Neuroscience News Fall 2009

Published by the UCLA Brain Research Institute
Fall, 2009
Volume 18, No. 3

In this issue:

· BRI Welcomes Fourteen New Students to the Graduate Neuroscience IDP
· BRI Welcomes Seven New Members
· Congratulations!
· Mark Your Calendars (
· BRI Science Outreach Activities (
· Fellowships, Awards & Grants – Opportunities & UCLA T32 neuroscience training grants
· Core Facilities/Resources – Carol Moss Spivak Confocal Imaging Core moved to the CNSI
· Employment – Opportunities/Candidates


    Patrick Chen graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelors of Arts degree in biology with a concentration in neurobiology/ behavior where he studied the development of the mouse olfactory epithelium. His research interests include neurodevelopment and neural regeneration among many other topics.

    Leonardo Christov Moore received a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology with a concentration in cognitive neuroscience, and a philosophy minor from Duke University. He studied rat models of learning and insight, human auditory perception and social cognition. His current interests are empathy and imitation circuits in humans, and visual perception.

    Katy Cross graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology. After conducting research on the neural mechanisms of language in patients with dementia, she began the MD-PhD program at UCLA in 2007. Her research interests are in cognitive neuroscience, specifically in cognitive control and language.

    Adam Frank graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience and a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and philosophy of science. As an undergraduate, Adam conducted research on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of neurodegeneration in Drosophila. His current research interests include learning, memory, and cognition.

    Jon Heston earned his Bachelor of Science degree in neurobiology and behavior from the University of California, Irvine where he studied the neural mechanism of reward involved in cigarette addiction. Jon’s current research interest is in the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying learning and memory, particularly in invertebrate systems.

    David Ho graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Symbolic Systems, concentrating in neuroscience. At Stanford, he used a combination of computational modeling and experimental neuroscience (tetrode recordings in rat hippocampus and neocortex) to study learning and memory, sleep and dreams, oscillations in the brain, and neural plasticity.

    Ashley Kees received a Bachelor of Science degree in psychobiology from UCLA. Ashley's research interests include learning and memory, behavior, synaptic transmission, and neural circuits.

    Jason Moore graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science specializing in artificial intelligence and neural networks, and a minor in cognitive science. Jason's research interests include systems-level computational modeling of learning and memory in hippocampus, sensory systems, motor control, and applications of computational neuroscience to novel artificial intelligence algorithms.

    Wei Li received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computation and Neural Systems from the California Institute of Technology where he studied social implicit synchronization in game situations using dual EEG. Wei's research interests include functional neuroimaging and decision making.

    Sarah Madsen received a Bachelor of Science degree from UCLA with a double major in psychobiology and neuroscience. Her current research interests include using structural (MRI) and functional (PET) neuroimaging to investigate the human brain in large-scale studies (many subjects), with a focus on optimizing predictive methods for identifying early signs of neurodegeneration (Alzheimer's disease) in cortex and subcortical structures.

    Kelley O’Donnell received a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. John's College where she studied western classics. She went on to study behavioral neuroscience for two years at the NIMH, and is currently interested in studying neurodegeneration and neural repair.

    Anna Parievsky is returning to her alma mater after completing her Bachelor of Science in Psychobiology with a minor in Cognitive Science at UCLA. Her past research experiences include studying the role of the hippocampus on learning and memory, assisting with drug development of a novel class of antidepressants, as well as examining distinct forms of memories with the use of fMRI. Anna is currently interested in applying learning and memory research to neurodegeneration and developmental disorders.

    Derek Verley received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Santa Clara University where he also performed electrophysiological studies on the crustacean stomatogastric ganglion. His research interests then led him to the University of Washington where, as a research scientist, he studied post-traumatic epilepsy. Derek’s research interests include epilepsy, neuroplasticity and recovery of function following traumatic brain injury.

    Shayna Williams graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in neuroscience, completing a cellular and molecular tract. As an undergraduate she studied learned vocalization using songbirds as a model. Her research interests include vocal learning and speech-related pathology, sexual dimorphism, especially relating to rates of neurodevelopmental disease, and the mechanisms of hearing.


    The Brain Research Institute welcomes its newest members, Drs. Kevin (K.C.) Brennan, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Jamie D. Feusner, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, Adriana Galván, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Michael B. Gorin, Harold and Pauline Price Professor of Ophthalmology, and Human Genetics, William Grisham, Adjunct Professor of Psychology, Jin Hyung Lee, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, Bioengineering, Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, and Radiology, and Mayank Mehta, Associate Professor of Physics & Astronomy, and Neurology.

    K.C. Brennan received his M.D. degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. He then completed an internship in internal medicine at George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., followed by a residency in neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Dr. Brennan completed a fellowship in the Headache Research and Treatment Program and the Laboratory of Neuroimaging, Department of Neurology, UCLA. He was appointed Assistant Professor of Neurology in 2008 and currently serves as Associate Director of the Headache Research and Treatment Program, and Director of the Optical Imaging Group in the Laboratory of Neuorimaging.

    Dr. Brennan’s major areas of research interest are cortical spreading depression, and the basic mechanisms of migraine. “Our research focuses on wide-field imaging of disorders of the cerebral cortex in vivo. Our greatest interest is cortical spreading depression (CSD), a wave of neuronal and glial excitation which is thought to be the basis of the migraine aura. CSD is also intimately involved in the damage that occurs in stroke and brain trauma, and may be involved in the initiation and spread of seizures. An understanding of CSD has the potential to uncover the links between different types of cortical pathology, which in turn can increase our understanding of normal brain function. We use a variety of techniques including intrinsic signal imaging, fluorescence imaging, optical spectroscopy, and electrophysiology to study CSD and the disorders it affects.”

    Jamie D. Feusner received his M.D. degree from UCLA. He then completed both an internship and residency in psychiatry at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital, and additional training in psychotherapy at the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. Dr. Feusner completed a fellowship in psychopharmacology at the NPI and the Sepulveda Veteran’s Hospital, and also a fellowship in psychobiology research (neuroimaging) as a recipient of a NIMH National Research Service Award Institutional Research Training Grant award. Dr. Feusner was appointed Assistant Professor-in-Residence in the Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences in 2006 and is also currently Director of the UCLA Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Intensive Treatment Program, and Director of the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Research Program.

    Dr. Feusner’s major research interests are visual and emotional information processing in body dysmorphic disorder, and anxiety disorders. “The main focus of my current research is understanding the brain basis of perceptual distortions in body dysmorphic disorder and other body image problems using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), morphometric MRI, and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Specifically, our lab has investigated own-face and other-face visual processing, object processing, and the interactive effects of emotional arousal. Additionally, we use psychophysical experiments to test global and local processing and face processing. I am also collaborating on studies of several novel somatic treatments for anxiety such as fMRI-guided repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES).”

    Adriana Galván received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Weill Medical College of Cornell University. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior, and the Department of Psychology at UCLA. In 2008, Dr. Galván joined UCLA as Assistant Professor of Psychology in the developmental area.

    Dr. Galvan's research focuses on adolescent brain development. “Specifically, my work examines how changes in brain maturation during adolescence relate to adolescent behavior and decision-making. Research questions in the laboratory are addressed using a multidisciplinary approach, including behavioral, physiological, and neuroimaging (e.g. fMRI) methods. Recent work has examined developmental trajectories in neurobiological substrates underlying affect and cognitive control as they relate to risk-taking behavior. Currently, research projects address the role of social influence and peer pressure on decision-making and neural activity in typically developing children and adolescents. Another line of research examines functional brain development in adolescent risk-takers (e.g. adolescent smokers, methamphetamine-addicted adolescents) and in children with neuropsychiatric disorders.”

    Michael B. Gorin received an M.D. degree and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Pennsylvania. He then completed an internship in medicine in the UCLA School of Medicine, and a NSRA Postdoctoral Fellowship and a residency in ophthalmology in the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute. The following year he spent in London, England as a fellow in medical retina and genetics in the Retina Division of the Moorfields Eye Hospital. Dr. Gorin returned to the United States and was a Medical Officer in the Clinical Branch, Section on Ophthalmic Genetics and Pediatric Ophthalmology at the National Eye Institute, NIH in Bethesda, Maryland. In 1990, Dr. Gorin returned to Pennslyvania, this time to the University of Pittsburgh, and for the next sixteen years, served in numerous capacities including: Assistant through Professor of Ophthalmology (School of Medicine) and Department of Human Genetics (Graduate School of Public Heatlh); Interim Chairman for both Ophthalmology and Human Genetics; Senior Associate in the Center for Biomedical Informatics; Founding Director of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Human Genetics, Assistant Dean, M.D. Ph.D. Program Director, and Assistant Vice-Chancellor, Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences-Strategic Initiatives. Dr. Gorin joined UCLA in 2006 as the Harold and Pauline Price Chair in Ophthalmology, and is also currently the Division Chief of Retinal Disorders and Ophthalmic Genetics, and Professor of Human Genetics.

    Dr. Gorin’s areas of research interest are ophthalmic genetics, and the neurobiology of ocular pain. “The major emphasis of our laboratory studies since coming to UCLA has been focused on light associated allodynia (LAA), a condition in which pain arises from exposure to normal levels of light. This problem is especially relevant for translational clinical studies since avoidance of light exposure can seriously compromise one’s ability to function and quality of life. The pain can be a minor annoyance for some or so severe as to be totally disabling, forcing individuals to spend their days in near complete darkness. Sustained LAA is seen in a number of neurodegenerative conditions of the eye, including age-related macular degeneration and dystrophies predominantly involving cone photoreceptors. Certain medications, migraines and rarely, central brain lesions, can also be major causes of LAA. Dr. Anna Matynia and I are undertaking the first behavioral and molecular studies of the neural pathway and biological basis of LAA by characterizing mouse genetic and pharmacologic models of LAA in order to ultimately find new treatments that will not interfere with an individual’s ability to see. We seek to improve the quality of life for those individuals suffering from LAA, whether or not they are experiencing vision loss from their underlying eye disease. My ongoing research areas include the molecular genetics of hereditary eye disorders, particularly age-related macular degeneration (AMD), retinitis pigmentosa and Stargardt disease. I also investigate monogenic disorders such as hereditary retinal degenerations, glaucoma, cataracts and ocular syndromes. Other basic research areas include genetic modifiers of disease and ocular toxicities of systemic medications. Applied research interests include bioinformatics in clinical ophthalmic practice and research, new diagnostic technologies for retinal disorders and diabetic retinopathy.”

    William Grisham received a Ph.D. in physiological psychology from Bryn Mawr College. He was appointed Assistant Professor of Psychology at Rosemont College, and held a concurrent appointment as Collaborative Researcher at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. Dr. Grisham joined UCLA in 1991 as a postdoctoral research fellow in Dr. Art Arnold’s laboratory in the Department of Psychology. Beginning in 1996, he served as a lecturer and academic administrator in the Department of Psychology and the Interdepartmental Program for Neuroscience, and in 2008 was appointed Adjunct Professor of Psychology. 

    Dr. Grisham’s area of research interest is birdsong and sex differences in the brain. “I have a long-standing interest in sex differences in the brain. Most of my research has employed the birdsong system as a model. Specifically, research has focused on the differentiation of the birdsong system by manipulating hormones in early life and noting their consequences on subsequent brain development. Recently, my research has shifted to exploring morphological and gene expression sex differences in rodent brains using special genotypes that unconfound sex chromosome complement from gonadal sex. These special genotypes allow the comparison of XY mice with a testis versus XY mice that develop an ovary as well as the comparison of XX mice that develop a testis versus those developing an ovary. Thus, the effects of having an XY genotype or XX genotype can be examined independent of the gonadal sex. I am also intensely interested in neuroscience education and conduct pedagogical research in neuroscience education related to my NSF grant for publishing digital teaching tools in neuroscience (” 

    Jin Hyung Lee received a Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University, while also working as a research assistant in the Magnetic Resonance Systems Research Laboratory She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in electrical engineering at Stanford, and in 2007 she was appointed as a research associate at Stanford. Dr. Lee joined UCLA in 2009 as Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, Bioengineering, Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, and Radiology.

    Dr. Lee’s area of research interest is optogenetics, and functional and molecular brain imaging. She utilizes advanced imaging techniques for biomedical applications, neurosciences, and neural-engineering and MRI to develop novel image contrast strategies, and alternative image acquisition, reconstruction, and processing techniques.

    Mayank Mehta received a Ph.D. degree in quantum field theory from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in neural computation at the Hebrew University in Israel, at the University of Arizona, and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2003, Dr. Mehta moved to Brown University as an assistant professor. In 2006 Dr. Mehta was appointed as a member of the advisory board for the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience in Munich, Germany, and since 2009, he is also a visiting professor at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience in Trondheim, Norway. Dr. Mehta joined UCLA as Associate Professor of Physics & Astronomy, and Neurology in 2009.

    Dr. Mehta’s research interests are systems and computational neuroscience. His research addresses the following questions at the interface of systems and computational neuroscience. 1) How is information represented in ensembles of neurons? 2) How do the neural representations evolve with learning? 3) What are the cellular mechanisms responsible for the evolution of neural representations? 4) What is the role of brain rhythms in these processes? 5) How does sleep influence learning? To address these questions his laboratory measures the activity of ensembles of well isolated neurons using tetrodes and whole cell patch, from many hippocampal and neocortical areas simultaneously during learning and during sleep. Further they develop data analysis tools to decipher the neural activity patterns and field potentials. Finally, they develop computational models to explain these findings, relate them to underlying cellular mechanisms and make experimentally testable predictions. His past research has shown that there are very rapid and large changes in the activity patterns of hippocampal place cells with experience and his theoretical work shows that these changes could occur via the spike timing-dependent synaptic plasticity. Further, their work shows that neural oscillations play a key role in organizing the neural activity patterns to generate a temporal code that can facilitate synaptic plasticity and learning. Finally, their recent findings suggest that during sleep, the neocortical activity may inhibit the hippocampal output for brief periods, thereby pruning the memory traces from the hippocampus. Paradoxically, this could improve the signal to noise ratio between memories and improve behavioral performance on learning and memory. 

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


    The BRI congratulates the meritorious achievements of Drs. James Bisley, Dean Bok, Joseph Caprioli, Joseph Demer and Deborah Farber, Marie-Françoise Chesselet, William Melega, Ben Novitch, Tom Otis, Alcino Silva, Gabriel Travis, Arthur Toga, and Larry Zipursky.

    James Bisley, Assistant Professor of Neurobiology and Psychology, was the recipient of a McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience 2009 McKnight Scholar Award for his studies on “The Role of Posterior Parietal Cortex in Guiding Attention and Eye Movements.” The McKnight Scholar Awards are granted to young scientists who are in the early stages of establishing their own independent laboratories and research careers and who have demonstrated a commitment to neuroscience. The Endowment Fund seeks to support innovative research designed to bring science closer to the day when diseases of the brain and behavior can be accurately diagnosed, prevented, and treated. The McKnight Scholar Award recipients each receive $75,000 per year for three years. 

    The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) named Jules Stein Eye Institute and BRI Members Drs. Dean Bok, Joseph Caprioli, Joseph Demer and Debora Farber as Distinguished Fellows. This prestigious fellowship honors ARVO members for their accomplishments, leadership and contributions.

    Marie-Françoise Chesselet, Charles Markham Professor of Neurology, and Chair of the Department of Neurobiology, has been awarded a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences five-year center grant. Her research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases, with a particular emphasis on Parkinson’s disease. Together with Drs. Jeff Bronstein, Ming Guo, Beatte Ritz, David Krantz, Nigel Maidment and Michael Levine, Dr. Chesselet will study how environmental factors contribute to the cause of Parkinson’s disease.

    William Melega, Professor of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology is the recipient of a 2009 Award for Excellence in Education. Each year the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA honors exceptional educations with this award.

    Ben Novitch, Assistant Professor of Neurobiology, was one of four UCLA scientists to receive a basic biology grant given out by the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine to fund research that will uncover the basic mechanisms underlying stem cell biology. 

    Tom Otis, Professor and Vice Chair of Neurology, is the recipient of a 2009 McKnight Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Award from the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience for his studies on "Development of optical methods for monitoring voltage in groups of neuroanatomically defined neurons." Four scientists seeking to develop new technologies to advance the study of the brain were recipients of this award. Each project will receive $200,000 over two years. The McKnight Endowment Fund makes these awards annually to help scientists develop innovative research tools to learn about the brain and the diseases that affect it.

    Alcino Silva, Professor of Neurobiology, Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, and Psychology, recently received two awards. Dr. Silva was recognized for his contributions to molecular and cellular cognition through the Order of Prince Henry, one of the highest honors the Portuguese government bestows on private citizens. Alcino is also the senior award winner of the Roche Award for Translational Neuroscience, made to an established investigator in the field of translational neuroscience with a focus on neurodevelopmental disorders. The Silva laboratory studies learning, memory and its disorders, including cognitive deficits associated with aging, learning disabilities, and schizophrenia.

    Gabriel Travis, Professor of Ophthalmology, was awarded a multi-million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to support his work to translate basic science discoveries in stem-cell research into new therapies for age-related macular degeneration, which destroys the central vision of nearly one in three people over the age of 75.

    UCLA has been awarded more than $19 million in National Institutes of Health stimulus funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The largest of these, $1.9 million, went to the Laboratory of NeuorImaging directed by Arthur Toga. These funds will be used to buy a super computer to further work mapping the brain’s structure and function. 

    Larry Zipursky, Professor of Biological Chemistry, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Dr. Zipursky studies the molecular mechanisms regulating neuronal connections, using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism. Drosophila has some 250,000neurons that are precisely interconnected by millions of synaptic connections to form neural circuits. Dr. Zipursky’s research has clarified how these circuits form during development and has identified the specific molecular labels on the surface of different neurons that provide the basis for connection specificity.
    Warm congratulations to our members from the staff, students and faculty of the Brain Research Institute!



    The Joint Seminars in Neuroscience series will resume winter quarter, January 5, 2010. 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.

    Joint Seminars in Neuroscience 
    Winter Quarter 2010

    January 5, 2010 
    LAURENCE F. ABBOTT, Ph.D. (Host: Dean Buonomano;
    William Bloor Professor of Theoretical Neuroscience, Department of Neuroscience, and Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York
    Beyond the Edge: Computing with Chaotic Networks

    January 12, 2010
    JEFFREY S. MOGIL, Ph.D. (Host: Anna Matynia;
    Canada Research Chair in Genetics of Pain; E. P. Taylor Chair in Pain Studies, Department of Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    What’s Wrong with Animal Models of Pain?

    January 19, 2010 
    SAMER HATTAR, Ph.D. (Host: Anna Matynia;
    Department of Biology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
    Vision Beyond Image Formation: The Role of Melanopsin Cells in Regulating Mammalian Physiology

    January 26, 2010
    PAUL FAURE, Ph.D. (Host: Larry Zipursky;
    Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
    Millisecond Level Temporal Selectivity in Neural Circuits

    February 2, 2010 
    JEAN PIERRE CHANGEUX, Ph.D. (Host: Richard Olsen;
    Department of Neuroscience, Institut Pasteur & College de France, Paris
    The Acetylcholine Nicotinic Receptor: Allosteric Transitions Examined by Molecular Dynamics and X-Ray Crystallography

    February 9, 2010 
    ANTHONY HOLTMAAT, Ph.D. (Host: Carlos Portera-Cailliau;
    Department of Basic Neurosciences Medical Faculty, University of Geneva, Switzerland
    Experience-Dependent Structural Plasticity of Dendrites, Spines and Synapses in the Mouse Somatosensory Cortex

    February 16, 2010 
    TERESA NICHOLSON, Ph.D. (Host: Alvaro Sagasti;
    Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Oregon Hearing Research Center and Vollum Institute, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, Oregon
    In Vivo Imaging of Mechanosensitive Calcium Transients in Nascent Hair Cells

    February 23, 2010 
    JASON MACLEAN, Ph.D. (Host: Carlos Portera-Cailliau;
    Department of Neurobiology, University of Chicago, Illinois
    Imaging Cortical Circuitry Emergent Dynamics

    March 2, 2010 
    HONGJUN SONG, Ph.D. (Host: Yi Sun;
    Institute for Cell Engineering, Departments of Neurology and Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
    Intrinsic and Extrinsic Mechanisms Regulating Adult Neural Stem Cells and Neurogenesis

    March 9, 2010
    The Brain Research Institute Twenty-First Annual H.W. Magoun Lecture 
    (Host: Chris Evans;
    Title and Speaker TBD


    The BRI sponsors multiple scientific and educational outreach programs throughout the year for the greater Los Angeles community. Events include school visits, tours and demonstrations, Brain Awareness Week tours, and sponsoring prizes at the California State Science Fair. This year, BRI Director, Chris Evans, BRI Outreach Program Director, Joseph Watson, and a few neuroscience graduate students will participate in judging the presentations at the California State Science Fair. The BRI will present awards to junior and senior students from all over California for excellent science projects in all areas of neuroscience, from molecules to mind.


    The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience
    2010 McKnight Scholar Awards

    The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience supports innovative research designed to bring science closer to the day when diseases of the brain and behavior can be accurately diagnosed, prevented, and treated.

    The Endowment Fund, an independent charitable organization established by The McKnight Foundation, carries out one of the intentions of William L. McKnight (1887-1979), who created the Foundation. His personal interest in memory and its diseases led him to set aside part of his legacy to bring hope to those suffering from brain injury or disease and cognitive impairment. In 1986, after 10 years of supporting investigators at different levels of neuroscience research, the Foundation made a permanent commitment to supporting fundamental research in neuroscience by establishing The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience.

    The McKnight Scholar Award program gives promising young investigators in the early stages of an independent research career the opportunity for scientific development on important problems in brain science. Traditionally, successful candidates have held faculty positions for at least one year.

    The intent of the program is to support the commitment by a young scientist to a career of distinguished research that may exert a major influence on the study of the brain. Applicants for the McKnight Scholar Awards must demonstrate interest in solving problems in relevant areas of neuroscience, including the translation of basic research to clinical research. The award is designed to provide sufficient financial support to establish the recipient’s scholarly independence. The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience supports up to 18 investigators annually through the Scholar Awards. (For the names of previous recipients and their projects, click here.)

    Up to five McKnight Scholars each will receive three years of support, beginning July 1, 2010.

    Eligibility: Applicants must have the following: M.D. and/or Ph.D. degree; formal postdoctoral training completed at the time of application. A record of meritorious research in areas pertinent to the interests of the Endowment Fund. Not more than four years of experience in an independent/tenure-track faculty position (exceptions may be made to account for parental leave). Evidence of a commitment to a career in neuroscience. U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status. U.S.-based sponsoring institution, to which awards will be paid. 

    Applicants may not: Be employees of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute or scientists within the intramural program of the National Institutes of Health. Apply in more than two rounds of competition. Apply for continued postdoctoral support. Hold tenured positions or their equivalent. Hold another McKnight award. 

    Stipend and Expense Allowance: Scholars will receive $75,000 annually in 2010, 2011, and 2012, subject to an annual review of research progress. The sponsoring institution is responsible for fiscal management. The award does not provide institutional overhead or indirect costs.

    Filing of Scholar Award Application. Please email one PDF of the completed application to will be submitted separately). If you do not receive confirmation of receipt within a week of submission, please call Eileen at 612-333-4220.
    Download application and guidelines, PDF format (222 KB), or MS Word format (79 KB) on website. If you receive a pop-up password box, simply click "Cancel" to access and/or save the document. 

    Printed application forms and guidelines. Please call, email, or write the office of The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience.

    Completed applications must arrive no later than January 4, 2010.

    The McKnight Endowment Fund
    for Neuroscience 
    710 South Second Street, Suite 400 
    Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401

    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 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 announcement:

    T32/T90 Neuroscience Training Grants at UCLA

    A number of training grants offer support to neuroscience graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Appointments are generally made each year at the beginning of the project period, but can be made during the entire year. All inquiries and applications must be submitted by the faculty mentor. The BRI frequently sends out “Call for Nominations,” so please watch for announcements. Mike Levine is submitting a T32 program to fund 1st and 2nd year Neuroscience students across the IDP, Neurobiology and Psychology programs which if successful will increase cross-talk among our training programs. 

    Of note is that the BRI has recently instated a committee (The BRI Committee for Enhancement of Neuroscience Training Programs) to determine where the BRI can help in the operation and submission of NIH T32 grants. The Chair of the Committee is the BRI Associate Director for Research Dr Bernard Balleine and several new initiatives regarding program recruitment, faculty information databases and ethics training will be put in place during the coming months.

    T32/T90 Neuroscience Training Grants at UCLA

    Grant Number

    PI Name

    Project Title

    Number Pre/Post



    Arnold, Arthur

    Neuroendocrinology, Sex Differences, and Reproduction

    5 Pre
    2 Post



    Chesselet, Marie-Francoise

    Training Program in Neural Repair     

    2 Pre
    2 Post



    Cohen, Mark

    Comprehensive Training in Neuroimaging Fundamentals and Applications   

    5 Pre



    De Vellis, Jean

    Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities

    3 Pre
    5 Post



    Devaskar, Sherin

    Training in Neonatal and Developmental Diseases

    7 Post



    Dunkel Schetter, Christine

    Biobehavioral Issues in Physical and Mental Health

    3 Pre
    2 Post

    7/1 or 9/1


    Fanselow, Michael

    Training in Behavioral Neuroscience  

    3 Pre
    2 Post



    Feldman, Jack

    Training Program in Neural Microcircuits

    2 Pre
    2 Post



    Freimer, Nelson

    Training Grant in Neurobehavioral Genetics          

    4 Post



    Geschwind, Daniel

    Training Grant in Neurobehavioral Genetics

    4 Pre



    Glanzman, David

    Training Program in Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology

    4 Pre

    7/1-6/30 in 09


    Hinkin, Charles

    Neuropsychology AIDS Fellowship

    3 Post

    Start 7/1 thru 9/1


    Irwin, Michael

    Post-Graduate Training Program in Psychoneuroimmunology and Mental Disorders

    3 Post
    2 yrs



    Leuchter, Andrew

    Research Training: Psychobiological Sciences

    5 Post



    London, Edythe

    Training Program in Translational Neuroscience of Drug Abuse

    3 Pre



    Monbouquette, Harold

    Biotechnology Training in Biomedical Sciences

    5 Pre



    O'Dell, Thomas

    Cellular Neurobiology

    4 Post



    Rawson, Richard

    UCLA Drug Abuse Research Training Center

    2 Pre
    3 Post

    1 yr--Varies


    Tidball, James

    Training in Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Physiology

    4 Pre

    Oct 1
    1 year appt


    Travis, Gabriel

    Vision Research Training Grant

    6 Pre
    2 Post



    Bioscience Cores at UCLA (

    BRI Cores:
    Carol Moss Spivak Cell Imaging Facility*
    Confocal Microscopy
    For information, contact: 
    Dr. Matt Schibler X59783 (310-825-9783)

    Electron Microscopy and Specimen Preparation
    For information, contact:
    Marianne Cilluffo, x59848 (310-825-9848)

    Microscopic Techniques and Histological Preparation
    For information, contact:
    Marianne Cilluffo, x59848 (310-825-9848)

    * The BRI Carol Moss Spivak Cell Imaging Core has moved in with the Advanced Light Microscopy Core, directed by Shimon Weiss and Laurent Bentolila. After a decade of operation on the first floor of the Gonda, joining these two facilities will result in a technically sophisticated confocal core on campus with considerably up-graded equipment and increased capacity compared to our current facility. The facility will have enhanced capability for FRET, FLIM, FCS, 2-photon microscopy and small animal imaging (zebrafish, flies and C. elegans). This core is centrally located on the B floor of the new California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI) and will continue to be available to all faculty laboratories at UCLA. Dr. Matt Schibler who has admirably run the BRI core since its inception will continue to train users and run/maintain equipment in the new facility. For concerned regular users of the core please contact Matt if you require details of instrument availability in March and April; the exact date for completion of the move is not yet established. There should be little downtime since most of the new instruments are up and running. You may need to learn slight differences between the new confocals even though they run on the same software. At this time no increase in core usage fees is anticipated.

    Other Cores:
    Biopolymer Laboratory
    Peptide synthesis, amino acid analysis, Edman sequencing, mass spectrometry.
    For information contact:
    Margaret Condron x62088 (310.206.2088)

    Pasarow Mass Spectrometry Laboratory
    For information, contact:
    Dr. Kym Faull X67881 (310-206-7881)

    Research Resources Available:
    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

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


    Postdoctoral Position in Developmental Neurobiology Availalbe- Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute of University of Southern

    We are seeking a highly motivated postdoctoral fellow to join our research group at the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute of University of Southern California, Los Angeles. The institute provides excellent research facilities and a rich training environment in modern neuroscience. The successful candidate will employ a combination of molecular, genetic, and cell biological tools to address fundamental questions concerning branching morphogenesis in the nervous system. Areas of interests include extracellular and intracellular signaling, cytoskeleton regulation, and spinal circuit development. Applicants must have a recent Ph.D. with relevant publications in any of the following fields: neurobiology, molecular, cell, and/or developmental biology. Past experience with neuronal cell culture, molecular cloning, neuroanatomy, and live cell imaging is a plus. For more information, please visit our web site at If interested, please send curriculum vitae, a brief statement of past research accomplishments and career goals, as well as names of three references to:

    Dr. Le Ma
    Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute
    Keck School of Medicine
    University of Southern California
    1501 San Pablo Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90033

    NIH-Funded Postdoctoral Position Available

    A NIH-funded postdoctoral position is available immediately for a junior Ph.D. graduate to study mechanisms of neural plasticity and repair. Projects are centered on the effects of dietary factors and exercise on synaptic plasticity and cognitive abilities, involving molecular and behavioral approaches. Productive experience in molecular biology or biochemistry is desirable. Send resume to:

    F. Gómez-Pinilla, Ph.D.
    Department of Physiological Science
    University of California, Los Angeles
    Los Angeles, CA 90095-1527


    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 the editorial office at x56055.

    Taylor Haight is a recent graduate of the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program at Bryn Mawr College and has Bachelor of Arts degrees in psychology and cognitive science from the University of Virginia. As an undergraduate, she took a variety of neuroscience courses, including those on psychopharmacology and addiction, abnormal psychology, neuronal organization of behavior, and affective and cognitive neuroscience, as well as a year of coursework on research methods and data analysis. She has also been involved with a number of research laboratories in the psychology department at the University of Virginia. As an undergraduate research assistant she helped design and execute experiments, administered psychometric tests and EEGs, and organized resulting data. She also conducted her own project for which she performed background research, designed an experiment, collected and prepared data, and wrote a thesis paper. Through both course work and research experience, she has learned to read and analyze scientific and clinical papers. She also has laboratory experience in both biology and chemistry. In pre-medical coursework at Bryn Mawr College, she completed six semesters of laboratory work in biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry, and has experience using microscopes, culturing cells, staining tissue samples, and safely performing chemical reactions in the lab. She is currently looking for a research position in the field of neuroscience—and has many research interests, including cognitive aging and neurodegenerative diseases, mind-body interactions (particularly the effect of psychological well-being on health), and the genetic and neural correlates of psychological disorders. Taylor would like to obtain a paid position but would be willing to volunteer as well. Please contact Taylor directly via email; or by phone at (571) 723-7732.

    Zoe MacDowell Kaswan is an undergraduate student who is looking for experience working in a laboratory setting and is willing to volunteer to gain the experience. Zoe is currently attending a junior college, and excelling in all classes and plans to transfer to UCLA, with a proposed major is biology. Zoe is available on Monday after 4pm, and Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and the weekend any time after 10:00 a.m. You can contact Zoe at; phone (818) 681-2681.

    Tatjana Zogovic-Kapsalis has a BSc. degree in biology and is looking for a Research Assistant/ Laboratory Assistant Specialist position at UCLA. Tatjana worked most recently at UCSF as a Research Specialist in molecular & cellular biology in the laboratory of Dr. Leitman in the Center for Reproductive Studies in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Skills and techniques utilized include: Cell culture: maintain all cell lines we use in our mouse and human research, differentiations of different types of stem cells (human and mice, mesenchymal and embryonic) to neurons, osteoblasts, and other tissues. Molecular biology: Manage experiments with differentiated cells; prepare samples for PCR and all other analyses. Microbiology: Work with plasmids: transfections, transformations, Mini and Maxi preps. Other skills: Solid administrative, management, organizational and computer skills. Teaching: Teach students and new employees the lab techniques. Research skills: Human embryonic stem cell culture and differentiation; molecular biology of RNA & DNA with emphasis in gene profiling with microarrays. If interested, please contact candidate directly at:; cell phone (415) 321-9250.


    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,, or call extension 56055 or 55061.

    Editor: Linda Maninger