefani joined the UCLA Department of Anesthesiology, and continued studies on voltage and Ca 2+ activated ion channels and their regulatory subunits. Dr. Olcese is currently Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology.

Dr. Olcese is most interested in the physiology and biophysics of ion channels. Two major projects include the structural rearrangements of channel protein during mode of operation, and the mechanisms of ion permeation through ion channels. “Voltage-dependent ion channels respond to changes of membrane potential by a rearrangement of a voltage sensing structure. The movement of the voltage sensor produces a conformational change of the channel that allows ion conduction through the pore. In this project, part of my research is currently dedicated to understand the coupling mechanism between the movements of the voltage sensor and pore opening. This study involves the measurement of small currents (gating currents) generated by the movement of the charged voltage sensor across the transmembrane electric field. Gating currents reveal the conformational changes of the channel protein, occurring before and during channel opening. In this research program, I am combining optical methods with classical electrophysiology to detect conformational changes of the channels. This novel approach in ion channels studies allows detection of conformational changes of channel protein as changes in fluorescence properties of fluorophores covalently attached to selected positions on the protein (voltage clamp + site directed fluorescence labeling). One of the goals is to correlate at the molecular level, the structural changes in voltage and calcium activated (BK) channel, with the different phases of channel activity. The final objective is to obtain a molecular and dynamic view of BK channels by identifying the mobile regions underlying voltage sensing.

Another project investigates mechanisms of ion permeation through ion channels. One of my current interests is to understand how charged amino acids in close proximity of the conduction pore affect the conduction properties of voltage- and calcium-activated K+ channels. In combination with theoretical, biophysical and pharmacological studies, I learn about the basic mechanisms of ion permeation and channel gating at the molecular level. One of the objectives is to understand the unique permeation properties of BK channels, which allow K+ to permeate 20fold better in respect to other potassium channels that share very similar amino acid pore sequences.” 

Bruce Teter received a Ph.D. degree in molecular biology from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, in 1991. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in neurogerontology working with Dr. Caleb Finch at the Andrus Gerontology Center. In 1992, Dr. Teter was appointed Research Associate at the Andrus Gerontology Center, and stayed at USC until joining UCLA in 1996. Dr. Teter is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at UCLA, and Chief of the ApoE Research Laboratory, and Research Associate at GREEC, Veterans Affairs, GLAHS.

Dr. Teter’s research focuses on mechanisms of regeneration in the brain, and the role this may play in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s (AD) and Parkinson’s (PD). “The major genetic risk factor for sporadic AD is apolipoprotein (apoE). The apoE4 isotype may accelerate the age of onset of AD by inhibiting compensatory regenerative responses like neuronal sprouting, as a consequence of its role in lipid metabolism. Studies using organotypic hippocampal slice cultures from apoE transgenic mice have shown that apoE4 represents a gain-of-negative activity in supporting neuronal sprouting. This may have important implications for the pharmacogenetic efficacy of therapeutic drugs for AD that modulate the expression of the apoE gene. Future studies include evaluation of such drug effects on apoE expression, using anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants. In addition, a mouse model of PD (using the neurotoxin MPTP) is being used to test whether oxidative neurodegeneration can be blocked by a dietary anti-oxidant and whether apoE isotype affects regenerative recovery mechanisms.”

Richard Zimmer received a Ph.D. in biological sciences from the University of California, Santa Barbara. As a Queen’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Marine Science, Dr. Zimmer spent the next two years working in the Zoology Department at the University of Queensland, Australia. He then returned to UC Santa Barbara as an Assistant Research Biologist in the Marine Science Institute. After four years, Dr. Zimmer moved to Alabama as Assistant Professor of Biology, and Senior Marine Scientist at the Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium. The University of Washington attracted him next, and he spent a year in the Friday Harbor Laboratories before moving to South Carolina. At the University of South Carolina, Dr. Zimmer joined the Department of Biological Sciences and Marine Science Program, and also the Baruch Institute of Marine Biology and Costal Research. In 1996, Dr. Zimmer moved to Los Angeles, joining the UCLA Department of Biology, and is currently Professor of Organizmic Biology, Ecology and Evolution. 

Dr. Zimmer’s research focuses on sensory biology, physiology and ecology of chemical communication. “Sensory perception of chemical signals influences many biotic interactions—predation, courtship and mating, kinship recognition and habitat selection. Although they are widely recognized as having critical importance, with few notable exceptions, mechanisms by which environmental chemical stimuli mediate ecological processes remain undescribed. The study of chemical communication systems presents a particular challenge. To meet this task, my laboratory is developing new instrumentation and analytical techniques for identifying the structures and concentrations of bioactive molecules while measuring their distributions over time and space scales relevant to chemosensory information processing. Through field and laboratory studies, we are devising new theories on chemical communication systems and their roles in mediating ecological interactions at cell, organism and population levels. Specific projects are currently focusing on a diverse assemblage of organisms (sea anemones, worms, snails and newts) and topics (metamorphosis induction, sperm attraction and to soluble egg factors, predator detection and prey escape, pheromone biosynthesis, and parasite/host recognition systems.” 

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


Nelly Amador is the recipient of the 2002 UCLA Alumni Association Outstanding Graduate Student Award. She is the first person in the history of the UCLA Alumni Association Awards to receive both the UCLA Outstanding Senior (1996) and the Outstanding Graduate Student Award (2002).

Dr. Allan Tobin is this year's recipient of the Staff Assembly's Faculty-Staff Partnership Award. This award was created to honor a UCLA faculty member who demonstrates the value of collaboration and collegiality by actively developing and encouraging faculty/staff partnerships. 

The award-winner is selected from faculty nominated by UCLA staff members, based on the following criteria: Commitment to the values of collaboration and collegiality as demonstrated by developing partnerships with staff; Career of service reflecting a strong commitment to the University's mission of teaching, research, community service, and patient care; Initiative, innovation, and creativity; Visionary leadership and significant accomplishments. Chancellor Carnesale and the Staff Assembly Board will present staff and faculty awards during a special ceremony. 

A warm congratulations to Nelly Amador and Allan Tobin!


The Joint Seminars in Neuroscience (JSN) series will resume October 1, 2002. The JSN Committee is rapidly filling the 2002-2003 academic year with exceptional speakers. Mark your calendars and plan to join us every Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. in the Louis Jolyon West Auditorium (C8-183 NPI).

PREVIEW 2002- 2003

Fall 2002 
Michael Kahana
Alberto Pereda 
Charles Zucker 
Michael Stryker 
Liqun Luo 
Rene Hen 
Pasco Rakic 
Robert Knight

Winter 2003
William Roberts 
David Sweatt 
Susumu Tonegawa 
Rudi Tanzi
Gord Fishell
Phyllis Hanson
Michael Shadlin 
Rosalind Segal

Spring 2003
Wolfram Schultz 
Kristin Harris 
Robert Sapolsky

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

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


Carol Moss Spivak Cell Imaging Facility Confocal Microscopy
For information, contact: 
Dr. Matt Schibler X59783 

Electron Microscopy and Specimen Preparation 
For information, contact: 
Brigitta Sjostrand X68054 

Microscopic Techniques and Histological Preparation 
For information, contact: 
Sharon Sampogna X59848 

Other Cores: 
Pasarow Mass Spectrometry Laboratory 

For information, contact: 
Dr. Kym Faull X67881 


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

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

Special features of the Bank are as follows: 

1). Serial digital images of coronal sections (7 mm thick and obtained before quick freezing) are available for selecting samples to be studied. 
2). Microscopic neuropathology is available on each dissected sample and the dissected sample's localization is sketched on the gross coronal section image from which it came.
3). Plaques of demyelination are classified as active, chronic active or inactive, and a shipment includes adjacent normal appearing white and nearby gray matter from the same case (they serve as a type of control). 
4). Ice artifact is minimized and it does not interfere with in situ hybridization or in situ PCR or immunocytochemistry. 
5). Tissue samples have been used for harvesting enough mRNA for microarray assay plates. 
6). CSF cells and cell-free CSF are available pre- and postmortem as is serum, plasma and buffy coats. They are stored quick frozen (full inventory is available upon request).

The Bank is supported by NIH (NINCDS/NIMH), the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles Healthcare Center.
For further information on tissues/CSF available and how to access them, contact: 
Wallace W. Tourtellotte, M.D., Ph.D. , Neurology Research (127A), VA West Los Angeles Healthcare Center, 11301 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90073, (310) 268-4638; fax: (310) 268-4638; E-mail:; web


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

Dr. Harry Vinters , Section of Neuropathology, UCLA Medical Center, CHS 18-170 , Los Angeles, CA 90095-1732; Phone: 310-825-6191; Fax: 310-206-8290;

Postdoctoral Positions
A postdoctoral position is available in the laboratory of Caleb E Finch at the USC Gerontology Center. Funded programs will investigate basic mechanisms in aging processes that underlie neurodegenerative diseases of aging. 
See recent articles: (1) Morgan et al (1999) The mosaic of brain glial hyperactivity during normal aging and its attenuation by food restriction. Neuroscience 89:687-99.
(2) Stone et al (2000) Effects of age on gene expression during estrogen-induced synaptic sprouting. Exp Neurol 165:46-57. (3) Klein et al (2001) Targeting small Aß oligomers: the solution to an Alzheimer's disease conundrum? Trends Neurosci 24:219-24. (4) Rozovsky et al (2002) Estradiol enhances neurite outgrowth by repressing GFAP expression and reorganizing laminin Endocrinology 143: 636-46;

A postdoctoral position is available in a laboratory in the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT. The laboratory’s long-term goal is an understanding of neuronal representations in primate inferotemporal cortex that underlie visual object recognition. Projects will be motivated by computational models of recognition and will employ single- and multi-site recording and stimulation in non-human primates trained in visual recognition tasks. Candidates should have completed a Ph.D., have a background in neuroscience or a neuroscience-related field, and strong computer skills. Training in neurophysiology and experience with non-human primates are highly desireable. This position is available immediately. Please forward a brief statement of research goals, CV, and names of three references to:

James DiCarlo, M.D., Ph.D. 
M.I.T., E25-242, 77 Massachusetts Avenue 
Cambridge, MA 02139

Health Scientist Administrator 
National Institute on Drug Abuse

Vacancy Announcement Number:
Series and Grade: GS-601-13/14
Appointment Type(s) Permanent
Tour of Duty: Full Time
Salary: $ 66,229.00 - $ 101,742.00
In addition to above salary, Physician's Comparability Pay, Recruitment Bonus, or Relocation Allowance of up to 25 percent may be paid.
Full Performance Level: GS-14
Opening/Close Date: 4/02/2002 - 07/29/2002
Organizational Location:
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research (DNBR). Genetics and Molecular Neurobiology Research Branch
Job Location: Bethesda, MD
Number of Vacancies: 1
Who May Apply: All qualified applicants may apply 
Description of Duties and Responsibilities:
The incumbent of this position serves as a Health Scientist Administrator in the Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, Genetics and Molecular Neurobiology Research Branch, an extramural program of the National Institue on Drug Abuse (NIDA). As such, the incumbent is responsible for the overall direction and administration of a broad and comprehensive program covering several areas of molecular biology and genetics research related to drug abuse studies. This includes administering research grants, training grants, fellowship grants, and research development contracts in these area; providing technical leadership to other personnel in the Institute, as well as to investigators throughout the country.
For more information e-mail:
or phone (301) 443-4577, Fax (301) 443-8908 reference Vacancy NIDA-02-0027.


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