July 18, 2018

Announcement: Magnify the Mind

Brandeis has long had one of the best neuroscience programs in the country. Nobel Prize winner Michael Rosbash, MacArthur “genius” grant recipient Gina Turrigiano and world-renowned neuroscientist Eve Marder are all pioneers in the field. Their breakthroughs have helped transform our understanding of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and autism.

But to remain cutting edge — and continue to make advances in our understanding of human health — Brandeis needs to upgrade its microscopes. The university currently owns an aging fluorescence microscope that uses a technique called two-photon excitation to image intact brain circuitry in the living brain. This technique has allowed Brandeis researchers to study how genes and experience interact to produce functioning brain circuits. However, this equipment is no longer state-of-the-art because it uses old and slow scanning technology that takes only one image per second. This speed severely limits the type of research questions that can be answered.

The Brandeis National Committee would like to provide Brandeis with a next generation resonant scanning two-photon microscope. This new technology would enable Brandeis researchers to take 30 to 50 images per second. This increase in speed can be used to observe the brain much closer to its native processing speed, or can be used to take many photographs of the same tissue that can be averaged together to create very high resolution views, allowing Brandeis researchers to study structures as small as single synapses in the living brain.

Brain plasticity — how neurons react to changes in the environment — is one of the most important areas in brain research, understanding what brings about changes in behavior. When the processes responsible for plasticity malfunction, it can give rise to neurodegenerative illnesses. Resonant scanning will generate a trove of new insights and data to understanding why this happens.

Researchers at Brandeis will further be able to explore the role of molecules, dendrites and synapses in the brain and reveal operating principles. The Brandeis National Committee’s campaign to raise $500,000, launches July 1, 2018. Contact 781-736-7588 to donate today.

View the video here.

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