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Neuroscience News Spring 2006
Table of Contents
· THE BRI WELCOMES FOUR NEW MEMBERS
THE BRI WELCOMES FOUR NEW MEMBERS
Ian Cook received a B.S.E. degree from Princeton and a M.D. degree from Yale, and then made a detour through training as a surgeon before coming to UCLA for his residency training in psychiatry at the Neuropsychiatric Institute. He served as C-L chief resident from 1993-1994, when he was simultaneously appointed as a Research Fellow in the NIMH's T32 program, "Psychobiology of Major Psychiatric and Psychosomatic Disorders," at the NPI. In 1996, Dr. Cook became an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences. Since then, he has served in many roles in the Semel Institute and Neuropsychiatric Hospital including Attending Psychiatrist on Adult and Geriatric Services, Associate Director of the UCLA Laboratory of Brain, Behavior, and Pharmacology, former Director of the Data Management Unit of the UCLA Alzheimer's Disease Center, Associate Director of the Office of Professional and Community Education at the Semel Institute, Director of its Academic Information Technology Core, and Chair of the Curriculum Committee for the Department of Psychiatry.
Dr. Cook's research projects fall into two primary areas: translational research developing practical biomarkers of treatment response in depression; and fundamental work examining neural system dysregulation in the pathophysiology of mood and cognitive disorders. "In the neural systems work, I am interested in examining effective functional connectivity in circuits linking prefrontal cortex, amygdala, fusiform, and hippocampal structures in healthy aging patients, and in patients with mood disorders or dementing illnesses, using data from EEG and from fMRI. These data are integrated with clinical data and neuropsychological performance measures in computational models to examine the role of subtle white matter damage to disconnection in these circuits. In the biomarkers work, I am developing clinically-practical measures of brain activity which are predictive of later responses to treatment, so that treatment management can be enhanced by physiologic guidance of medication selection (www.DepressionLA.com)."
Baljit S. Khakh received a Ph.D. degree from the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom in 1995. During his graduate studies, he also spent some time at the Geneva Biomedical Research Institute. Dr. Khakh completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Graeme Henderson at the University of Bristol, followed by a fellowship at the California Institute of Technology, working in the laboratories of Drs. Henry Lester and Norman Davidson, as a Wellcome Trust International Prize Traveling Research Fellow, and Senior Research Fellow in the Division of Biology. In 2001, Dr. Khakh returned to Cambridge, as Group Leader in the Division of Neurobiology at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. Dr. Khakh joined UCLA this past April as Assistant Professor of Physiology and Neurobiology.
Dr. Khakh’s major area of research interest is ion channels and synapses. “P2X receptors are plasma membrane ATP-gated cation channels. P2X receptors are widely expressed in the body, but their signal transduction pathways and physiological roles remain incompletely understood. The first major goal of our experiments is to understand in detail P2X channel gating, pore opening and ion conduction. To this end we use a combination of molecular biology, electrophysiology and imaging methods (FRET, TIRF, confocal). The second major goal of our experiments is to understand the physiological consequences of cellular ATP sensing by P2X receptors. For this aspect we use engineered P2X receptors with finessed properties, as well as electrophysiological and imaging studies in fresh brain slices.”
Albert Lai received both a Ph.D. degree in biomedical sciences, and a M.D. degree from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). While completing his studies, he was also the recipient of a Lucille P. Markey Fellowship from UCSD, and a Chapman Charitable Trust Fellowship from the Salk Institute in La Jolla. After receiving his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees, Dr. Lai moved to UCLA to complete a residency in neurology. Dr. Lai completed a neuron-oncology fellowship at UCLA, receiving support from the Gene Medicine Training Program. During this time, Dr. Lai gained skills necessary to care for brain tumor patients, and pursued research with Dr. Andrew Charles examining the role of Connexin43 in glioma migration. As a result of these efforts, Dr. Lai was awarded an American Brain Tumor Basic Research Fellowship. In 2005, Dr. Lai was appointed Assistant Professor In Residence in the Department of Neurology.
Aldons Jake Lusis received a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry and biophysics from Oregon State University. He completed his postdoctoral training at Roswell Park Memorial Institute in Buffalo, New York, and was then appointed as a Cancer Research Scientist in the Department of Molecular Biology. Dr. Lusis left New York to join UCLA in 1979 and is currently Professor and Vice Chair of Human Genetics, and Professor of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics, and Professor of Medicine.
Dr. Lusis’s research focuses on the genetic dissection of complex traits. “Of particular interest for our lab during the past several years has been the integration of genetics and expression array profiling to better understand the biological circuits involved in metabolic and other complex traits. Just as genetic loci contributing to traits such as adiposity can be mapped in crosses between different strains of mice using quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis, loci controlling transcript abundance can also be mapped. Correlations between the abundance of different transcripts, and between transcripts and traits, can be used to model biologic networks. Since all genetic variations in a genetic cross are due to DNA differences between the parental mouse strains, the interactions of genes in a network can be assigned direction, and causal interactions can be modeled. Our recent studies suggest that this approach can be used to predict key genes in various complex traits, including behavior.”
The Brain Research Institute is happy to welcome its newest members.
The BRI congratulates the meritorious achievements of Drs. Francisco (Pancho) Bezanilla, James W. Bisley, Mark Frye, and Ernest Wright.
Francisco Bezanilla, Hagiwara Professor of Neuroscience, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. This lifetime membership is one of the most eminent honors in the scientific community.
James W. Bisley and Mark Frye are two of six UCLA faculty members who are recipients of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship. Dr. Bisley, Assistant Professor of Neurobiology, studies the neural mechanisms underlying visual attention to understand how the brain decides where to look. Dr. Frye, Assistant Professor of Physiological Science, researches complex behavior in fruit flies. These insects have a brain the size of a poppy seed, yet outperform human-engineered machines. “By studying flies, we might someday learn how to build a better robot, or a faster computer, or maybe even understand something about the massive complexity of the human brain.”
Ernest Wright, Professor of Physiology, and Mellinkoff Professor of Medicine, has been named as the Faculty Research Lecturer for 2006-2007. This is one of the highest recognitions of excellence bestowed on a UCLA faculty member.
Warm congratulations to Dr. Bezanilla, Dr. Bisley and Dr. Frye, and Dr. Wright from the staff, students and faculty of the Brain Research Institute!
The Joint Seminars in Neuroscience series will resume Fall quarter beginning October 3, 2006. The Joint Seminars in Neuroscience Committee is currently lining up a number of outstanding speakers including Dr. Alex Kolodkin from Johns Hopkins University as our BRI Poster Session Distinguished Lecturer, Louis Ptacek from UCSF, Azad Bonni from Harvard University, and E.J. Chichilnisky from the Salk Institute. 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.
Love and Lust In Attachment: Neuro-Psychoanalytic Perspectives On Object Relations
Love and lust, passion and affection, are fundamental ways of relating. How can neuroscience inform psychoanalytic thinking on these essential matters, and how can psychoanalytic insight further neuroscientific research? Key questions include: How do the neural systems underlying love and lust overlap, differ, and finally integrate in the self, and in our lives? What of sexuality and non-sexual desire in everyday life? As intimacy emerges over time, do our passions wane, and what are the neural correlates of these changes? What about relationships where desire and affection appear disconnected? What is the intrapsychic relationship between libidinal urges and attachment needs, how do these change as a function of brain development, and how do they affect or determine our relationships with others? This congress will explore the ways in which these systems relate to each other, both neurobiologically and psychodynamically. Speakers include: Helen Fisher; Regina Pally; Jaak Panksepp; Allan Schore; Mark Smaller; Mark Solms and Stephen Suomi.
Optional Educational and Research Day: Friday 21st July (Registration is independent of the Congress) The Educational Day is comprised of lectures providing background knowledge on the topics of the Congress, and offered in parallel with presentations on current neuro-psychoanalytic research and poster presentations.
Further details: Paula Barkay, Int’l Neuro-Psychoanalysis Centre; fax +44 20 7443 9435; email:firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; or go to www.neuro-psa.org. Registration and fees are required.
The New Comparative Biology of Human Nature November 16-18, 2006
For much of the 20th Century, research in experimental biology, and especially in psychology and neuroscience, concentrated on a relatively few model organism species, which tends to emphasize the similarities between species and minimize the importance of difference. One result is that we have relatively little detailed information about how the human species differs from (or, for that matter, resembles) other species. Recently, as the number of model species used in molecular biology and genetics has proliferated, interest in comparative approaches to fundamental biological issues has grown. At the same time, researchers have begun to address the biological status of humans using novel genomic, neuroscientific, and behavioral methods. With respect to the human species, the most informative studies involve comparing humans to other primates, and especially to our closest relatives, the chimpanzees and other great apes. In addition to identifying similarities between humans and other animals, the investigations have begun to identify human-specific features of the brain and cognition, including a unique pattern of disease vulnerability. This colloquium examines the tension between model-organism and comparative approaches in the history of biology, and then considers recent findings related to the biological and psychological specializations of humans.
For program information and to register please visit the colloquium page on our website:
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is soliciting 2007 nominations for two fellowships; Sloan Research Fellowships and Sloan Industry Studies Fellowships.
Candidates for the Sloan Industry Studies Fellowships must hold the Ph.D. (or equivalent) in economics, management, engineering, political science, sociology, or in a related or interdisciplinary field, and normally must be no more than six years from completion of their most advanced degree as of the year of their nomination.
For both programs, special circumstances, such as a change of field, child rearing, military service, or a faculty appointment for less than two years, will be taken into consideration. For both programs, candidates in all eligible fields are normally below the rank of associate professor and do not hold tenure, but these are not strict requirements.
The size of the award is $45,000 for a two-year period, beginning in September of 2007. The funds can be applied to a wide variety of uses such as: equipment, technical assistance, professional travel, trainee support, or any other activity directly related to the Fellow's research. Expenditures must be approved by the Fellow's department chair and must be in accord with the policies of the institution.
2007 Sloan Industry Studies Fellowships--
Restriction: For both programs, funds may not be used to augment an existing full-time salary or for indirect or overhead charges by the Fellow's institution.
To Apply: The application procedure for both fellowship programs is described on the Sloan website and the sponsor's nomination forms may also be downloaded. There is no limit to the amount of eligible nominations that UCLA may submit. For both programs, candidates must be nominated by department heads or other senior scholars. Nomination forms and all supporting materials are due to the sponsor by the deadline dates.
Special Application Instructions: For each UCLA nominee to either fellowship program, a completed UCLA Goldenrod must be routed to OCGA along with two copies of the nomination package. This will facilitate the administrative process in the event of an award.
Application Due Dates: September 15, 2006 - Sloan Research Fellowships; October 15, 2006--Sloan Industry Studies Fellowships
Cure: Digestive Diseases Research Center--Special Call for Pilot and Feasibility Studies Applications.
The CURE Digestive Diseases Research Center invites applications for highly innovative projects in the field of Gastroenterology. The projects need to be of relevance to the overall CURE Research Program in gastrointestinal biology and neurogastroenterolgoy, with a special emphasis on receptor and signal transduction, brain-gut interactions, mucosal physiology, and mechanisms underlying digestive diseases. This special call is for new projects only. Proposed projects should lead to the submission of a NIH grant, VA Merit Review Application or related agency research support. Funding level awarded is for $20,000/one year.
Eligibility: (1) New investigators without current or past NIH or related agency research support as principal investigators (K awards not included as far as the new project is different from the currently funded), who are seeking to establish their own independent research program in a new area of research; (2.) Established investigators who want to pursue a new research direction in the field of Gastroenterology, which represents a significant departure from their funded research.
Applicants Must: Hold a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent degree and have at least 2 years of postgraduate research experience. Trainees who are recipient of an NRSA individual award (F32) or are supported by an institutional training grant (T32) are eligible only if they are in their last year of training.
Application Deadline: July 1, 2006; Starting Date: September 1, 2006.
Society for Neuroscience- Neuroscience Scholars Program
Each spring, the Society for Neuroscience accepts applications for its Neuroscience Scholars Program. This program is designed to enhance career development and professional networking opportunities for pre- and postdoctoral minority students in neuroscience.
The program, made possible through a grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), provides fellows with the following: Travel assistance to participate in SfN's annual meetings, including special program activities;
Fellows are selected according to the following criteria: Academic excellence; professional goals; research interests, and experience. Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Past fellowship recipients are not eligible to apply. Candidates are notified of the selection committee's decision in September. Application deadline: Monday, July 17, 2006.
The Society for Neuroscience is seeking members who are interested in becoming a mentor for our Neuroscience Scholars Program. As a mentor, you will inspire young scientists by meeting with them during the annual meeting and providing assistance throughout the year. Mentors will receive recognition for their efforts in Nexus, SfN's electronic newsletter, and at the annual meeting. For more information please contact.:
Neuroscience Scholars Program
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.
View the full text of the announcement on the Foundation's web site:http://www.whitehall.org/grants
Carol Moss Spivak Cell Imaging Facility
Electron Microscopy and Specimen Preparation
Microscopic Techniques and Histological Preparation
Postmortem Human Frozen Brain Tissue and Matched Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) and Blood are Available for Scientists to Search for Etiopathogeneses of Human Disease.
The Bank is supported by NIH (NINCDS/NIMH), the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles Healthcare Center.
Alzheimer's Disease Brain Tissue and CSF
Science Medicus, Inc.
A neuroscience postdoctoral position is available to investigate peripheral nerve signaling in several animal models. A degree in neurobiology or a related field and experience with in vivo peripheral nerve stimulating and recording are highly desirable.
Science Medicus, Inc. is an early stage biomedical device company located in Albuquerque, NM. Based on experience from systems biology, SMI has isolated neural signal patterns that are associated with many bodily functions. The company has been issued seven patents on its technology, and has additional patents pending.
Science Medicus is seeking motivated applicants eager to join the company and help it grow. Interested applicants should email resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the company can be found at http://www.sciencemedicus.com.
Raed Azzam is a medical student at the American University of Beruit and will be graduating in July, 2006. Before applying for a residency in neurology, Dr. Azzam would like to gain experience conducting neuroscience research. Dr. Azzam recently completed a 6 week elective rotation in neurology at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, and is will be available for 1-2 years beginning August or September. Dr. Azzam can be reached directly at: email@example.com
Mike Wenzhang Xie would like to obtain a SRA position. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in biological science and technology from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA in Human Genetics, Pathology and Physics where his responsibilities include: monitoring attachment, proliferation and apoptosis of cancer cells by SWNT devices; apoptosis of cancer cells, targeted epithelial cancer therapy and interaction of EGFR and SH2 domain in A431; mapping chromosomal deletion and loss of genetic mutations and polymorphisms of cancer cell lines by Affymetrix mapping assay chips.
From 2002–2003, he was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at UCLA where research aimed to: discover novel functions of the phosphatidylinositol metabolic pathway by chemical genomics screen with wormannin; study TOR pathway and rapamycin responses by chemical genomic profiling and cell arrays; and investigate chemical genomics and anti-cancer drug screening by cell array.
During his graduate studies in the Biochip Center of Tsinghua University he utilized microarray platforms including oligonucleotide array, cDNA array and protein array, investigated the expression profiling of cancer related genes regulated by NF-кB with human gene microarrays, and developed a protein array-based strategy for the detection of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) by the sandwich immunoassay on biochip.
Techniques and skills include: Molecular biology techniques, cloning, RNA isolation, PCR, plasmid isolation, RT-PCR, Southern/northern hybridization, genotyping, DNA labeling, PCR, plasmid purification, gel electrophoresis, transformation of bacteria, restriction digests, and ligation; Protein detection techniques, chromatin immunoprecipitations; Mammalian cell culture, ES cells, cancer cells, transfection and generation of stable cell lines.; Transformation: transfer plasmids with GFP genes into Hela, A431 and C2C12 cells; RNA/DNA extraction, DNA hybridization, genotyping, DNA labeling; Fixing cells, staining cells with dyes, using fluorescence microscope and handling human blood--fluorescence spectra of cancer patients and measurement of blood viscosity. Dr. Xie has two publications in PNAS.
Editor: Linda Maninger