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"We received many excellent proposals, many more than we expected, and we're excited by the quality and prospects for each of the projects that received funding," says UW-Madison Provost Paul DeLuca. "Success here will not only yield valuable research results, but will also draw our institutions closer and provide a roadmap for future collaborations. That is a critical outcome."
Projects funded by the new initiative include:
Psychological and neurological effects during fear conditioning in psychopathic offenders. John Curtin, Michael Koenigs and Joseph Newman, UW-Madison and Fred J. Helmstetter and Christinie Larson, UW-Milwaukee.
"Davidson has become a partner in the Dalai Lama's attempts to build a connection between Buddhism and western science. This weekend, the Dalai Lama will mark the opening of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the university's Waisman Center, where more than a dozen researchers will study the science behind positive qualities of mind. Davidson said the center will be the only one in the world with a meditation room next to a brain imaging laboratory. "
Miguel Santiago-Medina has been invited by the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology to participate in their Developmental Neurobiology Course. Over the course of twelve days Miguel will be rapidly introduced to the intellectual background, model systems, and experimental methods on the assembly of the functional nervous system.
Michael Zorniak has been invited to speak, along with several Nobel Prize recipients and scientists from UCSF, Columbia, MIT and Stanford, at his alma mater Lake Forest College's 10th Annual NeuroFrontiers Workshop. His work on human glioblastoma cancer stem cells entitled "Targeting the Disguised Command Centers in Brain Cancer" will be the focus of his talk.
The full schedule for the workshop can be found here.
Jesus Mena has been honored with a New Investigator Travel Award by the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior. As part of the award, Mena will travel to Pittsburgh in July for the society's annual conference.
"When I met the Dalai Lama in 1992, he challenged me to adapt the tools of Western science, used to study fear and depression, to the study of positive qualities, like kindness and compassion. The Center for Investigating Healthy Minds is a response to that challenge and will become what we hope will be the world's premier center for research of this kind," says Richard Davidson, a UW-Madison professor of psychology and psychiatry and director of the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior.
Epilepsy researcher Thomas Sutula, MD, PhD, has been named the recipient of the William G. Lennox Award for 2009 for pioneering research into mechanisms underlying seizure activity in the brain.
The award, supported by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), recognizes an exceptional faculty member who has earned tenure within the last four years. Each winner, selected by a Graduate School committee, receives an unrestricted $50,000 award for research support.
Bradley Postle, psychology, a cognitive neuroscientist who uses cutting-edge brain imaging and stimulation techniques to study memory and cognition. He is a popular teacher and is associate editor of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.
Please join your colleagues and enjoy friends for lunch, listening, and learning at the University Roundtable, a university tradition since 1948. Featured speakers at the University Roundtable discuss their work at the university as part of a series of engaging talks on timely, interesting topics.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010- Richard Davidson’s talk, “Change Your Brain by Transforming Your Mind,’’ will explore the neuroscience of positive human qualities and introduce the UW’s new “Center for Investigating Healthy Minds,’’ which will bring the Dalai Lama to campus for its grand opening in May. Davidson is professor of psychology and psychiatry and director of the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior. Location: Memorial Union – Great Hall – 11:45 a.m.
Please visit the OHRD website to register: http://www.ohrd.wisc.edu/home/.
The deadline for registration is Wednesday, February 3rd before noon.
See the flyer HERE for more details
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Using novel screens to sort through libraries of drugs already approved for use in human patients, a team of Wisconsin researchers has identified several compounds that could be used to treat a rare and deadly neurological disorder.
The new study, published online in the current (July 2010) issue of the journal Human Molecular Genetics by a team led by University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientist Albee Messing, identifies a set of FDA-approved drugs that seem to tamp down the overproduction of a brain protein that is the hallmark of Alexander disease, a fatal neurodegenerative disorder that affects mostly infants and children.
Two new studies, involving a newly identified gene, show that Alzheimer's disease could be diagnosed as much as 20 years before symptoms develop.
Professor Sterling Johnson found that healthy, middle-aged adults who have the high-risk version of TOMM40 had a significantly lower volume of gray matter in two brain regions affected in early Alzheimer's disease. Johnson says the finding in the brain's posterior cingulate could represent a "neuro signature" for Alzheimer's disease.
The treatment, which was inspired by some curious effects seen in sleep apnea patients, involves a breathing mask that provides oxygen, then intervals of oxygen deprivation. The brief periods without oxygen cause the patient's body to compensate, training their motor neurons to improve breathing.
"But the effects we were having weren't restricted to respiratory motor neurons," says Professor Gordon Mitchell. Preliminary results show an astounding increase in limb muscle function and control, both in rats and humans with partial spinal cord injuries, even after the first treatment.
Now, writing in the journal Cell Stem Cell (July 1, 2010), a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has identified a single gene that seems to be a master regulator of human brain development, guiding undifferentiated stem cells down tightly defined pathways to becoming all of the many types of cells that make up the brain.
In animals, the gene is known to play a role in the development of the eye and is seen in some neural cells. In the human cells used in the new Wisconsin study, Pax6 was observed in virtually all of the cells of the neuroectoderm. "The fact that Pax6 is uniformly expressed in all human neuroectoderm cells was a surprise," Su-Chun Zhang explains. "This is a phenomenon that is a departure from what we see in animals. It seems that in the earliest stages of development, human cells are regulated by different processes."
"About 50 percent of the women who had breast cancer in which the REST gene was spliced had their cancer return within three years," says Avtar Roopra, assistant professor of neurology in the School of Medicine and Public Health. "This gene could prove to be an important diagnostic tool."
“They have strokes or tumors that leave them with lesions in this part of the brain, and then their lives fall apart. They lose jobs, get divorced, and are totally irresponsible. They show no amount of empathy or guilt or regret for their actions,” says Koenigs.
Understanding the basic processes of what happens in the normal brain - and what goes wrong in diseases such as Parkinson's - is one of the research goals of Michele Basso, associate professor of physiology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health...
"We are trying to understand the faulty decision-making in Parkinson's, and in the bigger picture, to understand the brain mechanisms that underlie the higher decision-making processes," she says.
A $1.57 million federal grant will allow University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientists to determine if they can use non-invasive scans to determine which patients are at highest risk for "silent strokes" that can lead to mental decline.
The five-year grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke will allow a team of researchers to study about 72 patients at risk of "silent stroke." Besides Dempsey and Varghese, other researchers on the grant are:
- Raghu Vemuganti, associate professor of neurosurgery
- Sterling Johnson, associate professor of medicine
- Thomas Cook, biostatistician
- Bruce Hermann, professor of neurology
- Howard Rowley, professor of radiology
- Mark Kliewer, professor of radiology
- Carol Mitchell, radiology researcher
Induced neural stem cells: Not Quite Ready for prime time
"Embryonic stem cells can pretty much be predicted," says Su-Chun Zhang. "Induced cells cannot. That means that at this point there is still some work to be done to generate ideal induced pluripotent stem cells for application."
"Based on a theory about how consciousness is generated, we expect to see a response that is both integrated and differentiated when the brain is conscious," says Giulio Tononi, professor of psychiatry. "When there is a loss of consciousness, either due to sleep or anesthesia, the response is radically different. We see a stereotyped burst of activity that remains localized and fades quickly."
"The idea that some anesthetics 'hijack' the natural sleep-promoting centers was proposed recently by others," says Robert Pearce. "While our present findings do not directly confirm this hypothesis, they are consistent with a set of shared mechanisms. That is, that the loss of functional connectivity between brain regions is a characteristic that sleep and anesthesia share, and that we think might be causal in the loss of consciousness in both cases."
Donated fat could play key role in Neurosurgery
"We thought, there is all this fat going to waste, is there a way to make it useful?" John Kuo said. "If you could clean, process and make fat non-immunogenic, then you could develop a product that you could get off the shelf when you needed it."