News happening in our Program
|Program News||Research News||Current News||2010 News||2009 News|
|back to top|
Keith Hengen won the Vilas Travel Grant Award
Keith Hengen received the Vilas Travel Grant Award offered by the Graduate Student Collaborative. This grant award students with financial assistance to travel for conferences or research purposes.
While the findings may sound obvious to some, programs that prepare science graduate students for teaching are still relatively rare, says Handelsman, despite repeated calls by the National Research Council and others for better education training for future professors. What's more, of the programs that do exist, none appear to have been studied as carefully as the UW-Madison initiative, known as the Teaching Fellows Program.
Lending Library a Popular Source in Summer
At the University of Wisconsin at Madison, instructors used Lending Library materials together with sheep brains supplied by the Alliance for the neurobiology segment of the PEOPLE (Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence) program. The program brings highly motivated, low-income high school students on campus to give them a taste of academic university life
The University of Wisconsin-Madison Neuroscience Training Program held teacher workshops and a sheep brain dissection demonstration at a local Boys and Girls Club. More...
Speaker: Massih Hamidi
Session Type: Slide
Session Number: 120.8
Session Title: Working Memory
Date and Time: Sunday Nov 16, 2008 8:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Presentation Time: 9:45am - 10:00am
Location: Washington Convention Center: Room 201
Erik Dent, assistant professor in the Department of Anatomy, was recently named a recipient of the Dana Foundation Award in Brain and Immuno-imaging for 2008. The Dana Foundation supports research on imaging innovations that help reveal how the human brain functions normally, how disorders and injuries alter these functions, and how various therapies affect these conditions. He will use these funds ($200,000) to study how the cytoskeleton regulates dendritic spine structure and synaptic plasticity in developing hippocampal neurons.
Dr. Dent also received a Whitehall Foundation Grant ($225,000) to study the fine structure of the cytoskeleton in dendrites and dendritic spines with super-resolution optical imaging. The Whitehall Foundation emphasizes the support of young scientists at the beginning of their career.
Richard Chen, studying changes in ion homeostasis and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, and Massih Hamidi, studying the working memory system in humans, both received the Vilas Travel Grant Award offered by the Graduate Student Collaborative. This grant award students with financial assistance to travel for conferences or research purposes.
NTP took part in Brain Awareness Week 2008
During the month of April, the the Neuroscience Training Program participated in UW-Madison’s Science Expeditions by hosting an exploration station. The program, staffed by volunteer faculty members and undergraduate and graduate students, was also at the Madison Children’s Museum doing hands-on neuroscience activities with the young and old. “We reached a total of approximately 2,000 people. All this costs only $400 in supply money, plus 40 hours or so in organization time, plus 48–60 hours of volunteers,” explains Heather Daniels, assistant director of graduate studies in the Neuroscience Training Program at UW-Madison.
Keith Hengen, studying the cardiorespiratory and neuroprotective changes that accompany the hibernation phenotype, was honored for his outstanding mentorship by his graduate school colleagues, faculty and staff at the Multicultural Graduate Network (MGN) and the Graduate Student Collaborative's (GSC) annual Peer Mentor Awards celebration.
Baron Chanda receives the 2008 Shaw Award
The Greater Milwaukee Foundation honored Baron Chanda, an assistant professor in the Department of Physiology, with this prestigious award. The Shaw Award — a $200,000 unrestricted prize — provides critical support for groundbreaking research at the frontiers of genetics, cell biology and cancer research to promising young scientists at the start of their careers.
Beth Meyerand, an associate professor of medical physics and biomedical engineering, teaches a three-credit course in a problem-based learning format that put students in charge of analyzing real medical challenges. Her approach, also lecture-free, splits the 20 students into groups and gives them problems that they must solve independently. The class also debates current topics in medical imaging. “The great thing about problem-based learning is you allow students to exceed your expectations,” she adds. “They will take it as far as they can.”
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, May 14, 2008, @ 9:30AM
LOCATION: T216 Waisman Center
Daniel Kelley conducts research in Richard Davidson's laboratory. Kelley has won numerous honors including the HHMI Teaching Fellow, NIH Travel Award, and many more. It is our priviledge to have Kelley present his research and we encourage all students and faculties to attend.
DATE & TIME: Thursday, May 15, 2008, @ 4:00 PM
LOCATION: Room 1111 Genetics/Biotechnology
Verner Bingman, from Bowling Green State University, will be speaking on this topic. If you are interested in attending or have any questions, please contact Jenny Dahlberg at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sterling Johnson, PhD, assistant professor, SMPH, is one of only three researchers to receive the prestigious Tomorrow’s Leader in Alzheimer’s Disease Research Award from the national Alzheimer’s Association. Johnson has been awarded $100,000 as recognition for work considered pivotal toward eliminating Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to his research through SMPH, Johnson is a researcher at the Geriatric Research and Educational Clinical Center at the Veterans Hospital.
Jenny Dahlberg will be taking Heather's place in the NTP office. She is finishing her master's degree in Gordon Mitchell's laboratory where she studied respiratory plasticity. Jenny is looking forward to working with the NTP students and faculty - so please stop by the office to say hello!
Heather Daniels has worked for the program for about 11 years. Her presence will be missed, but the work and effort she has given to this program will always be greatly appreciated. Best wishes to you, Heather!
Gordon Mitchell, professor and chair of the Department of Comparative Biosciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine, has been selected as a councillor to the American Physiological Society (APS). The APS has nine elected councillors who make all the major policy decisions relevant to the society and make committee appointments.
John Kuo develops novel brain tumor therapies in the lab and uses stem cells for research to identify molecules that regulate blood-brain barriers. At the April 26 - May 1 Annual Meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeions (AANS), Kuo's award will be announced. AANS is the largest and oldest neurosurgery organization in the world.
The brain has the highest lipid content of any organ next to adipose tissue. In the initial lectures, Rao Adibhatla will introduce students to the importance of lipid metabolism in the health and diseases of brain. If you are interested, this class is listed under NEUROSCIENCE 675 (Section 25). [Enrollment number: 33841]
Brendon Nacewicz, studying the contribution of volumetric, chemical, and physical connectivity differences in the limbic system to impairments in social behavior, received an Individual Pre-Doctoral NRSA Fellowship Award from NIH.
Erica Rosenbaum, studying genetic defects and molecular mechanisms of retinal degeneration in humans, received an Individual Pre-Doctoral NRSA Fellowship Award from NIH.
Sutula selected as Lennox Lecturer at AES Annual Meeting
Dr. Thomas Sutula, chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Wisconsin was selected as Lennox Lecturer by the American Epilepsy Society for its 2007 annual meeting. Dr. Sutula is internationally recognized for his contributions to the understanding of how seizure activity modifies neurons and neronal circuitry in an area of the brain especially susceptible to epilepsy.
Rao M. Adibhatla, assistant professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery, has joined the Neurochemical Research Journal editorial board. This journal is devoted to publishing original reports of experiemental and clinical research results, as well as perceptive reviews of significant problem areas in the neurosciences.
Mary Behan was recently named the School of Veterinary Medicine’s new associate dean for research and graduate training. Congratulations!
Sterling Johnson wins the White House Science Award
Sterling Johnson has received the highest national honor bestowed upon scientists in the early stages of his careers. The Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) recognize top junior researchers who have demonstrated exceptional potential and leadership at the frontiers of science.
This program is designed to enhance career development and professional networking opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral minority students in neuroscience. Jesus Mena was selected based on his academic excellence, professional goals, research interests, and experiences.
It will be a bittersweet memorial to award the 2007 ANDP Special Achievement Award to Dr. Ann Kelley of the University of Wisconsin for her commitment to building Neuroscience programs.
To attend the ANDP Fall Meeting and Reception on Saturday, November 3rd, please click on the title for more information on how to register.
To learn more about Ann Kelley's contributions, view this PDF.
UW-Madison Researchers wage war on Cancer Stem Cells
Dr. John Kuo, a UW Hospital brain surgeon, knows all too well what frequently happens after he removes a cancerous tumor from a patient. The tumor grows back, despite post-surgery radiation and chemotherapy.
$7.2 Million Grant to Aid Search for ALS Stem Cell Therapy
This grant, to be awarded over five years, will fund research aimed at finding novel therapies for treating a debilitating and nearly always fatal condition caused by the withering of motor neutrons, the brain cells that control the body's muscles.
"This is a great opportunity," says Clive Svendsen, who will direct the project along with UW-Madison neuroscientists Su-Chun Zhang and Gordon S. Mitchell. "There is a lot of synergy between our groups which provide for a lot of overlap that we think will help us get at some of the key issues of ALS."
Lyn Turkstra, department of Communicative Disorders, won the Certificate of Recognition for Special Contributions in Higher Education for her mentoring. This award recognizes distinguished achievement and/or contributions (within the last five years) in one or more of the following areas: university and college classroom teaching; clinical teaching; student mentoring, or development of new and innovative educational techniques and technologies in the fields of audiology, speech-language pathology, or speech, language and hearing science.
Ned Kalin opens new HealthEmotions building
"We want to scan the brains of as many patients as we can, " said Dr. Ned Kalin, a psychiatrist who is co-director of the HealthEmotions Research Institute, which is adding to its headquarters. "We want to redefine the way people look at mental illness. "
Ann Kelley passes away
The NTP suffered a tragic loss when Ann Kelley, who served as chair of the program from 2000-2005, passed away in her home in Madison on Sunday, August 5, 2007 following a courageous fight against metastatic colon cancer. She was 53 years old. Ann was a dynamic and forceful leader who maintained a very active research lab while serving as a role model for women in leadership in science. She will be sorely missed by all of the students and faculty. Read more in an article in the local newspaper.
Memorials in her memory can be made to the Ann E. Kelley Fellowship in Behavioral Neuroscience. Donations should be sent to the University of Wisconsin Foundation, 1848 University Ave., Madison 53726.
Profile of Barry Ganetzky
Barry Ganetzky has scrutinized mutant fruit flies that shake, shimmy, and pass out if overheated, in his search for the genes that underlie this unusual appearance and behavior. Some may consider his use of phenotypic analysis old-fashioned, but it has served him well, leading him to discover numerous genes involved in development and neural function and earning him election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2006.
Karen Alsene wins SfN Travel Award
"We're going to cover all of stem cell biology and regenerative processes," Svendsen explains in describing the center's broad focus on stem cells ranging from embryos and adult tissues to cancer stem cells.
Daniels is known as a master administrator, managing a large and complex program with more than 50 graduate students and 80 faculty members from six schools and colleges and 22 departments.
Neuroscience graduate student Beth Hutchinson is completing a Delta internship this semester as a teaching assistant for an upper-level neurobiology course. She and physiology professor Tom Yin decided to introduce students to primary research literature, the formal and often dense academic papers that are a staple resource in any scientific profession and a common measure of research productivity.
“Last April I completed hiking the trail, and boy, was it beautiful!” he says. “To my amazement it turns out that I was only the 27th person to have finished the trail since it opened in the 1950s. I also have the dubious distinction of being the oldest person to have done it — I finished on my 70th birthday!”
And what did Stretton think about during his trek through the woods?
“How to improve my teaching, of course,” he says.
APS Member Joseph Kemnitz Receives Knox Award
The Wisconsin Association for Biomedical Research and Education (WABRE) presented Joe Kemnitz, director of the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, with the Knox Courage Award January 19 at the Best Western Inntowner Hotel in Madison, WI.
Pearce Appointed Anesthesiology Chair
MADISON--Robert A. Pearce, MD, PhD, is appointed chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH).
Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been included in Time Magazine’s recent list of the 20th Century’s 100 most influential people.
|back to top|
Patient-derived induced stem cells retain disease traits
"When scientists study diseases in humans, they can normally only look at the tissues affected after death and then try to work out — how did that disease happen? It's a little like the police arriving at the scene of a road accident — the car's in the ditch, but they don't know how it got there or the cause of it," explains Svendsen, a professor of anatomy and neurology in the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and the Waisman Center, and co-director of the Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center.
How hard could it be? After all, there are supercomputers that can decode the human genome, play chess and calculate prime numbers out to 13 million digits.
But University of Wisconsin-Madison research psychiatrist Giulio Tononi, who was recently selected to take part in the creation of a "cognitive computer," says the goal of building a computer as quick and flexible as a small mammalian brain is more daunting than it sounds.
In a series of experiments reported today (Dec. 9) in the Journal of Neuroscience, a UW-Madison pharmacy researcher was able to prolong life and slow nerve deterioration in a mouse with a genetic form of ALS. Marcelo Vargas, a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Jeff Johnson, a professor in the School of Pharmacy, tested mice that carried an extra gene that pushed support cells for the neurons into overdrive, causing them to pump out extra quantities of the antioxidant glutathione.
But the mice with extra copies of Nrf2 produced glutathione right alongside the vulnerable neurons, and that made all the difference, says Johnson. These special mice were engineered in collaboration with Albee Messing, a professor in the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine and also an investigator at the Waisman Center. "It's extremely difficult to increase glutathione in the central nervous system," Johnson says. "You can't just shoot it into people or animals. But we found a 25 percent increase in the molecule in the spinal cords."
Research on human embryonic stem cells marks 10-year milestone
Ten years ago today (Nov. 6, 1998), the publication in the journal Science of a short paper entitled "Embryonic Stem Cell Lines Derived from Human Blastocysts" rocked biology — and the world — as the all-purpose stem cell and its possibilities were ushered into the limelight.
Jan. 31, 2005 Wisconsin scientist Su-Chun Zhang creates the first spinal motor neurons.
Parkinson's Disease Foundation announces award of $150,000
Dr. Emborg and Dr. Zhang will be conducting a pilot study that examines the use of transformed adult skin cells in the treatment of Parkinson's. Scientists can now direct the skin cells of a person with Parkinson's to become pluripotent stem cells (iPS), which appear to have similar potential to embryonic stem cells. This means that iPS cells can change into any other type of cell in the body, including dopamine neurons – the very cells that are damaged in the brains of people with Parkinson's. Scientists theorize that transplanting replacement cells in the brains of people with Parkinson's could ease symptoms of the disease. Though technical challenges lay ahead with the iPS method, its discovery has allowed researchers to sidestep ethical and political debates associated with using embryonic stem cells.
Led by Dongsheng Cai, an assistant professor of physiology at the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, the researchers looked specifically at the hypothalamus — the brain structure responsible for maintaining a steady state in the body — and for the first time found that a cell-signaling pathway primarily associated with inflammation also influences the regulation of food intake.
“Lab on the Lake” to Kick off World Stem Cell Summit
UW-Madison stem cell scientists James Thomson, Timothy Kamp, Clive Svendsen and Linda Hogle are scheduled guests on an afternoon experts panel hosted by the Student Society for Stem Cell Research (SSSCR). The campus SSSCR chapter is also planning the society’s annual national meeting for its 30 chapters that day.
Stem Cell Research Multiple Sclerosis
On September 22 - 23, Wisconsin will be the destination for the world’s leading stem cell researchers. The 2008 World Stem Cell Summit takes place in Madison and brings together key researchers, policy-makers and experts in law and ethics. Reporter Frederica Freyberg examines the work of one of the scientists who will be featured at the summit. Dr. Ian Duncan, a professor of Veterinary Medicine at the UW Madison, is developing new techniques involving stem cells.
Engineered stem cells carry promising ALS therapy
"We were surprised," says Clive Svendsen, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of neurology. "We got nice protection of the nerves connected to the muscle and increased survival of the rats."
A new research project at UW–Madison offers the opportunity to apply hard science to these seemingly ethereal questions. UW–Madison psychology professor Richard Davidson, director of the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, has received a $2.5 million grant from the Michigan-based Fetzer Institute to create a new research initiative on the neuroscience of compassion, love and forgiveness, investigating how these virtues manifest themselves in the human mind and whether we have the ability to nurture and expand them through practice.
Anxious individuals may be hard-wired in childhood to be tense, nervous and prone to depression, new research suggests. The central core of the brain's anxiety center was found in the amygdala, a part of the brain that controls emotional reactions, such as the fight or flight response. Antsy monkeys with high amygdala activity also had greater levels of the stress hormone cortisol in both safe and threatening environments. "The circuit in the brain is predictive of how anxious and how high levels of stress hormones are in the monkey," said UW-Madison psychiatry professor Ned Kalin.
The Research Apprenticeship Program (RAP) is a seven-week, precollege summer program designed to provide research experiences for a diverse group of juniors and seniors from the Dane County area. Arthur Polans, a UW-Madison professor of ophthalmology entering his 12th year as an RAP mentor, typically guides one student each summer through what he describes as an "extremely overwhelming experience."
We all know people who are tense and nervous and can't relax. They may have been wired differently since childhood. Ned Kalin, in collaboration with others, recently published a study which looked at brain activity, anxious behavior and stress hormones in adolescent rhesus monkeys, which have long been used as a model to understand anxious temperament in human children.
Stimulant medications such as Ritalin have been prescribed for decades to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and their popularity as "cognition enhancers" has recently surged among the healthy, as well. Craig Berridge recently reported that Ritalin fine-tunes the functioning of neurons in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) - a brain region involved in attention, decision-making and impulse control.
In our brains, where millions of signals move across a network of neurons like runners in a relay race, all the critical baton passes take place at synapses. These small gaps between nerve cell endings have to be just the right size for messages to transmit properly. Synapses that grow too large or too small are associated with motor and cognitive impairment, learning and memory difficulties, and other neurological disorders. In a finding that sheds light on this system, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison describe a gene that controls the proper development of synapses, which could help explain how the process works and why it sometimes goes wrong.
By comparing the good mothers to their less attentive releatives, research has found that negligent parenting seems to have both genetic and non-genetic influences, and may be linked to dysregulation of the brain signaling chemical dopmine. As a possible model for human child neglect, these mice offer a valuable opportunity to investigate the biological and behavioral bases of naturally occuring maternal negelect, say UW-Madison zoology professor Stephen Gammie.
Child negelect has devastating consequences, Anthony Auger says, and the natural occurrence of maternal neglect within this mouse strain offers a powerful opportunity to investigate the biological and behavioral bases of maternal neglect.
Study Shows Compassion Meditation Changes the Brain
Can we train ourselves to be compassionate? A new study suggests the answer is yes. Research suggests that individuals - from children who may engage in bullying to people prone to recurring depression - and society in general could benefit from such meditative practices, says study director Richard Davidson, professor of psychiatry and psychology at UW-Madison and an expert on imaging the effects of meditation.
Tracking Secrets of the Brain
Intricate mysteries of the brain are being unraveled in Madison Laboratories as researchers use modern imaging techniques to see inside the human brain as it's functioning. "The goal is to find ways to diagnose Alzheimer's desease earlier," said Sterling Johnson, a neuropsychologist at the Veterans Hospital in Madison and an associate professor of medicine.
The goal of the research is to try to identify Alzheimer's disease before symptoms start occurring, and researchers believe to do that, they must look at the brain. That's exactly what Dr. Sterling Johnson is doing. He's been doing work where healthy people -- both with a family history of Alzheimer's disease and without -- have MRIs done while performing memory tasks.
This Bird Sings when Looking for Love
Lauren Riters' research has specifically focused on the European starling, a bird species that is very prolific on the Wisconsin landscape. It also has distinctly different spring and fall singing patterns, which is important for Riters' interest in context-dependent communication.
The human brain expends up to 80 percent of its energy on synaptic activity, constantly adding and strengthening connections in response to all kinds of stimulation, explains study author Chiara Cirelli, associate professor of psychiatry.
Mediated by a hormone receptor protein known as the corticotropin - releasing factor type 2 (CRF2) receptor, the system has attracted recent interest for its role in regulating food intake, say Vaishali Bakshi and Ned Kalin, professors in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin - Madison School of Medicine and Public Health.
Study finds Viagra increases release of key reproductive hormone
"This is one piece in a puzzle in which many pieces are still not available. But it raises the possibility that erectile dysfunction drugs could be doing more than just affecting erectile dysfunction."-Meyer Jackson, physiology professor
How Viagra makes men loving as well as lusty
Another article that features Meyer Jackson's research. The study is one of many investigating the beneficial side-effects of anti-impotence drugs.
"Our results suggest that there is a subgroup of patients with depression for whom traditional cognitive therapy may be contraindicated," Davidson says. "Other therapeutic interventions may benefit this subgroup more than cognitive therapy, though this remains to be studied in future research."
"At the early stages of disease, we saw almost 100 percent protection of motor neurons," explains Clive Svendsen.
"In one sense, concentration mediation is ridiculously simple, but in another, it's extraordinarily difficult," adds Richard Davidson. "If you try it for two minutes, you will see that it's not so easy. Minds have a propensity to wander."
Second Sleep Gene Found
"Without potassium channels, you don’t get slow waves, the oscillations shown by groups of neurons across the brain that are the hallmark of deep sleep," says Chiara Cirelli, MD, PhD, the SMPH psychiatry professor of who is the senior author on the latest study.
"The attention momentarily goes off-line," Richard Davidson says. "Your attention gets stuck on the first target, then you miss the second one." This effect is called "attentional blink," as when you blink your eyes, you are briefly unaware of visual signals.
Giulio Tononi, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, has discovered how to stimulate brain waves that characterize the deepest stage of sleep. The discovery could open a new window into the role of sleep in keeping humans healthy, happy and able to learn.
"We are quite confident it is genetic," says Jules B. Panksepp, a UW-Madison neuroscience graduate student and the lead author of the new study, which was conducted using two different strains of young mice: one gregarious in nature, the other much less so. "Their motivation to engage others varies with their genetic background; it appears to affect how young mice approach social situations."
"They like company. That's the point," says Garet Lahvis, of the gregarious strain of mouse. Lahvis is a professor of surgery in the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and the senior author of the new study.
Before we can develop alternatives, however, we need to know how the current drugs work in the brain to calm behavior and focus attention, says psychology professor Craig Berridge. “It’s very surprising,” he says, “but though we’ve used these drugs for half a century and today in very high numbers, no one understands the biological mechanisms that drive their therapeutic effects.”
Study focuses on closing school achievement gap
Led by psychology professor Mark Seidenberg and communicative disorders professors Julie Washington and Jan Edwards, the study focuses on African American children, a group that is particularly at risk for educational failure.
The effort, led by Robert Pearce, professor of anesthesiology, is aimed at developing a high-throughput drug screen capable of detecting changes in the activity of receptors that control ion channels that act as portals to the cell.
Co-principal investigators are pharmacy professor Sandro Mecozzi, materials science and engineering professor Max Lagally, biomedical engineering professor Justin Williams, electrical and computer engineer Robert Blick and physiology professor Cynthia Czajkowski. Collaborating is genetics and chemistry professor David Schwartz.
Fragile X protein may play role in Alzheimer’s disease
No one knows what triggers toxic beta-amyloid accumulation in the brain, but the sticky bits are made when the larger amyloid precursor protein is chopped up by enzymes, says Jim Malter, a pathologist in the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and senior author of the new study.