Neuroscience News Winter 2004

Published by the UCLA Brain Research Institute
Winter, 2004
Volume 13, No. 1

Table of Contents


Eight new members recently joined the Brain Research Institute. The BRI welcomes Dr. Joseph DiStefano, Professor of Computer Science, Medicine, and Biomedical Engineering, Dr. Neil Harris, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Neurosurgery, Dr. Chih-Ming Ho, Ben Rich-Lockheed Martin Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, and Director, Institute for Cell Mimetic Space Exploration, Dr. Larry Hoffman, Associate Professor of Surgery, Division of Head and Neck Surgery, Dr. Shuo Lin, Professor of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, Dr. Niranjala Tillakaratne, Associate Research Physiologist, Department of Physiological Science, Dr. Benjamin Wu, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, Materials Science and Engineering, and Advanced Prosthodontics, Biomaterials, and Hospital Dentistry, and Dr. Ming Wu, Professor of Electrical Engineering.

Joseph DiStefano received a Ph.D. degree in biocybernetics from UCLA. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship in endocrinology/nuclear medicine at the University of Rome, Italy, Dr. DiStefano returned to UCLA, and has held numerous appointments in the Department of Computer Science, the Department of Medicine, and within the School of Engineering. Dr. DiStefano is currently Professor of Computer Science, Medicine, and Biomedical Engineering In addition, Dr. DiStefano is currently the Chair of the Undergraduate Cybernetics Interdepartmental Program, Co-Chair of the Biocybernetics Subfield of the Graduate Biomedical Engineering Interdepartmental Program, and Chair of the Scientific Computing/Biomedical Systems Ph.D. field in the Computer Science Department. 

Dr. DiStefano has been directing the UCLA Biocybernetics Laboratory since 1966. “Research in the laboratory has always been interdisciplinary, involving integration of theoretical biomodeling and biosystems approaches, with experimental laboratory techniques in physiology, pharmacology and related biomedical fields. The pedagogy involves development and exploitation of the synergistic and methodologic interface between modeling and laboratory experimentation, with a focus on integrated approaches for solving complex biosystem problems from sparse biodata. Current projects and areas of research guidance include: Dynamic system modeling and simulation of receptor/cell signaling/trafficking mechanisms in cancer, diabetes, and hepatitis infection. Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of biomolecules and therapeutic agents, especially for optimal treatment of disease. Hierarchical modeling of neuroendocrine regulation of thyroid hormone metabolism and action, at neural, organ-system and molecular levels. Nonlinear mechanistic models of possibly chaotic behavior in neuroendocrine and cellular systems (e.g. is 'pulsatile' pituitary secretion 'chaotic'?). Model-based experiment-design techniques for optimizing experimental resources and strategies, and Monte Carlo and dynamic system simulation testing of bioexperiment feasibility (e.g. minimizing laboratory animal use). Web-based intelligent expert system software for online biomodeling, for biomodel discrimination, and for biodata processing (e.g. W3DIMSUM and W3McSim are on our website:”

Neil Harris received a Ph.D. in physiology from King’s College London, University of London, in 1991. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Cambridge, U.K., followed by a postdoctoral position in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the University of Florida. In 1995, Dr. Harris moved back to London, accepting a position as a Research Fellow in the Royal College of Surgeons Unit of Biophysics at the Institute of Child Health, University of London. During this time, he also served as Lecturer at the Sherrington School of Physiology at St. Thomas’ Hospital. In 1998, Dr. Harris was named the Merck Sharp & Dohme Fellow in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Cambridge, and in 2000 was appointed Principle Investigator and Group Leader in the Center for Brain Repair at the University of Cambridge. Dr. Harris joined the Division of Neurosurgery in the Department of Surgery, and the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center, in 2003. He is concurrently serving as a Senior Research Fellow in Neurosurgery in the Center for Brain Repair at the University of Cambridge Clinical School.

Dr. Harris is focused on both experimental and clinical areas of traumatic brain injury. “The major philosophy behind this work is based on investigating clinically relevant models of injury in order to improve our understanding of the clinical condition and how to treat it. Much of this experimental research is driven by findings within the clinic, and observations in the NeuroIntensive Care Unit. Consequently, the experimental designs that incorporate these studies have two general aims: to elucidate the pathophysiological mechanisms associated with the disease condition for potential therapeutic intervention and/or to determine the effectiveness of current clinical treatment protocols. Much of the experimental work on models of head injury, stroke and hydrocephalus has been formed based on using non-invasive imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging and micro positron emission tomography, thus continuing the philosophy of bridging clinical and experimental science. Continuing enthusiasm for this technology. many of my experiments are directly relevant to the clinical research at both a technical and scientific level. Many of the multi-modal monitoring techniques currently used to both acquire and analyze intracranial and arterial pressures, blood flow and microdialysis for patients, are also used in animal experimental designs that have attracted support and recognition throughout the world.”

Chih-Ming Ho received a Ph.D. degree from the Department of Mechanics and Material Sciences at Johns Hopkins University in 1974. Upon completion of his degree, he was appointed for one year as Associate Research Scientist at Johns Hopkins. In 1975, Dr. Ho moved to Los Angeles to join the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Southern California. Dr. Ho remained at USC until joining UCLA as Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in 1991. From 1993 to 1996, Dr. Ho served as Director of the Center for Micro Systems at UCLA, and in 1996 was named the Ben-Rich-Lockheed Martin Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. In 2001, Dr. Ho was appointed Associate Vice Chancellor for Research for Engineering and Physical Sciences in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, and in 2002, Dr. Ho also became the Director of the Institute for Cell Mimetic Space Exploration. In addition to his numerous appointments at UCLA, Dr. Ho was inducted as a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1997. The next year, he was elected as an Academician of Academia Sinica, which honors scholars of Chinese origin with exceptional achievements in liberal arts and the sciences. Additionally, Dr. Ho was elected Fellow of the American Physical Society, and of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Dr. Ho’s interests lie in controlling the position and motion of macromolecules, DNA/RNA, proteins and supermolecules for facilitating functional processes such as molecular recognition, biochemical reactions and self-assembly. “As these processes always take place in fluid flows, a key goal is the creation of nano-fluidic technologies to handle nanoscale molecules in microscale reactors. We recognize that a fundamental understanding of the interactions between intermolecular force fields and global forces provides the path for developing efficient nano-fluidic technologies. Ultimately, nano-fluidics form the backbone for a wide spectrum of bio-nano applications such as bio-molecule sensing, drug discovery and health maintenance.”

Larry Hoffman received a Ph.D. in physiology from the University of California at Davis in 1987. While completing his degree, he held appointments as a postgraduate researcher in the Department of Animal Physiology at UC Davis (1982-1985) and as an assistant research physiologist in the Department of Surgery, Division of Head and Neck Surgery at UCLA (1985-1989). Dr. Hoffman joined the Department of Surgery full-time in 1989 as Assistant Professor of Head & Neck Surgery and in 1993 also became a faculty member in the Undergraduate Interdepartmental Program for Neuroscience. Dr. Hoffman is currently Associate Professor of Head and Neck Surgery and active in the undergraduate neuroscience program.

Dr. Hoffman is interested in sensory neuroscience, particularly involving the vestibular system. “The research in my laboratory is focused upon questions concerning the coding of dynamic sensory stimuli, principally by the vestibular sensory epithelia within the inner ear. We utilize integrated strategies to investigate the tuning functions of individual afferent neurons that project from the semicircular canal cristae and utricle, and the factors (e.g. biomechanical, cellular, architectural) that contribute to these tuning characteristics. We are also very interested in how these lines of sensory information are handled within the central vestibular neuraxis, and are currently exploring the physiology-specific projections into cerebellar cortex. The newest projects in the laboratory include investigations of how vestibular coding may be modified or altered subsequent to changes in the ambient sensory environment, or following inner ear pathology. We have recently embarked upon an investigation of the role that natural stimuli play in shaping the dendritic architecture of vestibular afferent neurons in novel mouse models. We are very excited about the development of an international consortium of systems, computational, and biophysical neuroscientists dedicated to exploring issues of neurocomputation and processing of dynamic sensory inputs within the central nervous system.”

Shuo Lin received a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry from Boston University School of Medicine in 1991. He then completed postdoctoral training in the Center for Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1995, Dr. Lin was appointed Assistant Professor in the Institute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics at the Medical College of Georgia. Dr. Lin joined UCLA in 2001, and is currently Professor of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology.

Dr. Lin’s research is in the area of developmental biology. “We use genomic, transgenic and genetic approaches to study how lineage-specific cells are determined during embryonic development. Our choice of organism is zebrafish. We are focusing on mechanisms involved in lineage-specific gene expression and proliferation of neuronal and neuroendocrine progenitor cells. In addition, we are working on establishing zebrafish models for human neuronal degenerative diseases. Other projects in the laboratory include studying hematopoietic development, and developing new technology for zebrafish genetics.”

Niranjala Tillakaratne received a Ph.D. degree in biology from UCLA, and completed postdoctoral training in the laboratories of Dr. Allan Tobin and Dr. Reggie Edgerton. Since 1988, she has been engaged in research at UCLA to study the function and regulation of GABA-related molecules in GABAergic neurons in the brain and spinal cord during normal development and after injury. Currently Dr. Tillakaratne is an Associate Research Physiologist investigating the neuroplasticity of the spinal cord after injury and rehabilitation.

“Using neonatally spinal cord transected rats, we investigate the use-dependent plasticity of inhibitory signaling as well as the expression of immediate early genes associated with spinal and sensory neurons in response to rehabilitative training such as standing, and stepping. A robotic system is utilized to impose selective, well-controlled, and repetitive motor training in spinally transected rats. A combination of pharmacological, anatomical and biochemical approaches are used to gain insight into the physiological and molecular mechanisms of spinal learning.”

Benjamin Wu received a D.D.S. degree from the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in 1987. He continued his training and completed a residency in prosthodontics at Harvard University School of Dental Medicine in 1994. In 1998, Dr. Wu received a Ph.D. degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Wu laboratory focuses on the processing science, biomaterials structure-and biological performance relationship between biomaterials and cell behavior. “We recently showed that processing parameters can influence biomaterial structure, which in turn can have dramatically different effects on cell function, ranging from apoptosis to the induction of mature phenotypes both in vitro and in vivo. Current efforts are aimed at isolating the major signaling pathways responsible for the ‘tightrope’ on which cells exist within their microenvironment. We are also examining the control of processing parameters to control the structure and dimension of biodegradable microcapsules to promote regeneration of nerve tissues. A similar approach is taken to regenerate other tissues, such as ligaments, cardiac tissues, intestines, and cartilage. To meet diverse needs, research efforts are also devoted to the enrichment of our toolbox by creating novel processing technologies and developing new techniques to characterize cell-materials interfaces.”
Ming Wu received a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1985. While completing his studies, and for three years after receiving his degree, Dr. Wu worked as a research assistant in the Electronics Research Laboratory at UC Berkeley. In 1988, Dr. Wu joined AT&T Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, and stayed on the east coast until joining UCLA in 1993. Currently, Dr. Wu is a Professor of Electrical Engineering, Director of the Nanoelectronics Research Facility, and Vice Chair of Industrial Relations, Electrical Engineering Department. 

Dr. Wu’s research focuses on biophotonics, optics and photonics, and optical MEMS. “There are two biophotonics projects in my group. The first project utilizes optoelectronic tweezers (OETs), to manipulate cells. OETs are a new tool invented by my group. By utilizing a photoconductive surface, OETs enable trapping and moving of live cells with extremely low optical power (~ one micro-watt, about a thousand times lower than conventional optical tweezers). Because of the low power requirement, it is possible to perform massively parallel manipulation of cells by combining a digital light projector with a microscope. Single cell trapping using a ‘ring’ cage has been demonstrated recently. It is also possible to use OETs to control other cellular processes through light controlled electric fields. The second project involves MEMS endoscopic imaging devices. My group is collaborating with Professor Jim Fujimoto’s group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in building and developing endoscopic optical coherence tomography and microscopy (OCT and OCM). Recently, we have successfully demonstrated the first endoscopic OCT with two-dimensional lateral scanning capability. Three-dimensional images with axial resolution of 4 micrometers and lateral resolution of 13 micrometers have been achieved. In addition to these two projects, my group is also extensively involved in micro-optics research for communications and sensing applications.”

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


Allan J. Tobin, Director of the Brain Research Institute since 1995, retired from UCLA at the end of 2003. 
Dr. Gerald Levey, Dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, in his announcement about Allan’s retirement wrote, “Allan’s leadership over nearly three decades has helped to build UCLA's neuroscience and brain research programs into the finest in the nation. His skill and hard work as Director and as a valued faculty member are recognized and appreciated by all those who have had the pleasure to work with him.

“Under Allan’s leadership and relationship-building skills, the UCLA neuroscience community has done much to create a vibrant, stimulating, and productive environment across many campus disciplines. 

“Allan’s research has spanned diverse areas such as enhancing GABA action, promoting spinal cord repair, preventing diabetes, and devising cell-based screens for neurodegenerative disorders. After devoting more than 28 years of service to UCLA, however, Allan has decided to focus on a single challenge -- to find an intervention for Huntington's disease, the concern that brought him into neuroscience in the first place. 

“He will be leaving UCLA to work full-time with the High Q Foundation, an organization specifically created to find interventions for Huntington's disease. 
“Please join me in wishing Allan well on his new endeavor and in extending our thanks for his dedication and the contributions he has made to UCLA. He will be remembered as one of the most cherished and respected members of our faculty.”
In a recent press release, the High Q Foundation announced that Allan will be joining their team.

“The High Q Foundation announced today that Allan J. Tobin will join Ethan Signer as a Managing Director of MRSSI and Senior Scientific Advisor to the Foundation. Tobin and Signer will spearhead the Foundation’s scientific programs aimed at finding interventions for Huntington’s disease (HD).

“Tobin comes to the Foundation after recently retiring from UCLA, where he was Director of the Brain Research Institute and the Eleanor Leslie Chair in Neuroscience. Tobin was instrumental in bringing UCLA’s neuroscience and brain research programs into the top tier of such programs around the world. At UCLA, Tobin held appointments both in the Department of Physiological Science and the Department of Neurology. He was a devoted undergraduate teacher and a prize-winning textbook author. 

“Tobin has also played an important role in guiding the national neuroscience research agenda. He chaired the National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Strategic Planning Panel on Neurodegeneration in 1998 and 1999, which recommended new NINDS-sponsored programs for neurodegenerative disease research.

“Over a nearly 30-year research career, Tobin focused on understanding the action of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter that plays a key inhibitory role in neural signaling, including the control of movement and the suppression of seizures. His research into GABA processing and function has implications not only for HD but also for Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, type I diabetes, and spinal cord injury and repair. While continuing his basic science work, Tobin’s laboratory also took on applied research projects in areas such as suppressing seizures, promoting spinal cord repair, preventing diabetes, and devising cell-based screens for drugs that may be useful in treating neurodegenerative disorders. 

“Earlier in 2003, Tobin stepped down as Scientific Director of the Hereditary Disease Foundation (HDF). During his 24 years with HDF, Tobin guided the scientific work leading to the discovery of the genetic mutation that causes HD and the creation of cell and animal models. These discoveries fed an explosion of HD research, with hundreds of investigators joining the quest to understand, treat, and ultimately cure the disease. Upon his retirement from HDF, founder and chairman Milton Wexler commented that Tobin ‘has been a significant, central, key figure in every advance that we have made.’ 

“Tobin will bring his vast knowledge of the HD research field to help guide the High Q Foundation’s scientific efforts, develop strategies for moving HD research forward, and identify the individuals, companies, and agencies that are best positioned to exploit recent discoveries in order to vanquish the disease.

“The High Q Foundation was established in 2002 with the mission of bringing together academia, industry, governmental agencies, and other funding organizations in the search for HD treatments. The Foundation supports numerous projects related to Huntington’s disease, including basic research, a drug-discovery program, and clinical studies. MRSSI provides management services to the Foundation.”
The Brain Research Institute’s members, students and staff will miss Allan’s leadership. We extend all best wishes to Allan in his new position at the High Q Foundation.


Claude Wasterlain was awarded the "Ambassador for Epilepsy" award by the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) at the International Epilepsy Congress in Lisbon, October 2003. This award is given every other year to people who have made important scientific or social contributions to the international activities of the epilepsy community.
Warm congratulations Dr. Wasterlain.


The Joint Seminars in Neuroscience Spring quarter begins April 6, 2004. Mark your calendars and plan to join us every Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. in the Louis Jolyon West Auditorium (C8-183 NPI).

April 6, 2004
Charles Sawyer Distinguished Lecture
Fernando Nottebohm, Ph.D.
Rockefeller University Field Research Center for Ecology and Ethology, Millbrook, New York
“Discovery, Mechanisms and Significance of Neuronal Replacement in Adult Brain”

April 13, 2004 
Jonathan Flint, M.D.
Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, United Kingdom 
“Genetics of Anxiety”

April 20, 2004
Huda Akil, Ph.D.
Mental Health Research Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
“Searching for the Neurobiological Basis of Emotions and Moods”

April 27, 2004
Karen Davis, Ph.D.
Toronto Western Research Institute, University of Toronto, Toronto Western Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
“Neuroimaging of the Multidimensional Nature of Pain”

May 4, 2004
Gary Lynch, Ph.D.
Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, University of California Irvine, 

May 11, 2004
Miguel Nicolelis, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Neurobiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina

May 18, 2004
Nathaniel Heintz, Ph.D.
Investigator- Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Rockefeller University, New York, New York
“Genetic Analysis of Complex Mammalian Tissues: Molecules and Mechanisms of CNS Function and Dysfunction”

May 25, 2004
Venkatesh Murthy, Ph.D.
Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
“Activity-Dependent Long-Term Synaptic Plasticity”

June 1, 2004
The Fifteenth Annual H.W. Magoun Lecture
Allan Tobin, Ph.D.
MRSSI and High Q Foundation; Director, UCLA Brain Research Institute, 1995-2003; Professor Emeritus, Departments of Physiological Science, and Neurology; Scientific Director Emeritus, Hereditary Disease Foundation
“Impatience and Serendipity in the Fight Against Huntington’s Disease”

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.



The Center for Gene Environment Studies in Parkinson Disease (CGEP) at UCLA invites applications for pilot grants to foster innovative research in Parkinson’s disease. Three one-year awards of a maximum of $25,000 for one year will be made. Preference will be given to studies that address issues directly relevant to the mechanisms by which environmental toxins, in particular pesticides, and genetic alterations, in particular those leading to alterations in dopamine homeostasis and/or proteasomal function, may increase the risk of Parkinson disease. Applications from junior investigators and from investigators new to the field of Parkinson’s disease are particularly encouraged. Award recipients will be invited to join regular meetings of CGEP investigators to foster future collaborations. Applications should consist of a two page description of the research project, including a concise description of the specific aims, background and experimental design of the proposed study, a budget not to exceed $25,000, and a NIH format biosketch for the principal investigator. Request of funds for equipment will need special NIH approval. Applications should be sent electronically as a Word document in a single file to Marie-Françoise Chesselet, M.D., Ph.D., Center Director at: by April 26, 2004. Please direct all inquiries to Dr. Chesselet at the above address.


Two postdoctoral positions are currently available 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 and MUST be able to take the position before June 30, 2004. Only applicants who have obtained a M.D. or Ph.D. degree in or after 2002 are eligible. Appointments are for one year. To apply send a letter of nomination from the faculty mentor, a brief (1-2 pages) research program description, an NIH biosketch with list of publications, and two letters of recommendation by April 26, 2004, to:
M-F Chesselet, M.D., Ph.D., Program Director
Department of Neurology
UCLA School of Medicine
710 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095

For inquiries, please contact Dr Chesselet at: .



Fellowship/Seed Grants are available for members of the wider UCLA community to support innovative research in areas of gene therapy, including vector design and development, gene delivery and expression, and preclinical testing of gene therapy strategies. Applications that promote collaboration between basic and preclinical programs are particularly encouraged, as are those that explore novel gene therapy approaches and new areas of application. Proposals dealing with the application of gene transfer to purely scientific problems are not generally viewed favorably.

The program is not intended to support or supplement projects presently funded from other sources or to act as a continuing source of funds for any one laboratory. Investigators who have not been funded previously through this program will be favored. In all circumstances, the quality of the science and clinical applicability will be the deciding criteria.

The goal is to encourage both junior and experienced investigators to initiate projects that could eventually be integrated into a clinical gene therapy program in any field of medicine, and that could compete successfully for extramural funds in the near future. 

Grants of a maximum of $30,000 are awarded for a one-year period. They can be used to support a pre- or postdoctoral fellow or research assistant, or to purchase supplies or small pieces of equipment (less than $1,000). They cannot be used to support the salary of the principal investigator, to purchase major items of equipment, or other purposes.

Application Process: Applicants must be UCLA faculty members. There are no specific forms. The application does not need a goldenrod and does not go through Sponsored Research. The first page should contain the name of the P.I., a complete mailing address including campus mail code, phone and fax numbers and e-mail address and a half-page abstract that clearly states the problem, its importance to gene therapy, the specific aims of the project, and the proposed experimental approach. Background, Preliminary Data (if any), Proposed Experiments, and References should not exceed 4 pages. The application must be accompanied by NIH-style Biosketches, Other Support and Budget Pages, and one standard campus mail envelope with your campus mailing address and mail code on it (for notification purposes). Applications will not be funded until approval is obtained from the appropriate committees dealing with animals, radiation, human subjects, and hazardous materials. Ten copies of the application should be submitted by April 30th (start date July 1) to Dr. Graeme Dougherty, Dept. of Radiation Oncology, Room B3-109 CHS, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, 10833 LeConte Avenue, Los Angeles 90095-1714 (on-campus mail code 171415), phone (310) 206-8733.


2005 McKnight Neuroscience of Brain Disorders Award 
(Letter of Intent - Deadline: May 3, 2004.)
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 Neuroscience of Brain Disorders Award assists scientists working to apply the knowledge achieved through basic research to human brain injury or disease. Up to six awards are made annually, each providing $100,000 per year for three years.

Use of Award Funds: The Endowment Fund established the McKnight Neuroscience of Brain Disorders Award to help translate laboratory discoveries about the brain into diagnoses and therapies to improve human health. Examples of projects include (but are not limited to): using a model organism to study the function of disease genes; applying novel technology (imaging, genomics, proteomics) to achieve early diagnosis, or to identify the pathogenesis of a brain disease; applying principles of gene transfer, stem cell biology, and axonal growth to neural repair and to the recovery from brain disorders.

Eligibility: Candidates should be a scientist doing basic biological or biomedical research who proposes to apply his/her knowledge and experience to improve the understanding of a brain disorder or disease.

Investigators who are United States citizens or lawful permanent residents conducting research at institutions within the United States are invited to apply. Applicants must be in tenured or tenured-track positions. The award does not support graduate or postdoctoral research. Applicants may not be employees of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute or scientists within the intramural program of the National Institutes of Health. Funds may be used toward a variety of research activities, but not the recipient’s salary. Collaborative and cross-disciplinary applications are explicitly invited.

Selection Process: To apply, submit a two-page letter of intent explaining how McKnight award support would permit new approaches and accomplishments toward the development of translational research.

In your letter, please address the following questions: 1) What clinical problem are you addressing? 2) What are your specific aims? 3) How will the knowledge and experience you have gained in basic research be applied to improving the understanding of a brain disorder or disease? The letter should clearly describe how the proposed research will uncover mechanisms of brain injury or disease and how it will translate to diagnosis, prevention, treatment, or cure.

The deadline is May 3, 2004. Letters should not exceed two pages or 750 words. Please include the mailing and email addresses of the principal investigators and a title for the project.

The selection committee will invite a small number of applicants to submit more detailed proposals, which will be due October 1, 2004. Funding begins February 1, 2005. Committee members are: Larry Squire, Chair; Samuel Barondes; Fred Gage; Charles Gilbert; Jeremy Nathans; Eric Nestler; Carla Shatz; and Huda Zoghbi.

Please send letters of intent to the following address:
McKnight Neuroscience of Brain Disorders Award
The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience
710 South Second Street, Suite 400
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401


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 and other complex functions relate to behavior. 

Candidates eligible for these grants include tenured or tenure-track professors at accredited American institutions. 

Deadlines for letters of intent to apply are due by January 15, April 15, and October 1; the three deadlines for applications during the year are June 1, September 1, and February 15. 

The total amount to be awarded and number of awards is not specified, however, the amount of individual awards range from $30,000 to $75,000 each year for up to three years. 

View the full text of the announcement on the Foundation's web site:


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

Electron Microscopy and Specimen Preparation
For information, contact:
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
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


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 x56055.

Narmina Pashá graduated from UCLA in June 2003, with a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience. While completing her degree, Narmina worked as a research assistant in two laboratories, and has gained valuable experience. Most recently, she worked in the Cardiovascular Research Laboratory at UCLA, where studies were conducted on HIV cardiomyopathy and Alzheimer's disease. In this lab, Narmina worked with human and rat heart and brain tissues, performing various laboratory techniques, including immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, and tunnel staining. Narmina also worked in a laboratory where research focused on general anxiety disorder. In this laboratory, she collected data, met and interviewed subjects and organized study materials. Narmina is currently working as a tutor in a private school where she teaches science and math to a group of high -school students. She enjoys her job, but would like to gain more research experience to determine whether she wants to pursue a career in medicine, or scientific research. She considers herself very organized and a fast learner with good communication skills. She is also proficient with a number of computer programs including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Adobe (Acrobat, PhotoShop), Windows, etc. Narmina can be contacted by e-mail ( or by phone (310.413.9910).


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