Neuroscience News Winter 2003

Published by the UCLA Brain Research Institute 
WINTER, 2003 
Volume 12, No.1

Table of Contents


Two new members, Dr. Hugh T. Blair, Assistant Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology, and Dr. Juan Carlos G. Marvizón, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Digestive Diseases recently joined the Brain Research Institute.

Hugh T. Blair received a Ph.D. degree in behavioral neuroscience from Yale University in 1998. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Joseph LeDoux at New York University Center for Neural Science. In 2002, Dr. Blair joined UCLA’s Department of Psychology as an Assistant Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience.

Describing his current investigations, Dr. Blair states, “My research combines experimental neurophysiology with theoretical modeling to investigate basic principles of neural computation in the nervous system. I am particularly interested in understanding how learning alters nerve cells and synapses to form memories, and how these cellular changes are ultimately responsible for changes in behavior. The primary method that I use to address these questions in my research is to record neural activity from awake, behaving rats while they are actively engaged in learning tasks. For example, to study the neural basis of long-term memory storage, I record neurons from the hippocampus and amygdala during aversive conditioning tasks, because these brain structures rapidly store long-lasting memories of aversive events. To study short-term memory mechanisms I record neurons called head-direction cells from the anterior thalamus and limbic cortex because these neurons implement a simple short-term working memory circuit that maintains an online representation of the rats’ directional heading. Based on the results of these neurophysiology experiments, I try to develop computational models to explain how specific neural circuits participate in storing new memories, retrieving old memories, and making behavioral decisions.”

Juan Carlos G. Marvizón received a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Centro de Biología Molecular, Madrid, Spain, in 1985. Upon completion of his degree, Dr. Marvizón moved to Gennevilliers, France to join Pharmuka Laboratories as a researcher in the pharmaceutical company. In 1986, Dr. Marvizón was the recipient of a Fulbright and Fogarty Fellow, and joined the Laboratory of Neuroscience at the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disease, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland. In 1989, Dr. Marvizón returned to the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, and served as “Profesor Titular,” in the Departmento de Biología Molecular until coming to the United States in 1991. From 1991 to 1993, Dr. Marvizón served as research assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Southern California. Dr. Marvizón joined UCLA in 1994, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Digestive Diseases.

Describing his research interests, Dr. Marzivón states, “My research field is the neurophysiology of pain and analgesia, and the overall goal of my work is to investigate cellular and molecular mechanisms that mediate central sensitization in the spinal cord. Central sensitization, a process that underlies numerous chronic pain disorders, results in the long-term increase of nociceptive signals that reach the spinal cord and are then sent to higher regions of the CNS where they become conscious pain sensations. Recent discoveries have revealed the important role played by substance P and its receptor, the neurokinin 1 receptor, in mediating central sensitization. On the other hand, endogenous opioid peptides released in the spinal cord may be the natural way for the body to reverse central sensitization. I have developed a new methodology which measures the activation of neuropeptide receptors by their internalization. Most G protein-coupled receptors are internalized after agonist binding, and this internalization can be detected using antibodies against the receptor. Thus, if a given stimulus produces receptor internalization, it can be inferred that it has elicited the release of endogenous agonists that activate that receptor. In my laboratory we use electrophysiology techniques to deliver precise electrical stimulation to spinal cord slices or to live animals while performing intracellular and axonal recordings to monitor neuronal activity evoked by the stimulation. We have recently started to study animal behavioral responses to pain as well, using standard tests like the tail-flick test to measure analgesia. This multidisciplinary approach allows us to map the neuronal circuitry and characterize the pharmacological properties of the signaling systems that activate opioid receptors and substance P receptors in the spinal cord”

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



Russell Johnson, archivist for the UCLA Neuroscience History Archives and Louise Darling Biomedical Library, was elected to the post of Secretary in Women in Neuroscience (WIN); he began his two-year service in January, 2003. Information about WIN, an international organization promoting the advancement of women neuroscientists at all career levels, is available through its website:

Warm congratulations to Russell Johnson.


The Joint Seminars in Neuroscience (JSN) series will begin the Spring quarter March 25, 2003. Mark your calendars and plan to join us every Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. in the Louis Jolyon West Auditorium (C8-183 NPI).


March 25, 2003
Wolfram Schultz, Ph.D.

Department of Anatomy, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
“Reward Processing in the Basal Ganglia and Frontal Cortex”

April 1, 2003
Étienne Émile Baulieu, Ph.D.

INSERM, France
The Charles H. Sawyer Distinguished Lecture
“Title to be Determined”

April 8, 2003
To Be Determined

April 15, 2003
Elizabeth Gould, Ph.D.

Princeton University
“Title to be Determined”

April 22, 2003
Susumu Tonegawa, Ph.D.

Director, Center of Memory & Learning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
“Title To Be Determined”


April 29, 2003
Robert M. Sapolsky, Ph.D.

Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, and Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
“Stress, Neurodegeneration, and Strategies for Saving the Endangered Neuron”


May 6, 2003
Heinrich Betz, M.D.

Max-Lanck Institute, Frankfurt, Germany
“Title to be Determined”

May 13, 2003
Edvard I. Moser, Ph.D.

Centre for the Biology of Memory, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
“Memory Computations in Hippocampal and Parahippocampal Neuronal Circuits”


May 20, 2003
To Be Determined

May 27, 2003
Chris Cain

Interdepartmental Graduate Program for Neuroscience
The Eleventh Annual Samuel Eiduson Student Lecture
“Overcoming Fear: Behavioral Pharmacology and Physiology of Fear Extinction in Mice”


June 3, 2003
The UCLA Learning and Memory Symposium

A Full-Day Symposium
Registration Required:

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.


Seed Grants in Substance Abuse Research
The Center for Study of Opioid Receptors and Drugs of Abuse (CSORDA) will offer three Pilot Projects, of up to $20,000 for each project, in areas related to the basic science of substance abuse. Faculty seeking funding must be associated with UCLA. Funding will begin June 2003 and end May 31, 2004. (No carryover of funds can be permitted.)

At this time a single-page letter of intent is requested briefly describing the proposed research, so that a limited number of faculty can be selected to write a more extended proposal of no more than 5 pages for further consideration. The criteria for deciding funding will be the following: 1) scientific excellence; 2) relevance to substance abuse; 3) potential for initiation of collaborative projects with CSORDA faculty; 4) potential for obtaining independent funding; 5) relevance to the theme of CSORDA, which is "Mechanisms of Opioid Receptor Signaling and Relationship to Opioid Induced Behaviors." Please send letters of intent, no later than Monday March 17, 2003 to: Terry Novorr, Dept. of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, 760 Westwood Plaza, NPI - Box 77 (MC#175919), Los Angeles, California 90024. If you need additional information on the program contact either Chris Evans at 206-7884, or Nigel Maidment at 206-7767. Terry Novorr can be reached at 206-3436 and her e-mail address Information on CSORDA can be found at

Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Henry E. Singleton Brain Cancer Research Program at UCLA

JCCC’s Henry Singleton Brain Cancer Research Program at UCLA is providing a significant effort to support pilot projects through developmental grants that take maximum advantage of new research opportunities.

Singleton Developmental Grants are available for members of the UCLA community to support innovative translational research in all areas of investigation that impact brain cancer. Applications that promote multidisciplinary collaboration between basic, preclinical and clinical programs are particularly encouraged. Areas of special consideration will include animal models, stem cell research, imaging (in vitro and in vivo), and novel genetic/molecular evaluations. Junior investigators who are considering a career in brain cancer research will also be strongly considered.

The criteria for judging these applications will be: 1) scientific merit 2) translational potential 3) relevance to brain cancer 4) potential for collaborative research, and 5) qualifications of the investigative team to perform the proposed research. Strong consideration will also be given to individuals and groups without significant prior involvement in brain cancer research.

Grants of a maximum of $50,000 will be awarded for a one-year period. Additional research funding for a second year is contingent on progress in the first year but will be strongly considered. Funds can be used for technical support or supplies. This funding cannot be used to support the salary of the principal investigator or to purchase major items of equipment. Funding will start by May 1, 2003.

Application Process: Applicants must be UCLA faculty members. The application does not need a goldenrod and does not go through Sponsored Research. There are no specific forms. The first page should contain the name of the principal investigator with complete mailing address including campus mail code, phone and fax numbers and e-mail address and a half-page abstract that clearly states the hypothesis, its importance to brain cancer, the specific aims of the project, and the proposed experimental approach. Background, preliminary data (if any), proposed experiments, any other text, figures and references may not exceed 4 pages (12 pt font). If essential, attach no more than one relevant reprint or preprint. NIH-style Biosketches and Other Support must accompany the application. Ten copies of the application should be submitted by March 31, 2003 to Tim Cloughesy, MD, Henry Singleton Brain Cancer Research Program, RNRC Suite 1-230, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1738 (campus mail code 173818, phone 310-825-5321).



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


Postdoctoral Positions

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Brain Imaging of Substance Abuse
The Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA invites applicants to join a multidisciplinary research team using PET in studies of brain function related to drug abuse. The position (for 2-3 years) is available immediately and will focus on development and execution of studies on interactions of drugs of abuse with brain systems in rodent and nonhuman primate models. This position offers a rich academic environment and state-of-the-art equipment, including a MicroPET scanner. Candidates should have doctoral training in pharmacology, neuroscience, or experimental psychology. Experience in animal research is required. Knowledge of neuroanatomy, strong computer skills, and prior publications would be helpful. Contact Dr. Edythe D. London, Ph.D.


NIH-Funded Postdoctoral Position--Mechanisms of Neural Repair in the Brain and Spinal Cord
A postdoctoral position is available to study mechanisms of neural repair in the brain and spinal cord. Projects centered on neurotrophic factors are being pursued, involving molecular, cellular, and behavioral approaches. The paradigm is that trophic factors can be induced by the practice of select behaviors. Productive experience in molecular biology or biochemistry is desired. The successful candidate will become part of a major collaborative effort between basic and clinical neuroscientists to develop new approaches to repair the brain and spinal cord. Send resume to: F. Gómez-Pinilla, Ph.D., Dept. of Physiological Science., 621 Charles E. Young Dr., UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1527, E-mail:


Postdoctoral Positions in Ion Channel Biology at UCLA
A postdoctoral position is available immediately to study ion channel biogenesis, quality control, and trafficking. Trafficking of ion channels in cardiac myocytes and lymphocytes is of particular interest in this project. Methodology will include cell biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and electrophysiology. Prior experience in at least one of these areas is strongly preferred.

A postdoctoral position is available immediately to study the structural basis of voltage-dependent activation in ion channels. Structural interactions between the voltage sensor and pore domain will be identified using electrophysiological, biochemical, optical, and molecular biological approaches. Patch clamp experience strongly preferred.

Please forward CV and the names of three references to: Diane M. Papazian, Ph.D., Professor and Executive Vice Chair, Department of Physiology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles CA 90095-1751. Telephone: (310) 206-7043; Fax: (310) 206-5661; and/or visit their website at:



Replacement Faculty Position in Neuroscience

The Neuroscience Program at Oberlin College invites applicants for a full-time, non-continuing faculty position in the College of Arts and Sciences. Appointment to this position will be for a term of one year, beginning July 1, 2003.

The incumbent will teach either two different upper-level courses in neuroscience consistent with the candidate’s interests and qualifications or alternatively the candidate may teach one first year seminar course and one upper level course for majors. In addition, the candidate will develop and teach a laboratory course to accompany an upper level course. He or she is also expected to teach two sections of an introductory neuroscience laboratory. Applicants may have a background in any area of neuroscience. However individuals with expertise in neuroendocrinology, behavioral neuroscience, neurophysiology, or cognitive neuroscience are particularly encouraged to apply. He or she will be expected to participate in all typical faculty responsibilities, including advising student research and participating in scholarly and/or creative work appropriate to the position. This is an exceptional opportunity to improve one’s teaching credentials at a premier liberal arts college.

Among the qualifications required for appointment is the Ph.D. degree (in hand or expected by the first semester of academic year 2003). Candidates must demonstrate interest and potential excellence in undergraduate teaching. Successful teaching experience at the college level is desirable.

The Neuroscience Program at Oberlin College is one of the oldest and largest programs of its type to award an undergraduate degree in neuroscience. The Program’s extensive labs and facilities are housed in the College’s newly built science center. The Program emphasizes a broad interdisciplinary approach and encourages students to seek out research opportunities in both laboratory classes and in independent research.

To be assured of consideration, letters of application, including a curriculum vitae, graduate academic transcripts, and at least three letters of reference, should be sent to Dennison Smith, Director, Neuroscience Program, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio 44074, Fax number 440-775-8960. Application materials will be considered until the position is filled. Salary will depend on qualifications and experience.

Oberlin College is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer with a strong institutional commitment to the development of a climate that supports equality of opportunity and respect of differences based on gender, ethnicity, disability, and sexual orientation. In that spirit, we are interested in receiving applications from individuals who would contribute to the diversity of our faculty. For more information please



Hiroyuki Suzuki received a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience from UCLA in December, 2001. Hiroyuki would like to obtain a full-time research associate position in biomedical research. Education and relevant course work include: Cognitive Psychology; Neurogenetics; Basic/Cognitive Neuroscience; Psychiatric Disorder; Neuroanatomy; Immunology; Molecular Biology; and Biochemistry.

Hiroyuki’s full-time laboratory work in the Molecular Biology Laboratory in the UCLA School of Medicine/Dermatology includes: Isolation of human DNA from paraffinized tissue sections; Synthesis of cDNA including RNA handling from cultured cells; Plasmid preparation from bacteria; Recombinant cloning, restriction digestion, and DNA ligation; Transfection; PCR and primer design; Allele specific PCR; Agarose electrophoresis; Immunofluorescence/ histochemistry; Immunoprecipitation; Western blot; Cell culture of primary cells and cell lines; Mouse handling (IP injection, gauage, euthanasia); Working knowledge of flow cytometry, FACS, real-time PCR; Laboratory maintenance and purchasing; Supervision of undergraduate students.

Academic research experience in the Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, Winter 2001 includes: Familiarity to cDNA, PCR, and DNA data bank in DNA sequence/analysis; Data analysis of corpus callosum, visual field, and lexical decision by MRI images; Utilized cell cultures, bacterial plasmid, bacteriophage, and restriction enzymes; Knowledge of oscilloscope in the analysis of reflection and receptive field of crayfish; Practiced voltage clamp in oocyte K+/Na+ channel recording.

In the Biochemistry Laboratory , Winter 2000, experience includes: Isolated Lactate Dehydrogenase by enzyme/protein assays and characterized it; Operated spectrophotometer, affinity chromatography, gel exclusion chromatography, and SDS PAGE.

Hiroyuki Suzuki can be reached at (310) 264-8754; E-mail:


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

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

Special features of the Bank are as follows:

1). Serial digital images of coronal sections (7 mm thick and obtained before quick freezing) are available for selecting samples to be studied.

2). Microscopic neuropathology is available on each dissected sample and the dissected sample's localization is sketched on the gross coronal section image from which it came.

3). Plaques of demyelination are classified as active, chronic active or inactive, and a shipment includes adjacent normal appearing white and nearby gray matter from the same case (they serve as a type of control).

4). Ice artifact is minimized and it does not interfere with in situ hybridization or in situ PCR or immunocytochemistry.

5). Tissue samples have been used for harvesting enough mRNA for microarray assay plates.

6). CSF cells and cell-free CSF are available pre- and postmortem as is serum, plasma and buffy coats. They are stored quick frozen (full inventory is available upon request).

The Bank is supported by NIH (NINCDS/NIMH), the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles Healthcare Center.

For further information on tissues/CSF available and how to access them, contact:
Wallace W. Tourtellotte, M.D., Ph.D.
Neurology Research (127A)
VA West Los Angeles Healthcare Center
11301 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90073
(310) 268_4638; fax: (310) 268_4638
web site:


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


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