Microscopy (2): studying molecular motors

An article in Cell by recent Molecular and Cell Biology Ph.D. graduate Susan Tran and coworkers demonstrates the power of single particle microscopy in combination with Drosophila genetics in studying molecular motors. Studying lipid droplet movement in embryos, they show that multiple motors are attached to droplets in vivo. Surprisingly, having multiple motors per droplet in vivo doesn’t result in higher velocities or distances traveled.

Microscopy (1): Quant Bio Instrumentation Lab

Want to learn the principles of microscopy? Jeff Gelles writes:

Dear Life Sciences Ph.D. students,

This semester we will again be teaching the Quantitative Biology Instrumentation Lab course, QBIO 120b.  This course, now in its third year, was developed with funding from HHMI.  The course aims to give Ph.D. students who use (or will use) optical instruments in their research practical, hands-on training in the principles and practice of light microscopy (both phase and fluorescence), absorbance spectroscopy, and fluorescence spectroscopy.  A syllabus is attached.

The course is open to all students whether or not they participate in the Quantitative Biology program.  However, space in the course is limited, so it would be a good idea for students who want to enroll to email me prior to the first meeting, which is Wed. January 14 at 2:00 in Abelson 335.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Jeff Gelles

Also, don’t forget about the Quantitative Biology Bootcamp next weekend.

Justice Brandeis will be on a US postage stamp

It’s been a slow news week, not much to report.

In random, almost sort-of-relevant news, Justice Brandeis (for whom our university is named) will be on a USPS postage stamp in September.

Simulating viral capsid assembly

Viral capsids assemble into complex structures with high fidelity, but also can adapt when given other nucleic acids cargoes to package. In a recent paper in Nano Letters, Brandeis physics grad student Oren Elrad and Professor Michael Hagan used computer simulations to investigate the mechanisms by which this occurs. These simulations were done on the Brandeis High Performance Computing cluster.

How long does it take the brain to access short-term memory?

A recent paper in Neuroimage by Brandeis Neuroscience Ph. D. program alumnus Yigal Agam, Professor Robert Sekuler and coworkers attempts to answer the question. To identify the earliest neural signs of recognition memory, they used event related potentials collected from human observers engaged in a visual short term memory task.  Their results point to an initial feed-forward interaction that underlies comparisons between what is being current seen and what has been stored in memory.  The locus of these earliest recognition-related potentials is consistent with the idea that visual areas of the brain contribute to temporary storage of visual information for use in ongoing tasks. This study provides a first look into early neural activity that supports the processing of visual information during short-term memory.

Neuroscience in Bristol (UK)

James Hodge, a former postdoc from the Griffith lab here at Brandeis, is now running a lab at the University of Bristol in England. James is looking for a qualified postdoc to work on molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity and learning using Drosophila.

Click here to read full details.

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