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Neuroscience News Winter 2005
Table of Contents
· THE BRI WELCOMES NEW DIRECTOR CHRISTOPHER J. EVANS
Christopher J. Evans, Ph.D. has been appointed by the Dean of The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA as the new Director of the UCLA Brain Research Institute.
Chris Evans was born and educated in London, England. He moved to the U.S. in 1980 to complete postdoctoral research in the Nancy Pritzker Laboratory of Behavioral Neurochemistry in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Research at Stanford University School of Medicine, and remained there until joining UCLA in 1990.
Dr. Evans has always been an active participant in the BRI. He has served on numerous committees, and most recently served as Associate Director for Research (2002-2004) and also served as Acting Co-Director along with Dr. Michael S. Levine during 2004. Dr. Evans is currently the Stefan Hatos Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Director of the Hatos Center for Neuropharmacology, Director of the NIDA Center for Opioid Receptors and Drugs of Abuse, and Director of the Brain Research Institute at UCLA.
The BRI staff, faculty and students enthusiastically welcome Dr. Evans as BRI Director.
The Brain Research Institute welcomes its newest members, Dr. Mark Frye, Assistant Professor of Physiological Sciences, Dr. Robert Pechnick, Professor in Residence of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA, and Associate Director of Research in the Department of Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and Dr. Yvonne Sininger, Professor of Surgery, Division of Head & Neck Surgery.
Mark Arthur Frye received a Ph.D. degree in zoology from the University of Washington in 2000. He then completed postdoctoral studies at the California Institute of Technology as a postdoctoral scholar in bioengineering, and in integrative biology at UC Berkeley. Dr. Frye joined UCLA as an Assistant Professor of Physiological Sciences in January 2005. His laboratory is located on the second floor of the Life Sciences Building.
Dr. Frye’s research focuses on mulitsensory fusion, and sensory-motor integration. His investigations address the question, “How are flexible and robust animal behaviors orchestrated by the nervous system?” Different forms of this general question have occupied neuroscientists for decades. Great strides have been made toward describing the mechanisms of nervous system function, and the next challenge is to examine how the basic elements are integrated to produce complex behavior. The central goal of his research is to push forward our understanding of the physiological processes that enable animals to navigate through widely varying sensory landscapes. He focuses on insect model systems because they possess neural and mechanical specializations, such as exceptionally fast visual systems and uniquely powerful muscles, which highlight structure-function relationships. This makes these animals ideally suited for studying general principles of sensory-motor integration, biomechanics, and behavioral plasticity. Using techniques drawn from the fields of biology and engineering, he studies how the activity of sensory neurons, interneurons, and motoneurons controls wing motions, aerodynamic forces, and flight behavior. Currently, research in the lab is focused on visual, olfactory, and motor control of flight behavior in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.
Robert N. Pechnick received a Ph.D. degree in pharmacology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1982. He completed postdoctoral studies as a NIMH Fellow in the Department of Psychology at UCLA, followed by a NIH fellowship in the Brain Research Institute Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology, at UCLA. Upon completion of his fellowships, Dr. Pechnick was appointed as a research pharmacologist, and later appointed as Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at UCLA. In 1993, Dr. Pechnick moved to Louisiana to join Louisiana State University as Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Neuroscience. Returning to California in 2000, Dr. Pechnick was appointed Associate Director of Research in the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and in 2002 accepted a concurrent appointment as Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA.
Dr. Pechnick studies preclinical models of neuropsychiatric illness and drug abuse. “The research in my laboratory is focused on two aspects of neuropsychopharmacology: using animals models to understand the causes of and to develop new potential treatments for various forms of mental illness; and utilizing both in vivo and in vitro approaches to study the neuropharmacology of drugs of abuse. Primary goals include: characterizing the role of developmental insults (prenatal, neonatal and adolescence) in producing neuropsychiatric disorders; defining the involvement of cytokines and the HPA axis in depression; and determining the neurochemical mechanisms underlying the effects of nicotine, cocaine and phencyclidine (PCP), and the pathophysiological and neurochemical consequences of the repeated administration of these drugs. Experimental approaches involve studying the effects of the systemic and central administration of selective agonists, antagonists and antisense oligonucleotides, using transgenic animal models, utilizing viral-mediated gene delivery, and characterizing functional responses, as well as, changes in receptor subunit gene expression, neurotransmitter levels and neurotransmitter receptors after acute and chronic drug administration.”
Yvonne Sininger received a Ph.D. degree in speech and hearing science from the University of California, San Francisco (in conjunction with the University of California, Santa Barbara) in 1984. She then completed a one-year postdoctoral fellowship in the Electrophysiology Laboratory at the House Ear Institute. She remained at the Institute, over the next several years serving as a Research/Clinical Associate in the Electrophysiology Lab, Assistant Department Head of the Electrophysiology Lab, and Director of the Children’s Auditory and Research Evaluation (CARE) Center at the House Ear Institute. In 2002, Dr. Sininger joined UCLA as a Professor-in-Residence in the Department of Surgery, Division of Head & Neck Surgery.
Dr. Sininger’s research focuses on auditory system development and disorders. “I am involved in several areas of research currently. One project, funded by NIH, evaluates factors influencing auditory-based outcomes in infants and children with congenital hearing loss. This project will determine how factors such as age at intervention, degree of hearing loss, intensity of intervention, and audibility of sound, influence speech perception and production, as well as, language development. Another area of interest currently is asymmetry of auditory processes from the level of the ear to the level of the brain. Assessments of ear level and brainstem level functions in infants, shows that the auditory system provides an advantage to the processing of wide-band, rapid stimuli in the right ear and to tonal/sustained stimuli to the left ear. New research will focus on the interaction between peripheral and central asymmetries to investigate how lateralized auditory processing in the brain is developed, will investigate potential mechanisms of asymmetry at the level of the ear and will evaluate the capacity for central re-organization in persons with unilateral hearing loss. I am also working on electrophysiologic evaluation of hearing in various animal models involving auditory system impairment and in evaluation of Connexin 26 and 30 in infants and children with hearing loss.”
The Brain Research Institute is happy to welcome its newest members.
The Joint Seminars in Neuroscience series will resume Spring quarter beginning April 5, 2005. (There will be no seminar March 29, 2005.)
A number of outstanding speakers are lined up so mark your calendars and plan to join us every Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. in the Louis Jolyon West Auditorium (C8-183 NPI).
JOINT SEMINARS IN NEUROSCIENCE
April 5, 2005
April 12, 2005
April 19, 2005
April 26, 2005
May 3, 2005
May 10, 2005
May 17, 2005
May 24, 2005
May 31, 2005
June 7, 2005
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.
NIDA-Sponsored Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Brain Imaging of Substance Abuse
The Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA invites postdoctoral fellow applicants to join a multidisciplinary research team using PET and fMRI in human studies of brain function related to drug abuse. Positions allow work in nationally recognized substance abuse and brain imaging research programs. The two-year research training program, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Institutional Training Grant (T32), combines a core research methodology curriculum with hands-on training opportunities in an extraordinarily diverse group of research and clinical settings. Projects can be related to ongoing research by Drs. Edythe London and Russell Poldrack on the functional neuroanatomy and neurochemistry of inhibitory control, with links to the clinical neurobiology of tobacco and methamphetamine dependence. UCLA offers a rich academic environment and state-of-the-art imaging equipment. Candidates should have doctoral training in pharmacology, neuroscience, or experimental psychology. Knowledge of neuroimaging methods, strong computer skills, and prior publications are recommended. Interviews are being scheduled for positions starting in June or July 2005.
Applicants must be U.S. citizens or legal residents eligible for funding from a NIH training grant. Health insurance is available. Please mail or e-mail CV, proof of degree, three letters of recommendation, and statement of research interests to:
Training Program in Neurobehavioral Genetics
Postdoctoral positions are available at UCLA on an NIH-funded training grant for research relevant to neurobehavioral genetics. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. at the time of the application. Starting date is July 1, 2005. To apply send a letter of nomination from the faculty mentor, a brief (1-2 pages) description of research program, a NIH biosketch with list of publications, and two letters of recommendation by April 15, 2005, to:
Nelson Freimer, M.D., Program Director
For inquiries, please contact Dr. Freimer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Postdoctoral Fellowship in Photoreceptor Biochemistry
A research fellowship is available to study the visual cycle in vertebrate retinas. The broad goals of this project are to clone the mRNA’s and genes for enzymes involved in the processing of visual retinoids, to generate mice with a knockout mutation in each gene, and to study the function of the encoded proteins by analyzing the visual phenotypes in the knockout mice. The applicant will join a dynamic research group interested in basic mechanisms of vision and inherited retinal diseases. For more information visit the website:
www.biolchem.ucla.edu/Faculty/bc_faculty.CFM?FacultyKey=1597. Requirements include a Ph.D. in biochemistry or a related field. Send CV and the names of three references to: Dr. Gabriel H. Travis, E-mail: email@example.com.
Postdoctoral Fellow- Requisition: 0409186
A global leader in pharmaceutical R&D, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, LLC, develops treatments that improve the health and lifestyles of people worldwide. Research areas include psychiatry, gastroenterology, oncology, anti-infectives, central nervous system, hematology, diabetes, immunology/inflammation, and women’s health.
The postdoctoral candidate will conduct experiments on the mechanism of action of drugs that act on the central nervous system. Approaches will include molecular and biochemical strategies to develop assays focused on mechanism of action. An experimental interest in epilepsy is highly desirable. The candidate will maintain written records of work in the form of notebooks, technical reports and protocols.
Qualifications: Ph.D. in pharmacology, neuroscience, or related fields is required. Candidate should have a strong background in biochemical pharmacology. Experience in molecular biology, proteomics or enzyme kinetics highly desirable. Experience and interest in working on anti-convulsant projects is a plus. Good interpersonal communication and presentation skills are needed. It is essential that a candidate be self-motivated, organized, and possess strong scientific problem solving skills in order to excel in an environment fostering a cooperative team approach to science.
As a valued team member, you’ll receive a competitive salary and great benefits.
The Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies has a strong commitment to diversity and welcomes applications from all individuals.
McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience—2006 McKnight Neuroscience of Brain Disorders Awards (Letter of Intent Deadline April 15, 2005)
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 April 15, 2005. 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 3, 2005. Funding begins February 1, 2006. Committee members are: Larry Squire, Chair; David Anderson; Samuel Barondes; Charles Gilbert; Jeremy Nathans; Eric Nestler; Chris Walsh; and Huda Zoghbi.
Please send letters of intent to the following address:
The McKnight Foundation began supporting basic neuroscience research in 1977, in accordance with the wishes of its founder, William L. McKnight He was interested in diseases affecting the brain and memory, especially as a person ages.
In 1986, after 10 years of supporting investigators at different levels of neuroscience research, the Foundation established The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience as a permanent commitment to fundamental research in the field. In 2000, the Endowment Fund revised its awards program to take into account rapid progress in the field during the 1990s and to encourage neuroscientists, individually and in collaboration with other scientists, to explore new approaches to understanding the brain and its diseases.
The Endowment Fund makes three types of awards each year. In addition to the Neuroscience of Brain Disorders Awards, they are the McKnight Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Awards, providing seed money to develop technical inventions to advance brain research; and the McKnight Scholar Awards, supporting neuroscientists in the early stages of their research careers. For more information on the McKnight Foundation visit their website at: www.mcknight.org/neuroscience.
The Whitehall Foundation --Grants for Research in Neurobiology
The Whitehall Foundation is accepting applications throughout the year for grants to support basic research in neurobiology, especially on how the brain's sensory, motor, and other complex functions relate to behavior.
Candidates eligible for these grants include tenured or tenure-track professors at accredited American institutions.
Deadlines for letters of intent to apply are due by January 15, April 15, and October 1; the three deadlines for applications during the year are June 1, September 1, and February 15.
The total amount 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: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 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.
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.
Alzheimer's Disease Brain Tissue and CSF
The Neuropathology Laboratory at UCLA Medical Center maintains a bank of frozen, formalin and paraformaldehyde-fixed and paraffin-embedded postmortem human brain tissues and frozen cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from patients who die with Alzheimer's disease and other dementing and degenerative illnesses (including progressive supranuclear palsy, Parkinson's disease, fronto-temporal dementia), as well as control materials removed in a similar fashion from patients who are neurologically normal. Tissues are maintained as part of the NIA-funded Neuropathology Core functions of the UCLA Alzheimer's Disease Center. These tissues/fluids are available as a resource to investigators in any discipline. Pilot studies using the tissues/CSF to examine biomolecules that are of known importance in animal models and suspected significance in human neurodegenerative conditions are particularly encouraged. Every attempt will be made to provide research materials for worthwhile projects in a timely fashion. For further information on tissues/CSF available and how to access them, contact:
Dr. Harry Vinters
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.
Cynthia Aguilar is a graduating senior in the Department of Psychology Cognitive Science program. She has worked in research laboratories while completing her studies, and would like to gain more research experience before applying to graduate schools next fall. Her interests focus on the underlying structure of memory systems with a special interest in the way they collaborate to produce efficient learning. In her present position, Cynthia observes behavioral deficits demonstrated in tests performed by mice carrying Nf1 gene mutation. Responsibilities include editing computer monitored behavioral tests, injecting mice with pharmacology treatments, and providing proper animal care. In previous lab positions, her responsibilities included finding distinguishable differences in used memory structures depending on learning task being performed, recruiting and running subjects in a learning task, comparing that data with data obtained using fMRI scans, analyzing data using various statistical methods, and illustrating data results graphically to prepare for poster presentations. In another project, she aimed to find top-down processes involved in object recognition. She was involved in the experimental design, as well as, with writing the accompanying journal paper. Responsibilities included running subjects, organizing laboratory paperwork, and performing data analysis. Cynthia can be contacted directly by E-mail at:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Orit Gavrialov received a B.A. in biological sciences from Rutgers University in 1999. While completing studies, and after graduation Orit worked as a research technician. Most recently, Orit was a research technician in the laboratory of Dr. Gabriel Haddad at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Laboratory responsibilities included: overseeing all animal-related matters, including husbandry, genotyping, surgeries, and animal protocols; managing operations for all animal experimental procedures, including programming of Oxycycler (Biospherex) for exposure of animals to various gas environments, scheduling experiments, and compiling data; using Mainframe-to-Web based purchasing system to order equipment and supplies for laboratory of over 20 members; and maintaining over 30 computers, including networking, hardware and software issues. Orit recently moved to Los Angeles and would like to obtain a research technician position at UCLA, and be contacted directly at E-mail: email@example.com.
Erin McConocha is currently a pre-med sophomore majoring in molecular biology/biochemistry on a scholarship at Middlebury College in Vermont. She graduated from Santa Monica High School in 2003 and permanently resides in Los Angeles. She is looking for a summer internship (May 20- Aug 30) and would like to become involved with the UCLA Brain Research Institute. After college, she plans on entering an M.D./Ph.D. program, and hopes to pursue a career in neuroscience and biomedical research. She is thoroughly familiar with numerous laboratory techniques, including PCR, gel electrophoresis, immunohistochemistry, spectrophotometry, centrifugation, cell culturing, sub-cellular fractionation, NMR, IR and GCMS analysis, chromatography, TLC, distillation, crystallization and many other basic skills. She obtained laboratory experience through her general coarse load (lab courses she has taken or is currently enrolled in include Genetics and Evolution, Cells and Organelles, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Newtonian Physics and Basic Computer Science), through her position as a General Chemistry Laboratory T.A., which requires her to teach various laboratory skills and procedures to general chemistry students, and through an internship she had in high school in the lab of Dr. Ted Sarafian at UCLA, studying the effects of THC on ATP production and apoptotic pathways in lung and brain cells. She also has extensive experience with computers and programs such as Microsoft Excel. Erin can be reached directly at E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keith Rosenberg will receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Rochester in May 2005. He would like to pursue a career in molecular and developmental neuroscience. He has a wide-range of laboratory skills gained from research experience in numerous biology and chemistry labs at the University of Rochester, Johns Hopkins University, and Columbia University. He has additional experience in psychology research gained while studying judgment and types of motivation, and medical research experience obtained at Stanford University School of Medicine.
Other skills include expertise with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Photoshop, spreadsheet models, and Internet communications utilities. He has strong communication skills, especially working in design teams, the ability to explain complex scientific material in an easy-to-understand format, and problem solving skills, including the ability to analyze problem situations. He works well in a group setting, developed through his experiences at several universities. Keith can be reached directly at E-mail:email@example.com.
Kristen Wenrich received a B.S. degree in psychology and English from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. She is currently enrolled at Pepperdine University, and expects to receive a M.A. degree in psychology in 2006. Kristen recently attended a volunteer orientation at UCLA, and is interested in volunteering in a research laboratory. She is interested in the research of Parkinson's disease, as well as, the plasticity of GABA receptors, areas she has briefly studied. However, she is open to any area needing volunteer help and anxious to learn more about neurology, psychology, and neuroscience, and to gain laboratory experience. She is available Monday and Tuesday until 3:00 p.m., anytime on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and on Thursday until 6:00 p.m. To contact Kristen E-mail: Kristen.Wenrich@pepperdine.edu.
Editor: Linda Maninger