Neuroscience News Winter 2008

Published by the UCLA Brain Research Institute
Winter, 2008
Volume 17, No. 1

Table of Contents



    The Brain Research Institute welcomes its newest members, Dr. Jorge Barrio, Distinguished Professor and Elizabeth and Thomas Plott Chair in Gerontology, Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology; Dr. Arthur Brody, Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences; Dr. Jennifer Labus, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences; and Dr. Dwayne Simmons, Professor of Physiological Science.

    Jorge Barrio received a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1969. He then moved to the United States, accepting a research associate position at the University of Illinois. He returned to the University of Buenos Aires for one year as an assistant professor in the School of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, and in 1975 accepted a position as a visiting scientist in the School of Chemical Sciences at the University of Illinois. During this time, Dr. Barrio earned a second Ph.D. degree in chemistry. In 1979, Dr. Barrio joined UCLA and is currently Distinguished Professor and the Elizabeth and Thomas Plott Chair in Gerontology in the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology.

    “Our Alzheimer’s disease project on the design, development and use of molecular imaging probes with positron emission tomography (PET) is the most intriguing and exciting research in my laboratory. This work was preceded by many years of investigations on the biological mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease progression and the use of PET probes for early detection of the disease that in at least 50% of the cases is also associated with dementia. The development of a procedure to visualize the pathognomonic signs of Alzheimer’s disease, senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the living brain of these patients has shown high promise for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This work resulted in the first demonstration of detection of beta-amyloid plaques in the living brain of Alzheimer’s patients. A very detailed and comprehensive evaluation of the efficacy of this approach in humans was recently published by the New England Journal of Medicine. The intellectual origin of the amyloid marker for Alzheimer’s was entirely based on our earlier work, as was the development of PET diagnostic tools for measuring neuronal losses in Alzheimer’s. Since this project was initiated our laboratory has developed and synthesized almost 100 molecular imaging probe candidates for labeling beta-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles that are routinely first thoroughly tested in vitro and then in vivo in animals before human use. 

    The application of this very exciting and promising work in Alzheimer’s to other related dementias, e.g. detection of prion pathology in vitro and in the living brain of humans’ disease is an important area of continuing study. Other pioneering active work includes amyloid pathology visualization of Down syndrome patients and huntingtin aggregates in Huntington’s disease dementia with [F-18]FDDNP-PET. All this work in humans is supported by extensive basic science that includes a unique triple transgenic rat model of brain amyloid deposition. This model made possible the first demonstration of the presence of amyloid lesions in living animals using imaging techniques. Brain pathology determinations (to correlate scanning results to amyloid deposition) are also done in our lab with brain specimens of Alzheimer’s patients who have been scanned with [F-18]FDDNP. 

    If progress continues to occur in the treatment of cardiovascular disease and cancer – as it is expected to - industrialized nations will inescapably find an increase of dementias as the population lives longer. The result will be a devastation of the health care systems if no solution is found for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. I am of the firm conviction that the only possible successful pathway is to develop an integral approach that deals with all of the components of the disease including early diagnosis and new therapeutic interventions for prevention (or delayed progression). It is also essential to identify the underlying mechanisms of the disease to identify its causes. To that end we are currently also investigating a family of enzymes (e.g., sulfotransferases) related to inflammation and developing new imaging probes to assess their role in patients with Alzheimer’s. In collaboration with Professor E. Wright, UCLA Department of Physiology, we have developed PET probes for sodium dependent glucose transporters, involved in glucose homeostasis in the brain, most particularly in memory centers (e.g., highly expressed in hippocampus). These new targets are closely integrated with the current work on amyloid and neuronal targets and we are confident that they will provide a more complete understanding of disease mechanism and progression.”

    Arthur Brody received an M.D. degree from Tufts University School of Medicine in 1990. He completed both an internship and residency in the Neuropsychiatric Institute at UCLA.. Dr. Brody served as Chief Resident in the Affective and Anxiety Disorders Clinic at UCLA, and then served in both the community and at UCLA in several capacities including consulting psychiatrist, medical director and clinical instructor. In 1995, Dr. Brody joined UCLA as Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Associate Director of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Research Program. Dr. Brody is the Founding Director of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare’s Smoking Cessation Program, and is currently Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, and supervisor to the UCLA medical students, and NPI psychiatry residents. 

    Dr. Brody currently has several ongoing research projects examining brain function in cigarette smokers. “It has been demonstrated in laboratory animals that nicotine administration leads to an upregulation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the brain. With the advent of new radiotracers for positron emission tomography (PET) scanning, it is now possible to determine if cigarette smokers also have an upregulation of these receptors. We are working on a study of smokers, former smokers and non-smokers using PET scanning to determine if there is upregulation of these receptors and to examine the course of these receptor levels returning to normal levels. In a related study, we are also examining dopamine release in response to cigarette smoking. Specifically, while it is known that dopamine is released in response to nicotine administration, it is not known how much other components of cigarette smoking contribute to dopamine release. For this study, we are comparing dopamine release in response to regular cigarettes versus cigarettes that have the nicotine removed in order to determine the effects of components of smoking other than nicotine on dopamine release. In addition to these studies, we are examining the effects of treatment for smoking (such as group therapy and bupropion) on these brain functions as measured with PET scanning.”

    Jennifer Labus received a Master of Arts degree in applied health psychology from Northern Arizona University in 1997, a Master of Science degree in clinical psychology from Ohio University in 1998, and a Ph.D. degree in clinical psychology with specializations in applied quantitative and health psychology in 2002. Dr. Labus then completed a clinical internship in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Neurovisceral Sciences & Women’s Health at UCLA. In 2004 Dr. Labus was appointed in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences where she is currently an adjunct assistant professor, and concurrently a biostatistician for the neuroimaging core in the Center for Neurovisceral Sciences & Women’s Health.

    Dr. Labus’s research focuses on mapping the neural networks underlying stress neurobiology with specific emphasis on models of visceral and functional pain and brain-body interactions. “Specifically, I am examining altered central and autonomic nervous system processes in functional pain disorders, stress neurobiology, and the statistical methodology applied to interpret the complex data yielded by psychophysiological assessments such as fMRI, PET, acoustic startle response, and heart-rate variability. I recently received a K08 award from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to delineate the neural networks involved in visceral pain and GI function using network analysis. My research has shown activation of inhibitory cortico-limbic circuitry is associated with more effective descending pain inhibition. In collaboration with the Center for Neurobiology of Stress (formerly named the Center of Neurovisceral Sciences and Women’s Health), my research investigates sex-specific differences in the effective connectivity of emotional-arousal circuitry. My work also involves imaging genetics and I am currently examining group differences in the neural networks associated with variants of the function polymorphism in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) and the effects of acute lowering of 5-HT levels on engagement of a central arousal network involved in central pain amplification.”

    Dwayne Simmons received his Ph.D. degree in medical sciences (cell and developmental biology and neuroscience) from Harvard University in 1986. During the last year of his Ph.D. studies, Dr. Simmons was an assistant professor of biology in the Natural Science Division at Pepperdine University. Upon completion of his degree, Dr. Simmons also became a visiting research scientist at the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles. In 1990, Dr. Simmons joined UCLA as an Assistant Professor of Biology and in 1995 was appointed as Associate Professor of Physiological Science. Dr. Simmons also served as the undergraduate faculty advisor, and interim director of the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Program. In 2003, Dr. Simmons moved to the Central Institute for the Deaf and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. There he served as associate professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing, and research associate professor in the Departments of Otolaryngology, Anatomy & Neurobiology, and the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Simmons returned to UCLA in 2007 and is currently Professor of Physiological Science and the Director of the MARC Program.

    “Sensorineural hearing and balance disorders affect millions of people in this country. Understanding the development and aging of sensorineural connections within the vertebrate inner ear could lead to a better understanding of hearing and balance disorders. Research in my laboratory concerns the development and aging of synapses and sensory cells in the inner ear. Our studies use molecular and imaging techniques to characterize cholinergic neurons and synapses as they develop in both the rodent brainstem and inner ear. We also investigate calcium binding proteins and their role in the maturation and function of sensory cells. In order to study how sensory cells and neurons in the ear recover from damage, we use an amphibian model. In our studies of the frog inner ear, we use an in vitro culture system that supports both hair cell and neuronal regeneration to study how hair cells acquire, organize, and maintain their synaptic machinery.” 

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


    The BRI congratulates the meritorious achievements of Drs. Bill Go, Michael Phelps, and Desmond Smith, and Joe Watson.

    Vay Liang W. (Bill) Go, Professor of Medicine, and associate director of the UCLA-NIH Clinical Nutrition Research Unit, has received a five-year, $6 million grant form the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine to develop the UCLA Center for Excellence in Pancreatic Diseases. The new center studies the effects of plant-derived compounds on pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis.

    Michael E. Phelps, Norton Simon Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, received the 2007 Massry Prize for inventing the positron emission tomography (PET) scanner- the first technology enabling scientists to image the biology of disease in patients. Given by the Meira and Shaul G. Massry Foundation, the Massry Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to the biomedical sciences and to the advancement of health.

    Desmond J. Smith, Associate Professor of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, has been named by Scientific American magazine as one of the “Scientific American 50.” The publication’s sixth annual list, which appeared in the January 2008 issue, recognizes research, business and policy contributions worldwide to science and technology from the past year that have exceptional potential to improve society. 

    Joe Watson, Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, has agreed to serve as the BRI's first Coordinating Director of School Outreach. Under Joe's direction, the BRI will be expanding its K-12 science outreach programs. Outreach programs include Project Brainstorm (graduate neuroscience students) Interaxon (undergraduate neuroscience students) and the students from the Neuroscience Undergraduate Society (NUS) who conduct outreach activities in elementary, middle, and high schools; the NS195 course that trains UCLA neuroscience students to conduct school demonstrations; annual Brain Awareness Week demonstrations, activities and tours by school groups (now underway); and developing ongoing partnerships with local schools, including science fair support and coordinating a neuroscience summer placement program for high-school students.

    Warm congratulations to Drs. Go, Phelps, Smith, and Watson from the staff, students and faculty of the Brain Research Institute!


    The Joint Seminars in Neuroscience series will resume Spring quarter beginning April 1, 2008. 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
    Spring Quarter 2008

    April 1, 2008 
    Charles H. (Tom) Sawyer Distinguished Lecture 
    RAE SILVER, Ph.D. (Host: Art Arnold and the LNE;
    Helene L. and Mark N. Kaplan Professor of Natural and Physical Sciences, Department of Psychology, Barnard College and Columbia University; Program in Neurobiology and Behavior, Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Columbia University Medical School, New York
    “Emergent Properties of Neuronal Circuits: The Brain Clock as a Case Study”

    April 8, 2008 
    DAVID SULZER, Ph.D. (Host: David Krantz;
    Departments of Neurology, and Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical School, New York, New York
    “New Optical Methods for Studying the Synaptic Basis of Habit Learning”

    April 15, 2008 
    MICHAEL S. BRAINARD, Ph.D. (Host: Stephanie White;
    Departments of Physiology, and Psychiatry, Keck Center for Integrative Neuroscience, University of California, San Francisco
    “Source and Function of Behavioral Variation in Production and Plasticity of Adult Birdsong”

    April 22, 2008 
    FREDERICK M. RIEKE, Ph.D. (Host: Nick Brecha;
    Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Department of Physiology & Biophysics, University of Washington, Seattle
    “Origin of Correlated Activity Between Retinal Ganglion Cells”

    April 29, 2008 
    GORDON SHEPHERD, M.D., Ph.D. (Host: Carlos Portera-Cailliau;
    Department of Physiology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
    “Local Circuit Organization of Mouse Motor Cortex”

    May 6, 2008 
    JEREMY K. SEAMANS, Ph.D. (Host: David Jentsch;
    Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
    “The Cellular Ensemble Dynamics of Working Memory and Decision-Making in the Prefrontal Cortex”

    May 13, 2008 
    DARWIN K. BERG, Ph.D. (Host: Stephanie White;
    Neurobiology Section, Biology Division, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California
    “Nicotinic Control of Neural System Development” 

    May 20, 2008 
    The 16th Annual Samuel Eiduson Student Lecture
    WOJ WOJTOWICZ (Host: Michael Levine;
    Department of Biological Chemistry, University of California, Los Angeles
    “A Role for Molecular Diversity and Specificity in Wiring the Fly Brain”

    May 27, 2008 
    MARK J. SCHNITZER, Ph.D. (Host: Carlos Portera-Cailliau;
    Departments of Biological Sciences, and Applied Physics, Stanford University, California

    June 3, 2008 
    The Brain Research Institute Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in Neuroscience Lecture
    GREGOIRE COURTINE, Ph.D. (Host: Bernard Balleine;
    Experimental Neurorehabilitation Laboratory, University of Zurich, Switzerland
    “Regaining Stepping Capacities Following a Severe Spinal Cord Injury”


    The Seventh Annual
    Wednesday, June 4, 2008
    Neuroscience Research Building, UCLA
    8:30 am - 5:00 pm

    Welcome and Opening Remarks
    Alcino Silva, Ph.D., Departments of Neurobiology, Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, and Psychology, UCLA
    (Order of presentations to be determined)

    David Anderson, Ph.D., Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena
    James Bisley, Ph.D., Department of Neurobiology, UCLA
    Lisa Boulanger, Ph.D., Department of Biological Sciences, and Neurobiology, UCSD
    Roberta Brinton, Ph.D., Department of Phamacology & Pharmaceutical Science, School of Pharmacy, USC
    Larry Cahill, Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, UCI
    Anirvan Ghosh, Ph.D., Department of Biology, UCSD
    David Jentsch, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, and Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA
    Frank LaFerla, Ph.D., Department of Neurobiology & Behavior, Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, UCI
    Emily Liman, Department of Biological Science, and Neurobiology, USC
    Gary Lynch, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry & Human Behavior, UCI
    Robert Malinow, Ph.D., UCSD
    Li Zhang, Ph.D., Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, USC


    2009 McKnight Brain Disorders Awards 

    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 
    Examples of projects include but are not limited to studies aimed at: characterizing 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. Applicants should also explain how McKnight award support would permit new approaches and accomplishments toward the development of translational research. 
    Projects restricted to creating conventional mouse knockouts in candidate disease genes identified by association studies, or to broadly overexpress those genes, are discouraged. In addition, projects to perform genetic interaction screens on disease genes in model organisms (yeast, worm, fly) will not be considered, unless the project includes specific aims that investigate the disease relevance of any new genes so discovered, in human or mammalian model systems. 

    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. Collaborative and cross-disciplinary applications are explicitly invited. 

    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, faculty positions. 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. The PI's total laboratory funding (including PI and co-PI of all external grants) should be less than $700,000 in annual direct costs. The candidate's other sources of funding will be considered when selecting awards. 

    Selection Process 
    For an application form, please visit our website at, or email, call, or write the office of The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience. Fill out, print and submit the application form along with a two page description of what you propose to do and how your proposal relates to human disease. Please use single-spaced Arial 11 point font. The deadline for submission is April 1, 2008. 

    In late June, the selection committee will invite a small number of applicants to submit more detailed proposals, which will be due October 1, 2008. Funding begins February 1, 2009. Committee members are: Eric Nestler, Chair; David Anderson, Rob Malenka, Jeremy Nathans, Joe Takahashi, Chris Walsh, and Huda Zoghbi.

    Please send applications by mail or email 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

    Angelman Syndrome Foundation, Inc. (Asf) 2008 Call For Research Proposals

    Angelman Syndrome is a neurodevelop-mental disorder caused by a deficiency of the ubiquitin protein ligase UBE3A in the brain. The Angelman Syndrome Foundation (a 501c3 non-profit foundation) offers a small number of grants on an annual basis. The 2008 Call for Research Proposals has been announced in two categories. These are international competitions.

    2008 Call for Behavioral Research Proposals
    One-year grants up to a maximum of $80,000 will be awarded to support research aimed at identifying causative factors and/or identifying effective therapeutic interventions of difficult behaviors in individuals with Angelman Syndrome. Highest priority will be given to pilot projects to test new ideas in these two areas of focus. 
    The application deadline is April 1, 2008. Applications to this RFP are submitted in hard copy format.

    2008 General Call for Research Proposals
    One-year grants will be awarded for amounts up to a maximum of $100,000 for any research involving Angelman Syndrome. Highest priority will be given to pilot projects to test new ideas about pathogenesis and therapy of the syndrome. The application deadline is June 1, 2008. Applications to this RFP are submitted in electronic format via email.

    How To Apply
    The RFPs are posted on the ASF website and include the application instructions for each RFP. Prior to submission, all completed application packages are required to undergo a traditional review by the applicable OCGA Grant Analyst or DRA with the delegation of authority to submit and approve grant proposals on behalf of the UC Regents.

    Due Dates

    April 1, 2008
    Behavioral RFP Applications (hard copy format)
    June 1, 2008 - General RFP Applications (electronic format)
    For More Information
    Angelman Syndrome Foundation (ASF)
    4255 Westbrook Drive, Suite 216
    Aurora, IL 60504
    Eileen Braun, ASF Executive Director
    Joseph Wagstaff, MD-PhD, ASF SAC Chair
    Phone: (800) 432-6435 (Eileen Braun)
    Phone: (704) 382-6817 (Dr. Wagstaff)

    UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART)

    Pilot Funding Available for Researchers

    The UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART) invites applications for grants to fund pilot and/or feasibility studies for biomedical, epidemiological or behavioral research. This funding is made available through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE) program which funds the UCLA center. The UCLA CART is one of five ACE autism centers funded by NIH as part of a nationwide network of research programs. The UCLA center’s activities are wide-ranging and include the integration of clinical, imaging, genetic, and basic science research to create a synergistic milieu that maximizes the productivity of the participants and attracts other investigators to the field of autism. 

    The purpose of these awards is to foster interactions and interdisciplinary research projects in the basic and clinical areas of autism. Preference will be given to projects that are likely to lead to successful future funding (by R01-type awards, etc). Proposals addressing the mechanism and treatment of autism are encouraged. Projects can also build upon the UCLA CART’s mission and current research activities; descriptions of CART’s mission and research, including the previously funded pilot grants and this announcement are available at our website

    Funds are available to the UCLA academic community including new investigators, investigators from other fields willing to bring their research expertise to autism studies, and for investigators whose proposed research would constitute feasibility testing. Funds are not intended to supplement ongoing supported research of an established investigator. Postdoctoral fellows are eligible only if they have a UCLA appointment by August 1, 2008 and provide documentation of support of a faculty sponsor, confirmed space allocation and a UCLA appointment, each through the entire award period.

    Award Terms
    These pilot project awards are for one-year only and are limited to $25,000 (direct costs) per project. Funds will not be awarded for equipment costs or for salary or benefits for the principal investigator (or any study personnel who hold an academic appointment). An investigator is eligible only once for the pilot support unless the additional proposed study constitutes a substantial departure from the previous research. All applications involving humans or animals must have IRB approval at UCLA or an UCLA-affiliated institute before the funds will be released. The funding period for 2008 awards is August 1, 2008 – July 31, 2009.

    Application Guidelines
    The proposals must present a testable hypothesis, clearly delineate the question(s) being asked, detail the procedures to be followed and discuss how the data will be analyzed. Specifically, the proposals may be up to 5 pages and must include: Abstract (250 words or less), Specific Aims, Background, Preliminary Studies, Experimental Design and Methods, and Significance. In addition, the literature references should be attached along with the following NIH (PHS 398) standard forms: the investigator’s 2-page biographical sketch, detailed budget justification, and other outside funding support. If funded, the investigator also will need to provide a summary of the project in lay language and be willing to present their findings at CART lecture series and meetings. 

    Application Deadline: March 31, 2008 (5 pm) 
    Funding Amount: $25,000 per project
    Budget Period: August 1, 2008 – July 31, 2009 
    Please submit original plus 8 copies (and email the complete set of e-files) of your application on or before March 31, 2008 to:

    Candace J. Wilkinson, Ph.D.
    Semel/NPI Institute, 68-237
    760 Westwood Plaza
    Los Angeles, CA 90024
    If you have questions, you may contact Dr. Wilkinson at 310.825.9041 or e-mail:

    Center for Neurobiology of Stress 

    Pilot Funding Available for Research in Mind/Brain/Body Interactions in Stress-Related Disorders 

    The UCLA Center for Neurobiology of Stress invites applications for funding of Pilot and Feasibility Projects during the academic year 2008-2009. 

    Funding will be available for high quality interdisciplinary basic, translational or clinical research proposals addressing the neurobiology of disorders which are characterized by the interface of stress, pain and emotion, with an emphasis on sex-related differences. 

    Pilot Submission Timeline and Selection Process 
    1. Submit a one-page Letter of Intent (LOI) and full CV for review by e-mail by April 1, 2008 to Deborah Ackerman
    2. The Review Committee will evaluate letters of intent and invite selected investigators to submit full pilot proposals by April 15, 2008. 
    3. Full pilot proposals (10 double-spaced pages in length, NIH format) will be due by June 13, 2008. 
    4. Funded projects will begin August 15, 2008 through July 31, 2009. 
    Criteria for selection include: 
    1. Quality and originality of the proposed research;
    2. Eligibility and credentials of PI and Co-investigators (if included); 
    3. Relatedness to the Center themes and mission (interface of stress, pain and emotion, with an emphasis on sex-related differences).
    4. Use of at least one of the CNS Cores 
    5. Likelihood to lead to R01s (or equivalent level funding from extramural sources)

    Recipients of last year’s 2007-2008 CNS Pilot and Feasibility award are eligible to apply for a second year of funding.

    Complete application details may be found on the CNS website at

    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 announcement on


    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)

    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)

    * 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.


    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:

    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


    Molecular Biology Postdoctoral Scholar at UCLA 
    A three-year Postdoctoral Scholar position is available using molecular biology, gene targeting and transgenic methods to study the impact of ATP and astrocyte signaling on neuronal networks. The ideal applicant will have a strong background in mouse genetics. However, this position would also suit a skilled molecular biologist wanting to expand their skills and learn mouse genetics. The project is in the laboratory of Dr. Baljit Khakh in the Department of Physiology at UCLA.

    Interested candidates should submit an electronic application consisting of a letter, a curriculum vitae (including summary of research experience), and contact details of two to three referees to Dr. Khakh ( Informal enquiries are welcome.

    Neuroscience Postdoctoral Position at UCLA
    A postdoctoral researcher position is available to study the role of ATP signaling in mouse models of epilepsy. The ideal candidate will be experienced in one or more of the following methods; brain slice electrophysiology, immunocytochemistry, in vivo virus injections or molecular biology. The research will be carried out in the lab of Dr. Baljit Khakh, but will involve collaborations with Dr. Carolyn Houser and Dr. Tom Otis. For further information contact:
    Dr. Khakh (; Telephone 310-825-6258.

    Two Neuroscience Postdoctoral Fellow Positions, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
    Two Postdoctoral Fellow positions are available in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Harbor UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, CA. Applicants should be fluent in spoken and written English and have a Ph.D. or equivalent in neuroscience or related fields. Prospective candidates should be highly motivated and eager to extend their scientific knowledge in an interdisciplinary environment. 

    1) A minority postdoctoral position is available to study the development of appetite in rodent models. The successful candidate will participate in elucidating the neuroendocrine and molecular determinants of appetite programming after perinatal nutritional stress. Experience in with the following skill sets is highly desirable: animal behavior, stereotaxic surgery, immunohistochemistry, ELISA, RIA, real time PCR, tissue and cell culture methods. This position is specifically for underrepresented minority applicants as defined by the National Institutes of Health.

    2) A second postdoctoral position is available to study the developmental programming of the CNS circuitry that regulates appetite. The successful candidate will participate in electrophysiology studies using extracellular and patch clamp recording methods to record responses in cultured cells and rodent brain slice preparations. Previous training in intracellular and extracellular electrophysiology is required. Experience in a combination of the following skill sets is highly desirable: in vitro electrophysiological methods (manual whole-cell and single channel electrophysiology; slice recordings; native cell and tissue isolation and recording); tissue and cell culture methods. 

    Interested individuals should forward their CV (electronic applications are preferred) and names and addresses of 3 references to: Dr. Erin Keen-Rhinehart, Harbor UCLA Medical Center, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1124 W. Carson St., RB-1 Box 446, Torrance, CA, 90278, E-mail:

    NIH-funded Postdoctoral Positions Mechanisms of Plasticity and Neural Repair
    NIH-funded postdoctoral positions are available immediately for Ph.D. graduates to study mechanisms of plasticity and neural repair in the brain and spinal cord. Projects are centered on the effects of diet and exercise on cognitive abilities and neural repair, involving molecular and behavioral approaches. Productive experience in molecular biology or biochemistry is desirable.

    Send resume: 
    F. Gómez-Pinilla, Ph.D.
    Department of Physiological Sciences
    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.

    André Berner, Ph.D. completed his doctoral studies at the University of Leipzig, Germany. “My Ph.D. thesis dealt with protein glycation, and included a high volume of cell-culture work on neuronal cells. During my postgraduate studies I had the opportunity to develop my training in two internationally recognized scientific groups; first, at the University of Kentucky in the laboratories of Allan Butterfield and second, with Mike Mullan at the Roskamp Institute in Sarasota, Florida. My participation in the first group lead to the publication of the paper titled “Identification of AGE-modified Proteins in SH-SY5Y and OLN-93 Cells,” and I am currently writing a paper with data and results from the Roskamp Institute. My immediate goal is to continue my scientific development. I want to extend my knowledge and understanding about Alzheimer's disease and other aspects of neurodegeneration as part of a team which will have an impact in AD-research. Alternately, I am also fascinated by retinal neurons and would be eager to work on human ocular diseases. During the years I spent on my Master’s and Ph.D. degrees, I had the opportunity to acquire scientific experience in areas such as mice retina and brain anatomy, morphology and physiology, in addition to neurodegenerative diseases of the central nervous system, especially Alzheimer’s disease. Due to this fact, I am able and eager to put in practice my experience at a postdoctoral level; experience that also will allow me to enhance my knowledge in neuroscience and will permit me to design, perform, analyze and publish experiments as well as present posters, give related lectures and to write grants. I am searching for a position that would be a perfect fit. I am open to relocating for the right opportunity. I am sure that the combination of my experience, especially in retinal and brain anatomy, neuronal cell culture, cell biology, immunohistochemistry and mice handling will prove beneficial within a scientific team.” Details of Dr. Berner’s previous scientific experience are listed on his CV and available in the editorial office. To contact Dr. Berner please e-mail

    Kristen Rhodes is interested in volunteer research opportunities at UCLA. She is a first-year medical student at the Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University, and is planning to return to the Los Angeles area from the middle of May until mid-August. She is very interested in neurology and would like to participate in a research laboratory this summer. She is willing to volunteer on a project over the summer-- the area of the research (which disease/focus) isn't important, as she would like to use this opportunity to gain experience and to get a better idea of what she would like to investigate in the future. She has prior research experience in multiple sclerosis research at the M.S. Comprehensive Care Center at the Keck School of Medicine, and has also assisted in rheumatoid arthritis research at the UCSD School of Medicine where she earned her B.S. degree in biochemistry. She would like to gain experience because she will be conducting research as part of her career as a doctor. Please contact Kristen directly
    Xiao-Ping Sun, M.D., Ph.D. would like to obtain a research associate position at UCLA. Dr. Xiao-Ping Sun has been working in Dr. Alan Grinnell’s lab for several years, prior to which he worked with Elis Stanley at NIH and with Ian Parker at UC Irvine. He is a superb patch-clamp electrophysiologist and imaging expert. A list of preparations he has worked with and techniques utilized include: Brain slice preparations in mice; single cell preparations dissociated from neural, neuromuscular, lymphatic, cardio-vascular and intestinal tissues in invertebrate and vertebrate animals; primary co-culture of Xenopus embryonic motoneurons with skeletal muscle to study synaptogenesis and mechanisms of synaptic transmission; single-channel patch clamping (inside-out, outside-out and cell-attached modes) of chloride, calcium, ATP (P2X), and KCa channels; simultaneous whole cell patch clamping (conventional and perforated) of both presynaptic nerve terminals and postsynaptic cells, combined with flash photolysis and online fluorescent calcium imaging; spontaneous EPSC activities recorded from striatal neurons in mouse brain slices; single-channel and whole cell recording and data analysis using pClamp and Minianalysis software for assessment of ion channel kinetics, ionic selectivity, channel voltage dependency, EPSC activity and effects of modulators and drugs; intracellular calcium measurement using epi- and confocal fluorescent microscopes equipped with photodiode or high-speed CCD camera; image analysis and processing with Meta-Vue and Image J software; and pharmacodynamic evaluation of drug effects. Dr. Sun’s CV is available in the editorial office. To contact Dr. Sun, please e-mail:

    Kristen Carol Willeumier, Ph.D. received a Ph.D. in neurobiology, June 2007. Her dissertation title was “The Role of Parkin and the Ubiquitin Proteasome System in the Regulation of the Synaptic Vesicle Cycle.” She also received a Master of Science degree in neurobiology in 2004 and a Master of Science degree in physiological science in 2000 with a thesis entitled “Aromatase in the Brain of the Plainfin Midshipman (Porichtys notatus): Development and Regulation by Sex Steroids.” She also completed the Post Baccalaureate Medical Program at Loyola University of Chicago in 1996. Kristin is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Dr. Stefan M. Pulst’s Laboratory of Neurogenetics in the Department of Neurology, Cedar’s Sinai Medical Center. There she is “Continuing work in the parkin knock out mouse investigating the effects of how proteasome inhibitors influence synaptic transmission in homozygous, heterozygous and wild type mice. The aim is to determine whether a preclinical phenotype is present at the nerve terminal. I am currently working on writing a manuscript for publication on this data. 
    Kristin conducted doctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Felix E. Schweizer in the Laboratory of Neurophysiology in the Department of Neurobiology at UCLA. There she investigated the cellular mechanisms of synaptic vesicle recycling from rat hippocampal culture following inhibition of the proteasome.

    Kristin’s Master’s research was conducted in Dr. Barney Schlinger’s Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology in the Department of Physiological Science, UCLA. There she investigated steroid regulation of the aromatase enzyme in juvenile and adult Plainfin midshipman to determine its role in the development of secondary sexual characteristics (i.e. vocal motor behavior). Kristin’s’ CV detailing her research experience is available in the editorial office. Please contact Kristin directly at e-mail:

    Ali Zahmehr is a third year student majoring in Neuroscience at UCLA and would like to obtain a research position to gain experience. He may be willing to volunteer some time. “I would like to pursue a career in the field of medical research. My previous research experience was in the UCLA Laboratory of Neuroimaging. I am looking to find a research position in the field of neurological diseases to gain hands-on experience. My goal is to put knowledge into a single project and work closely with the professor working on a thesis.” Please contact Ali at e-mail; or by telephone at (949) 205-9808.


    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