Neuroscience News Spring 2003

Published by the UCLA Brain Research Institute 
SPRING, 2003 
Volume 12, No.2

Table of Contents


Dr. Zili Liu, Assistant Professor of Psychology recently became a member of the Brain Research Institute.

Zili Liu received a Ph.D. degree in cognitive science from Brown University, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Brain & Vision Research Laboratory at Brown University in 1994. He then moved to the NEC Research Institute as a Visiting Scientist until 1998. In 1998, Dr. Liu moved to Rutgers University in Newark as Assistant Professor of Psychology. Dr. Liu joined UCLA as Assistant Professor of Psychology in 2001.

Dr. Liu's current research focuses on visual perception and cognition. There are three major projects in the laboratory. The first investigates visual perception of shape from motion (information, theoretical, behavioral, and imaging), the second, visual perceptual learning of motion discrimination (behavioral and fMRI), and the third, visual object recognition of partially occluded shapes and shapes with articulations (behavioral and computational). Describing this research, Dr. Liu states, "The question that interests me most is: How does our visually perceived world differ from the physical world? Obviously our visual representation of the world is not a replica, but reflects our unique evolutionary and ecological needs. We selectively amplify certain details and ignore others, and increase our sensitivity to those deemed important via practice (perceptual learning). We organize these important visual details into categories (e.g., objects) and encode them into memory in specific ways so that we can recognize objects effortlessly (object recognition). These organized categories, in turn, impose on our senses so that we perceive the world in a regular, coherent, and stable manner (perceptual organization). Indeed, the nature of our memory representations is one of the most important questions in psychology, and it is this question that has been the focus of my research. My approach in studying visual perception integrates human perceptual experiments, fMRI, and information-theoretic analysis. The theoretical analysis is at the competence level, based primarily on mathematical statistics. That is to say, given the visual stimulus, what is theoretically the best any visual system can do, human or computer alike. Formally, it is called the ‘ideal observer’ approach."

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


The Joint Seminars in Neuroscience (JSN) series will resume Fall quarter, beginning September 30, 2003. A number of outstanding speakers are lined up for the Fall. Mark your calendars and plan to join us every Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. in the Louis Jolyon West Auditorium (C8-183 NPI).


September 30, 2003    To be Determined
October 7, 2003          Rudy Tanzi
October 14, 2003        John Hildebrand
October 21,2003         Clay Reid 
October 28, 2003        Greg Quirk
November 4, 2003       Li-Huei Tsia
November 11, 2003     SFN Meeting, no lecture
November 18, 2003     Tamas Bartfai
November 25, 2003     Fred (Rusty) Gage
December 2, 2003       Monique Ernst

The Joint Seminars in Neuroscience are sponsored by The Brain Research Institute and the Neuropsychiatric Institute; co-sponsored by the Interdepartmental Programs for Neuroscience, the Mental Retardation Research Center, and the Departments of Anesthesiology, Neurobiology, Neurology, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Psychology, Physiology, Physiological Science, Ophthalmology, and Surgery/Neurosurgery.

Category 1 Continuing Medical Education (CME). This is an activity offered by the UCLA NPI&H, a CMA-accredited provider. Physicians attending this course may report up to 1 hour of Category 1 credit per course toward the CMA’s Certificate in Continuing Medical Education and the AMA’s Physician’s Recognition Award.


Pilot and Feasibility Studies 

The CURE Digestive Diseases Research Center invites applications (new or second year renewal) for funding during the 2003-2004 academic year. Funding will be available for high quality research in the field of gastroenterology, which is of relevance to the overall CURE Research Program in gastrointestinal biology and neurogastroenterology, with a special emphasis on receptor and signal transduction, brain-gut interactions, mucosal physiology, and mechanisms underlying gastrointestinal diseases. Proposed projects should lead to the submission of a NIH grant (e.g. R01), VA Merit Review Application or related agency research support. Funding level awarded is up to $20,000/year. 

1. New investigators without current or past NIH or related agency research support as principal investigators, who are seeking to establish their own independent research program. 

2. Established investigators with other research support, who have not been involved in gastrointestinal research and who want to enter this field of research.

3. Established investigators with other support for gastrointestinal research, who want to pursue a new research direction in the field of gastroenterology, which represents a significant departure from their funded research.
Category 1 is given preference by the review committee.

1. Hold a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent degree and have at least 1 year of postgraduate research experience. 

2. Trainees who are recipient of an NRSA individual award (F32) or are supported by an institutional training grant (T32) are eligible only if they are in their last year of training. 

Application Deadline: July 7, 2003; Starting Date: February 1, 2004.
Application forms with detailed instructions can be obtained from CURE Web at or from: 

Kasey Eng, Coordinator, PFS Program 
CURE Bldg. 115, Room 117B, VAGLAHS 
11301 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90073 
Tel: 310-478-3711, x43350; FAX: 310-268-4963 

Announcement of a new program for the support of Early Career Patient-oriented Investigators in Clinical Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics with a new $750,000 award for each scholar.

The UCLA Mentored Clinical Pharmacology Research Scholars Program (MCPRSP) is a new, highly structured mentored clinical scholar program in patient-oriented research that is broad, interdisciplinary and focused on the area of clinical pharmacology and experimental therapeutics. This field bridges molecular medicine and health care and covers all areas of clinical medicine.

This program is supported by a recently awarded 7-million dollar K12 grant from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), NIH (P.I. and Program Director: Julio Licinio, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine). The K12 initiative was created by the NIH to foster the development of patient-oriented investigators. The UCLA K12 is focused on career development of patient-oriented investigators in the area of clinical pharmacology and experimental therapeutics.

The award can provide each participant with over $750,000 over five years for salary support and career development. For more information, please see the website at: or contact Heather Wolford -; phone: 310-825-6312.
The application deadline is July 1, 2003.



The donor's primary purpose in endowing the Miller Institute was to discover scientists of great talent or promise and to support basic research on the Berkeley campus in the areas of physical, biological, mathematical and engineering science. 

Therefore, the Executive Committee of the Institute offers fellowships to brilliant young men and women who have recently taken or who are about to take the doctoral degree. Nominees may be U.S. citizens or non-US citizens who are eligible for a J1 visa status. Candidates cannot have an appointment of any kind on the Berkeley campus at the time of nomination or award. Approximately 8-10 awards are granted each year for a term of three years.

Candidates for Miller Research Fellowships may not enter the competition on their own initiative. Candidates are invited to do so on the basis of nominations solicited from a world-wide panel of outstanding scientists, former Miller Professors and Fellows and the science faculty at the University of California. Nominations are also accepted from faculty advisors or department chairs of potential candidates. Fellowships are awarded for a term of three years, typically beginning August 1 and ending July 31.

The annual stipend for Miller Research Fellows stands at $50,000 per year. The Institute also provides an individual contingency fund of $10,000 per year to be used for research or administrative assistance, equipment, travel to professional meetings, to consult with investigators or any other essential research needs. Medical and dental insurance plans are also provided.

Nominations for the 2004-2007 term are due no later than Thursday, October 2, 2003. Nominations received past that date will not be accepted. The letter of nomination must include the following information:

1) Nominee's full name
2) Nominee's complete mailing address, email address, phone and fax. 
3) (Expected) Date of Ph.D.
4) Nominator's recommendation and judgment of the candidate's promise

Nominations cannot be processed without this information. 

Upon receipt of a nomination, an application is mailed to the candidate. Applications are due no later than October 30, 2003. Public announcement of awards is made by the Executive Committee in early spring annually.
For further questions, please see web site:, or contact:

Kathryn Day, Executive Assistant
Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science
2536 Channing Way #5190, Berkeley, CA 94720-5190
(510) 642-4088; Fax (510) 643-7393



The National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression is accepting applications for grants to support basic and clinical research on mental illness, including schizophrenia, major affective disorders, and bipolar disorders. The grant is intended to help young investigators extend their fellowship training or begin careers as independent researchers. 

Postdoctoral students and assistant professors (or the equivalent) who are already employed in research training or who have faculty or independent research positions are eligible. The applicant must also have an on-site mentor or senior collaborator who is an established investigator in the field. 

The deadline for applications is July 25, 2003. The total amount to be awarded and number of awards is not yet specified; amount of individual awards is $30,000 a year for up to two years. View the full text of this announcement on web site:


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

Electron Microscopy and Specimen Preparation
For information, contact:
Brigitta Sjostrand X68054

Microscopic Techniques and Histological Preparation
For information, contact:
Sharon Sampogna X59848

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


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

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

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

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

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


The Neuropathology Laboratory at UCLA Medical Center maintains a bank of frozen, formalin and paraformaldehyde-fixed and paraffin-embedded postmortem human brain tissues and frozen cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from patients who die with Alzheimer's disease and other dementing and degenerative illnesses (including progressive supranuclear palsy, Parkinson's disease, fronto-temporal dementia), as well as control materials removed in a similar fashion from patients who are neurologically normal. Tissues are maintained as part of the NIA-funded Neuropathology Core functions of the UCLA Alzheimer's Disease Center. These tissues/fluids are available as a resource to investigators in any discipline. Pilot studies using the tissues/CSF to examine biomolecules that are of known importance in animal models and suspected significance in human neurodegenerative conditions are particularly encouraged. Every attempt will be made to provide research materials for worthwhile projects in a timely fashion. For further information on tissues/CSF available and how to access them, contact:

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


Postdoctoral Positions
Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Brain Imaging of Substance Abuse
The Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA invites applicants to join a multidisciplinary research team using PET in studies of brain function related to drug abuse. The position (for 2-3 years) is available immediately and will focus on development and execution of studies on interactions of drugs of abuse with brain systems in rodent and nonhuman primate models. This position offers a rich academic environment and state-of-the-art equipment, including a MicroPET scanner. Candidates should have doctoral training in pharmacology, neuroscience, or experimental psychology. Experience in animal research is required. Knowledge of neuroanatomy, strong computer skills, and prior publications would be helpful. 

Edythe D. London, Ph.D.

NIH-Funded Postdoctoral Position--Mechanisms of Neural Repair in the Brain and Spinal Cord 
A postdoctoral position is available to study mechanisms of neural repair in the brain and spinal cord. Projects centered on neurotrophic factors are being pursued, involving molecular, cellular, and behavioral approaches. The paradigm is that trophic factors can be induced by the practice of select behaviors. Productive experience in molecular biology or biochemistry is desired. The successful candidate will become part of a major collaborative effort between basic and clinical neuroscientists to develop new approaches to repair the brain and spinal cord. Send resume to:

F. Gómez-Pinilla, Ph.D
Department of Physiological Science
621 Charles E. Young Dr. 
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1527 

Postdoctoral Positions in Ion Channel Biology at UCLA
A postdoctoral position is available immediately to study ion channel biogenesis, quality control, and trafficking. Trafficking of ion channels in cardiac myocytes and lymphocytes is of particular interest in this project. Methodology will include cell biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and electrophysiology. Prior experience in at least one of these areas is strongly preferred.

A postdoctoral position is available immediately to study the structural basis of voltage-dependent activation in ion channels. Structural interactions between the voltage sensor and pore domain will be identified using electrophysiological, biochemical, optical, and molecular biological approaches. Patch clamp experience strongly preferred.

Please forward CV and the names of three references to:

Diane M. Papazian, Ph.D.
Professor and Executive Vice Chair
Department of Physiology
David Geffen School of Medicine
University of California at Los Angeles Los Angeles CA 90095-1751
(310) 206-7043; Fax: (310) 206-5661 


Sara Goel received a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from The University of Texas at Austin in May, 2003. She would like to obtain a research assistant position that will advance her career in research and medicine.

Sara has completed upper-division coursework in animal physiology, vertebrate physiology, experimental physiology lab, cellular biology, organic chemistry and lab, microbiology and lab, and genetics. She has laboratory experience with titrations, thin layer and gas chromatography, and fractional distillation. Sara's computer skills include Microsoft Office, Statistics software, and Power-lab. Additionally, Sara has work experience in the Health and Science Center at the University of Texas, Houston, conducting interviews and compiling data for the the Project :Violence Interventation Program. Sara can be contacted at e-mail:

Haibo Xu, M.D., is a Ph.D. candidate majoring in experimental studies on cardiocerebrovascular diseases in the Department of Molecular Biology and Immunology at the Institute of Clinical Pharmacology, Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, P. R. China. He expects to receive his Ph.D. degree in June, 2003. He would like to obtain a postdoctoral position at UCLA. 

Under the guidance of three distinguished mentors, Professor Ming Ou, Professor Ningsheng Wang and Professor Peixun Wang, Dr. Xu 's research project for his doctoral thesis investigates the pharmacological effect of Compound Danshen Dropping Pills (CDDP), a Chinese herb formula that has passed the examination of the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S., on the adherence of vascular endothelial cell to neutrophil and monocyte in ischemia/reperfusion injury and atherosclerosis. He has found that CDDP can reduce the adherence of activated vascular endothelial cell to neutrophil and monocyte in vitro through decreasing the expression of cellular adherence molecule and the synthesis of cellular adherence molecule mRNA, diminishing the rise of [Ca2+]i in activated vascular endothelial cell by attenuating the extracellular Ca2+ influx and the emptying of the internal Ca2+ stores, and enhancing the release of nitrogen monoxide in activated vascular endothelial cell. These results elucidate the mechanism of treating cardiocerebrovascular diseases with CDDP. 

Dr. Xu’s research work utilizes the following techniques: vascular endothelial cell culture, isolation of neutrophil and monocyte, immunofluorescence, flow cytometry (FCM), PCR, Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA), laser scanning confocal microscopy (LSCM), immunohistochemistry, signal transduction and other basic molecular biology, cellular biology, biochemistry, pharmacology and animal experimental techniques. Dr. Xu can be contacted directly at:


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