The UCI School of Medicine hosted its annual Honors & Awards ceremony the evening of May 22, 2012.
Drs. Jamie Wikenheiser, Assistant Professor and Course Director for the Human Anatomy course, and Anne Calof, Professor and contributor to the Histology course each received individual Excellence in Teaching Awards.
These awards are presented to faculty members nominated by the medical student body for Excellence in Teaching. These awards demonstrate the continued exceptional dedication to teaching by faculty of the Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology. Congratulations to Drs. Calof and Wickenheiser for their dedication and success in teaching and for their well-deserved recognition.
The annual Anatomy & Neurobiology Departmental Grad Day is scheduled for Monday June 10, 2013. Grad Day is an annual event that allows graduate students to present summaries of their research projects to the full department. This year, Grad Day will be held in the Herklotz Conference Center at the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory on the UC Irvine campus.
This year’s Grad Day includes a keynote address to be presented by Dr. Joshua Trachtenberg of the Department of Neurobiology at UCLA. Dr. Trachtenberg is an internationally recognized expert on mechanisms of memory formation in the mammalian brain and will present his keynote address: “How is a memory distributed and represented in sensory and frontal cortices?”.
Ryan Schutte, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology and working in the laboratories of Diane O’Dowd and Martin Smith, has been awarded a 2012-13 UCI/Stanley Behrens Public Impact Fellowship. This is the fifth year that UC Irvine’s Graduate Division has awarded Public Impact Fellowships and the first year that a student meeting specific criteria has received a $20,000 UCI/Stanley Behrens Public Impact Fellowship.
Schutte was awarded the fellowship to support his work using fruit flies to model fever-induced seizures similar to those seen in Dravet syndrome. Dravet syndrome refers to an autosomal dominant disorder in which afflicted individuals exhibit numerous epilepsy phenotypes. The flies used in this work have been genetically modified to carry a mutation that causes Dravet syndrome in humans, and they allow Schutte to study how these mutations affect brain cells in his fruit fly model. In collaboration with postdoctoral fellow Lei Sun, he’s discovered that cell membrane channels key to nerve cell signaling open more slowly and close more quickly in the brains of Dravet flies.
Many children with Dravet syndrome experience not only violent seizures but also poor development of language and motor skills, hyperactivity and difficulty relating to others. Furthermore, Dravet seizures are often not well controlled with classic anti-epileptic drugs.
With the new fly model of Dravet seizures, Schutte and Sun are now screening novel compounds to treat this and similar forms of epilepsy. Congratulations Ryan Schutte for your important work and for attracting this important and prestigious funding! (See story on UCI News.
The UCI ReMIND (Research and Education in Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders) held its 4th annual Emerging Scientists Symposium on Neurological Disorders, at the UCI University Club on Thursday February 21st.
ReMIND was created to encourage the next generation of young scientists and clinicians to study neurological disorders and provide a platform for scholarly activities. ReMIND seeks to enfranchise young scholars and promote education, outreach, and collaborations.
Among the featured presenters at this year’s symposium are 5 Anatomy & Neurobiology graduate students and 1 postdoctoral fellows. The graduate students included: Marianne Bezaire (Soltesz Lab), Erin Burke (Cramer Lab), Daniel Haus (Cummings Lab), Kristin Pearson-Fuhrhop (Cramer Lab), and Yanjun Sun (Xu Lab). Mitra Hooshmand, postdoctoral fellow from the Anderson lab and Nicholas DiPatrizio, postdoctoral scholar from the Piomelli Lab also presented talks. Nichholas DiPatrizio was awarded the "Most Outstanding Presentation -- Post-Doctoral Researcher." Congratulations to Dr. DiPatrizio!
Following presentations by graduate student and post-doctoral researchers, the keynote presentation was "Modeling and Treating Neurological Disorders Using Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells" by Dr. Clive Svendsen of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Dr. Ivan Soltesz, Chancellor’s Professor and Chair of Anatomy and Neurobiology, along with Postdoctoral scholars Esther Krook-Magnuson, Caren Armstrong and staff researcher, Mikko Oijala, have developed a way to stop epileptic seizures with fiber-optic light signals, heralding a novel opportunity to treat the most severe manifestations of the brain disorder.
Using a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy, these investigators created a computer system that monitors ongoing EEG brain activity, and activates optical strands implanted in the brain when a seizure is detected. These optical fibers subsequently activate special light-sensitive proteins called opsins, which can either stimulate or inhibit specific neurons in select brain regions during seizures, depending on the type of opsin. Soltesz and colleagues demonstrated that this process was able to arrest ongoing electrical seizure activity and reduce the incidence of severe tonic-clonic seizure events.
The results of this study have appeared online in Nature Communications. Congratulations to Dr's. Soltesz, Krook-Magnuson, Armstrong and Mr. Oijala!
Dr. Daniele Piomelli, Professor of Anatomy & Neurobiology, recently received an honorary doctoral degree (Doctor of Medicine, honoris causa) from the Medical Faculty of Goethe University. The degree was awarded in Frankfurt Germany, on November 27, 2012, in recognition of Dr. Piomelli’s outstanding contributions to the physiology and pharmacology of lipid mediators in general and to the study of endogenous cannabinoids in particular. Goethe University, situated in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, is named for Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the Frankfurt-born Renaissance thinker, renowned for his exceptional contributions to literature, science, and philosophy. Founded in 1914, Goethe University is internationally recognized as the pioneering public university in Europe. Congratulations Dr. Piomelli! See this story in UCI News.
Dr. Xiangmin Xu, Assistant Professor of Anatomy & Neurobiology recently received notification of two grant awards. Dr. Xu is the recipient of a highly prestigious 5 year NIH RO1 award, beginning September 1, 2012. In addition, Dr. Xu has received notification of a 2 year Young Investigator Award from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.
Dr. Xu is a cellular neurobiologist, with research interests in the intricacies of the neural circuitry of cerebral cortical structures. These new grants will support his studies of the microcircuitry of connections of GABAergic inhibitory neurons of the hippocampal formation. The hippocampus, as well as other cortical structures, is comprised of several types of excitatory and inhibitory neurons; the different types of inhibitory neurons appear to display different morphological features and to perform different functions. Dr. Xu plans to use combined approaches of electrophysiology, optical stimulation and novel viral tracing to map local and long-range direct synaptic connections to the major inhibitory neuronal types in the mouse hippocampus.
These studies will increase our understanding of inhibitory neuronal circuit organization in the hippocampus, and will guide future studies to assess and treat circuits in the brains that are altered following disease or injury. The results of this research will enable better therapeutic targeting of neuronal components disrupted by disease in hippocampal circuits that contribute to epilepsy and learning and memory disorders. Congratulations Dr. Xu!
Graduate students in the Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology recently have received several awards to support their research and studies. Award recipients include:
Check out their work on the Graduate Students, Listed by Lab page. Congratulations to all award recipients!
The UCI School of Medicine hosted its annual Honors & Awards ceremony in May, 2012. Faculty of Anatomy & Neurobiology received several awards, demonstrating the continuation of exceptional dedication to teaching. Dr's. Jamie Wikenheiser, Martin Smith and Ivan Soltesz each received individual Excellence in Teaching Awards. These awards are presented to faculty members nominated by the medical student body for Excellence in Teaching. In addition, Dr. Jamie Wikenheiser received the Silver Beaker Award, given annually by the medical students in recognition of the most outstanding teaching in the basic science of the School of Medicine. Congratulations to these faculty members for their dedication and success in teaching and their well-deserved recognition.
The annual Departmental Grad Day was scheduled for Monday June 11, 2012. Grad Day is an annual event that allows graduate students to present summaries of their research projects to the full department. This year, Grad Day was held in the Herklotz Conference Center at the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory on the UC Irvine campus.
This year’s keynote address was presented by Dr. Samuel Pfaff, Howard Hughes Investigator and Professor of the Gene Expression Laboratory from the Salk Institute in La Jolla. Dr. Pfaff is an internationally recognized expert on genetic and molecular regulation of neural development, and presented his keynote address “Development of Spinal Cord Connections that Control Movement”.
Memory and cognitive disorders appear to be associated with abnormal dendritic spines and/or disturbances in the regulation of the dendritic spine cytoskeleton. Dr. Gall’s Program Project brings together a team of investigators to address the hypothesis that defects in regulation of cytoskeletal components of dendritic spines represent a common neurobiological basis for memory disturbances. Further, the results of these studies will determine whether the mechanisms that regulate the cytoskeletal components of spines offer a useful therapeutic target for improving cognitive performance. These studies, using models of memory disturbances in rodents, will be carried out by a collaborative group of four laboratories, and are designed to identify defects in activity-driven signaling associated with physiological correlates of learning and of behavior. These studies then will go on to test (i) if increasing endogenous BDNF expression elicits increases in signaling through the actin regulatory cascades and (ii) the prediction that the restoration of actin regulation is accompanied by a reduction in behavioral abnormalities and learning in each of the rodent models.
Three Projects will be directed by UCI investigators Christine Gall (Overall Program Project principal investigator), Gary Lynch, and Tallie Z Baram; the fourth project is directed by Dr. Michel Baudry (University of Southern California).
Congratulations to Dr. Gall and her research team for obtaining NIH support for this exciting and important scientific work!
Tallie Z. Baram, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Pediatrics, Anatomy &
Neurobiology and Neurology, has been selected as the 2011 recipient of the
American Neurological Association’s Soriano Lectureship Award. This
prestigious Award was established in 1987 by ANA member Dr. Victor Soriano
to provide a “brilliant lecture delivered by an outstanding scientist” who
is a member of the Association. Dr. Baram’s lecture, entitled “How does
the developing brain become epileptic" will be presented at the Annual
Meeting of the ANA to be held September 2011, at the Manchester Grand
Hyatt in San Diego, California.
Her lecture is scheduled to be part of the Presidential Symposium “Epilepsy Through the Ages” to be held on Monday, September 26, 2011. Dr. Baram is an internationally recognized leader in the field of pediatric epilepsy. She leads an active research laboratory studying basic physiological mechanisms underlying developmental epilepsies, especially those that may follow long febrile seizures. Baram is also the scientific director of the UCI comprehensive epilepsy program. Congratulations Dr. Baram!
The National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke (NIDS) awards special grants at each review cycle, to honor the late US Senator Jacob Javits. These prestigious 7 year grants are awarded to distinguished investigators who have made substantial contributions on the leading edge of neurosciences and who can be expected to continue the high level of productivity. This department is proud that two faculty members, Dr. Ivan Soltesz, Professor and Chair of Anatomy & Neurobiology, and Dr. Tallie Z. Baram, Professor of Pediatrics and of Anatomy & Neurobiology both have been awarded Javits grants. Many congratulations to Ivan and to Tallie!