Neuroscience News Winter 2007

Published by the UCLA Brain Research Institute
Winter, 2007
Volume 16, No. 1

Table of Contents



    The Brain Research Institute welcomes its newest member, Dr. Bennett Novitch, Assistant Professor of Neurobiology.

    Bennett Novitch received a Masters degree in medical sciences from Harvard Medical School in 1993 and a Ph.D. degree in biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology from Harvard University in 1998. He completed postdoctoral training in the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics in the Center for Neurobiology & Behavior at Columbia University and was appointed as an associate research scientist in 2002. In 2004, Dr. Novitch joined the University of Michigan Medical School as an Assistant Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology. This summer, Dr. Novitch will join UCLA as an Assistant Professor of Neurobiology.

    Dr. Novitch’s research interest focuses on neural development and neurogenesis. “A fundamental step towards understanding the organization and regenerative capacity of the vertebrate central nervous system is to determine how undifferentiated stem and progenitor cells with the potential to produce hundreds of distinct classes of neurons and glial cells generate specific 
    cell types in precise locations, constant numbers, and at defined times during development. Research in my laboratory aims to understand the process by which these stem and progenitor cells become committed to the production of each cell type, and in determining the mechanisms that control the appropriate cell division and expansion of each group of committed progenitors, as well as their eventual cell cycle exit and differentiation into mature neurons and glia. To study how this process works at a molecular level, we are focusing on the formation of three cell types, spinal motor neurons and interneurons, which control the movement of muscles in the body, and oligodendrocytes, which support the function of motor neurons. Our main objectives are to identify the extracellular signals in the developing embryo that instruct stem and progenitor cells to form these and other cell types in the central nervous system, to determine how these signals regulate the expression and activity of transcription factors within stem and progenitor cells, and to ultimately determine how these transcription factors control the division, differentiation, and identity of these cells.”

    The BRI is happy to welcome its newest member!


    The BRI congratulates the meritorious achievements of Drs. Carmine Clemente, Bruce Dobkin, and Paul Mischel.

    Carmine Clemente was presented by the national medical honor society Alpha Omega Alpha with the Robert Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award. These awards were established in 1988 to provide national recognition to faculty members who have distinguished themselves in medical student education. In the words of Dr. Gerald S. Levey, Vice Chancellor for Medical Science, and Dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, “Dr. Clemente is the consummate teacher, a great thinker, and a trendsetter. His focus on medical education is the thread that weaves all his endeavors and accomplishments together.” Dr. Clemente joined UCLA in 1952, was a former chairman of the Department of Anatomy, former director of the Brain Research Institute, and has been teaching basic anatomy to first-year medical students for more than 50 years. Although he “retired” in 1994, he has been recalled annually to continue preparing future generations of doctors.

    Bruce Dobkin, Professor of Neurology, and Medical Director of the Neurologic Rehabilitation and Research Unit, was presented with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his work in neurological rehabilitation research from the Prince of Donnersmark Foundation in Germany. The award ceremony was held in a 500 year old opera house. Dr. Dobkin, a world leader in the area of neurological rehab research, has been at UCLA for 30 years, and founded UCLA’s Neurological Rehabilitation and Research Unit 11 years ago.

    Paul Mischel, Professor of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine has been selected as the 2007 Farber Award winner for excellence in neuro¬oncology. The Farber Lectureship recognizes a promising new investigator who has achieved significant results early in his or her career. The honor includes an award of $10,000.

    Warm congratulations to Drs. Clemente, Dobkin and Mischel from the staff, students and faculty of the Brain Research Institute!


    The Joint Seminars in Neuroscience series will resume spring quarter beginning April 3, 2007. 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
    Preview Spring Quarter 2007

    April 3, 2007 
    The Charles “Tom” H. Sawyer Lecture Luis Garcia Segura, Ph.D., 
    Cellular and Molecular Neuroendocrinology Laboratory, Cajal Institute, Madrid, Spain (Host: Art Arnold and the LNE, BRI)

    April 10, 2007 
    Yadin Dudai, Ph.D.,
     Department of Neurobiology, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel (Host: Michael Fanselow)

    April 17, 2007 
    Peter Scheiffele, Ph.D.
     Department of Physiology, The Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, Columbia University, New York, New York (Host: Larry Zipursky)

    April 24, 2007 
    Bernardo Sabatini, M.D., Ph.D.,
     Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts (Host: Carlos Portera-Cailliau)

    May 1, 2007 
    Craig Montell, Ph.D.,
     Departments of Biological Chemistry, and Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland (Host: Ming Guo)

    May 8, 2007 
    Diego Contreras, M.D., Ph.D.,
     Department of Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia,, Pennsylvania (Host: Dean Buonomano)

    May 15, 2007 
    Henrique von Gersdorff, Ph.D.,
     Vollum Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon (Host: Nick Brecha)

    May 22, 2007 
    The Fifteenth Annual Samuel Eiduson Lecture Louisa Wang, Interdepartmental Graduate Program for Neuroscience, University of California, Los Angeles (Host: Michael Levine)

    May 29, 2007 
    David Berson, Ph.D., 
    Department of Neuroscience, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island (Host: Nick Brecha)

    June 5, 2007 
    The Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in Neuroscience Annual Lecture Bruno Blanchi, Ph.D.,
     Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA (Host: Bernard Balleine & Yi Sun)

    Dynamics of Neural Microcircuits Symposium

    A symposium on Dynamics of Neural Microcircuits will be held from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm on Thursday, May 17, 2007, in the Neuroscience Research Building Auditorium and foyer at UCLA. The symposium will cover a diverse range of levels and systems in neuroscience.

    Invited speakers include:
    Ed Callaway: Salk Institute 
    Gilles Laurent: Cal Tech 
    Bartlett Mel: USC 
    Tad Blair: UCLA 
    Carlos Portera-Cailliau: UCLA 
    Stephanie White: UCLA 
    Joseph Glykys: UCLA 
    Wenben Tan: UCLA

    Graduate students and postdocs from the UCLA Neuroscience community are invited to present posters. The poster session will be from 
    12:00 pm - 2:00 pm. Please send poster titles and authors to Eva Mellado (

    The Sixth Annual Southern California Learning & Memory Symposium Wednesday, May 30, 2007 Beckman Institute Auditorium California Institute of Technology, Pasadena

    Program Schedule

    Continental Breakfast

    Chair: Paul Patterson, Caltech Keynote I 
    Carla Shatz, Harvard Medical School


    Chair: Erin Schuman, Caltech 
    Synaptic function and plasticity 
    Tom O'Dell, UCLA 
    Don Arnold, USC 
    Shelley Halpain, Scripps 
    Oswald Steward, UCI


    Chair: Mary Kennedy, Caltech Brain systems and memory 
    Mark Mayford, Scripps Thanos Siapas, Caltech


    Michael Fanselow, UCLA
    Ralph Adolphs, Caltech

    Chair: Thanos Siapas, Caltech Keynote II 
    Martin Heisenberg, Biozentrum, Wurzburg

    General discussion

    This year, the annual Learning and Memory Symposium will be held at CalTech. The 2008 Learning and Memory Symposium will be held at UCLA. Please mark your calendars!


    Center for Neurovisceral Sciences & Women's Health --Pilot Funding Available for Research in Mind/Brain/Body Interactions in Stress-Related Disorders

    The UCLA Center for Neurovisceral Sciences & Women's Health ( invites applications for funding of Pilot and Feasibility Projects during the academic year 2007¬2008.

    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:

    a) Submit a one-page Letter of Intent (LOI) and full CV for review by e-mail to Deborah Ackerman (deborah.ackerman@ucla.eduby April 1, 2007
    b) The Review Committee will evaluate letters of intent and invite selected investigators to submit full pilot proposals by April 15, 2007; 
    c) Full pilot proposals (10 double-spaced pages in length, NIH format) will be due by June 15, 2007; 
    d) Funded projects will begin August 15, 2007 through July 31, 2008.

    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&WH Cores;
    5. Likelihood to lead to R01s (or equivalent level funding from extramural sources).

    Recipients of a 2006-2007 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 McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience
    2008 Mcknight Neuroscience of Brain Disorders Award

    The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience supports innovative research designed to bring science closer to the day when diseases of the brain can be accurately diagnosed, prevented, and treated. To this end, the McKnight Neuroscience of Brain Disorders Award assists scientists working to apply the knowledge achieved through basic research to human brain injury or disease. Up to six awards are made annually, each providing $100,000 per year for three years.

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

    Eligibility: Candidates should be a scientist doing basic biological or biomedical research who proposes to apply his/her knowledge and experience to improve the understanding of a brain disorder or disease. 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 candidate’s other sources of funding will be considered when selecting awards.

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

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

    The deadline is April 2, 2007. Letters should not exceed two pages or 750 words. At the top of the first page, please include: the principal investigator’s name, institution, mailing address, email, and a title for the project.

    The selection committee will invite a small number of applicants to submit more detailed proposals, which will be due October 1, 2007. Funding begins February 1, 2008. Committee members are: Larry Squire, Chair; David Anderson; Jeremy Nathans; Eric Nestler; Chris Walsh; and Huda Zoghbi.

    Please send letters of intent to the following address:

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

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


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

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

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

    Other Cores:
    Pasarow Mass Spectrometry Laboratory
    For information, contact:
    Dr. Kym Faull X67881


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

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

    1). Serial digital images of coronal sections (7 mm thick and obtained before quick freezing) are available for selecting samples to be studied.
    2). Microscopic neuropathology is available on each dissected sample and the dissected sample's localization is sketched on the gross coronal section image from which it came.
    3). Plaques of demyelination are classified as active, chronic active or inactive, and a shipment includes adjacent normal appearing white and nearby gray matter from the same case (they serve as a type of control).
    4). Ice artifact is minimized and it does not interfere with in situ hybridization or in situ PCR or immunocytochemistry.
    5). Tissue samples have been used for harvesting enough mRNA for microarray assay plates.
    6). CSF cells and cell-free CSF are available pre- and postmortem as is serum, plasma and buffy coats. They are stored quick frozen (full inventory is available upon request).

    The Bank is supported by NIH (NINCDS/NIMH), the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles Healthcare Center.
    For further information on tissues/CSF available and how to access them, contact:

    Wallace W. Tourtellotte, M.D., Ph.D.
    Neurology Research (127A)
    VA West Los Angeles Healthcare Center
    11301 Wilshire Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA 90073
    (310) 268_4638; fax: (310) 268_4638
    web site:

    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


    Research Technician (2 positions available)

    Two research technician positions are available at the West Los Angeles VA.

    A research group is looking for two full-time research technicians to join an expanding research group in pre-clinical movement disorder projects in (essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease). The first research position will concentrate on in vitro cell culture work. The second research position will concentrate on pre-clinical rodent work (mouse/rat handling, injections and some surgery). Qualified candidate will possess a science related background and/or a good mechanical aptitude. The technician position will work under direct supervision of Ph.D. level laboratory supervisor.

    Requirements: B.S. in the life sciences; laboratory experience is a plus.

    Perspective applicants should submit a resume and list of 3 references to: Dr. Arnulfo Quesada at email:

    Postdoctoral Position Available UCLA Multiple Sclerosis Program

    A postdoctoral position is available immediately (April 1, 2007) in the UCLA Multiple Sclerosis program. Job responsibilities include investigating conduction deficits in brain and spinal cord slices of: EAE (experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis) and cuprizone¬induced demyelinating mice.

    Candidates must have experience of electrophysiological techniques such as patch clamping or acute brain slice recording.

    Requirements: Doctoral degree in neuroscience or related field, a solid background in whole-cell patch-clamp and extracellular recording.

    Candidates should submit curriculum vitae including summary of past accomplishments, research experience, publications and three reference letters to:

    Seema Tiwari-Woodruff, Ph.D. 
    UCLA Multiple Sclerosis Program 
    Department of Neurology 
    Los Angeles, CA 90095. 
    Electronic applications are encouraged: 

    Postdoctoral Position Available -
    Gene Therapeutics Research Institute and the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology

    A postdoctoral position is available to study the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in brain immune responses and the formation and function of immunological synapses in vivo. (See: The Journal of Experimental Medicine, 203:2095- 107, 2006; Cancer Research, 65: 7194-7204, 2005; Nature Biotechnology, 19: 582-585, 2001; Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 97, 7482-7, 2000; Nature Medicine, 5, 1256 – 1263, 1999).

    A strong background in immunology, cell biology, virology, neuroanatomy, and image analysis is essential. Please visit either of these websites for more information: or Web/Faculty.aspx?ri=10016

    The Gene Therapeutics Research Institute is located at the Cedars Sinai Medical Center campus and offers state-of-the-art facilities in an exciting environment for postdoctoral research. A strong background in molecular, cellular, neuroanatomical and/or confocal microscopy techniques is required. Interested candidates should have a Ph.D and/or an M.D and have under 5 years postdoctoral experience. Salary is dependent on education and research experience, with a range of $36,000-$45,000. Please submit a cover letter, CV including bibliography, and contact information for three references to:

    Pedro R. Lowenstein M.D., Ph.D. 
    Maria G. Castro, Ph.D. 
    Cedars Sinai Medical Center 
    Davis Building, Room R5090, 
    8700 Beverly Blvd. 
    Los Angeles, CA 90048.


    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.

    Alyssa Nguyen-Phuc is currently a freshman majoring in behavioral neuroscience at Yale University. She is interested in doing research in neuroscience over the summer, especially at the molecular level. She is especially interested in research opportunities in neurobiology and developmental disabilities. She is available to work from mid-May until early August, is very flexible about hours (she will be in LA for the summer) and is willing to volunteer her time if no paid positions are available. “Molecular and developmental neuroscience is just is a topic I'm very interested in and I would really like to become involved with the groundbreaking research that the UCLA center is conducting.” If you are interested in contacting Alyssa, please e-mail her directly at: [].

    Maclyn O’Donnell would like to obtain a research assistant position this summer (resume available in BRI editorial office). He is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Biomolecular Engineering. The program is ranked in the top 10 in the nation; so far he has A's in all his science and engineering courses.

    Maclyn could begin employment early in May. He may have a short-term job from June 23 through August 2, however, he could be available again from August 4th through the end of August.

    He is very interested in neuroscience, biochemistry, stem cell research, nanotechnology, and other biomedical fields as well. He is quite excited about the possibility of working in a real research lab. To contact Maclyn please send email

    Patrícia Soares Rogeri would like to obtain a postdoctoral position. She received her Ph.D. degree (Doctor of Sciences) from São Paulo University, Brazil, three months ago. Her thesis was entitled "Immune system cells metabolic and functional alterations in spinal cord injured patients." Dr. Rogeri is currently a medical technologist, responsible for the coordination of LABMEN – Laboratório de Metabolismo do Exercício e Nutrição [Exercise Metabolism and Nutrition Laboratory]. She is skilled in immunology, especially general immunology and glutamine metabolism, with expertise in the areas of exercise, immune system, metabolism, branched-chain amino acids, and creatine. A copy of Dr. Rogeri’s CV is available in the editorial office. For additional information please contact her directly at E-mail:

    Ramona von Leden will graduate this May from Brown University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, with a focus in Behavioral Neuroscience. She is interested in conducting studies on neurodegenerative diseases and would like to obtain a research assistant position for a one-year term. She has spent the last year working in a lab at the Miriam Hospital in Rhode Island on a behavioral study on the effects of increased levels of cortisol in children. Her goal is to work as a research assistant for a year to learn more about neurodegenerative diseases and get more lab experience before applying to graduate school. She believes her experience working in a lab will be an asset and understands the amount of effort and work that goes into research. She is also very good at working in a collaborative situation due to her experience as a teaching assistant.

    Ramona is planning a trip to southern California some time in March or April. If you are interested in contacting her, please e-mail her directly A copy of her resume is available in the BRI editorial office.


    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