Drew named McKnight Scholar

Patrick Drew (PhD ’04, Neuroscience) has been named a 2012 McKnight Scholar Award recipient by the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience. Drew did his Ph.D. research at Brandeis with Larry Abbott, did a postdoc at UCSD with David Kleinfeld, and most recently has started up his own lab at Penn State as an Assistant Professor of Engineering Science & Mechanics, and as part of their Center for Neural Engineering. Drew’s lab is primarily focused on understanding the neural circuits and signaling pathways that dynamically route the brain’s blood supply. Understanding the regulation is not only important in itself, but it is involved in medical problems such as stroke and dementia, and because changes in blood flow form the basis for functional magnetic resonance imaging, from which changes in brain activity are inferred.

Children’s Leukemia Research Award to Fund Myosin Research

(from left to right) Director of Rosenstiel Center Jim Haber, Professor Carolyn Cohen, Dr. Jerry Brown, Anthony Pasqua, President of the Childrens Leukemia Research Association

On April 24, a Children’s Leukemia Research Association (CLRA) award was presented to Jerry Brown, a Senior Research Scientist who works with Carolyn Cohen at the Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center. The award will help fund research on structures of α-helical coiled-coils, in particular those from myosin implicated in certain leukemias. The α-helical coiled coil is a common dimerization motif in proteins and is implicated in many normal physiological as well as pathological processes. Many cases of acute myeloid leukemia involve the aberrant fusion of the transcription factor, CBFβ, to a long portion of the smooth muscle myosin rod, which is predicted from its amino acid sequence to form an α-helical coiled coil. A major aim of the proposed research is thus to crystallize and determine the atomic structures of the segment of the myosin rod nearest this fusion point, both in its normal unfused physiological state and when aberrantly fused to CBFβ. A related aim of the research is to understand how the conformations of α-helical coiled coils in general are affected by attached structures. Accomplishment of these aims may provide a structural basis for the rational design of drugs that can selectively disrupt the activity of the pathologically fused protein.

In addition to Dr. Brown and Professor Cohen, the award presentation was attended by their laboratory researchers Senthil Kumar, Ludmila Reshetnikova, and Elizabeth O’Neall-Hennessey, Rosenstiel Director James Haber, Brandeis Office of Research Administration Associate Director Patricia McDonough, Rosenstiel Department Operations Manager Anahid Keshgerian, CLRA President Anthony Pasqua, his daughter Susan (Pasqua) Bogue, a survivor of leukemia, and Nancy Golden and three of her children.   The award is named after another daughter of Nancy Golden, Amy Golden Uleis, who lost her battle with cancer at age 52 and was a graduate of Brandeis. The award presentation was accompanied by a photo-op and a small reception held at Rosenstiel.

Eve Marder wins 2012 Karl Spencer Lashley Award

photograph (c) American Philosophical Society 2012; Frank Margeson, photographer.

Professor Eve Marder was awarded  the 2012 Karl Spencer Lashley Award by the American Philosophical Society at their annual meeting in Philadelphia in April, “in recognition of her comprehensive work with a small nervous system, demonstrating general principles by which neuromodulatory substances reconfigure the operation of neuronal networks.” Marder, the Victor and Gwendolyn Beinfield Professor of Neuroscience, currently serves in the capacity of Head of the Division of Science at Brandeis, yet manages to direct and inspire an incredibly productive laboratory of students and postdocs who continue to extend our understanding how circuit function arises from the intrinsic properties of individual neurons and their synaptic connections, using their favorite model system, the  crustacean stomatogastric nervous system. This award follows close on the heels of the George A. Miller Prize from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, awarded in March 2012.

See also story at Brandeis NOW.

2012 Brandeis Achievement Awards

Four out of five 2012 recipients of Brandeis Achievement Awards are science majors.

  • Fiona Aguilar  (biology, Haber lab)
  • Daniel Boyle (biochemistry and neuroscience, Lovett lab)
  • Ariana Boltax (biology and chemistry)
  • Sara Shahanaghi (economics and mathematics)

For the full story, see Brandeis NOW.

Rosbash, Hall, and Young Honored with Canada Gairdner International Award

Brandeis science faculty members Michael Rosbash and Jeff Hall were named today as 2012 recipients of the Canada Gairdner International Award, one of the world’s top prizes for biomedical research. Together with Michael Young (Rockefeller Univ.), they were honored “for pioneering discoveries concerning the biological clock responsible for circadian rhythms”. The trio has previously been honored with the 2011 Louis Gross Horwitz Prize and the 2009 Gruber Neuroscience Prize for this research.

The Gairdner Foundation in Toronto began giving awards in 1959 to recognize and reward the world’s most creative and accomplished biomedical scientists. So far about a quarter of the recipients have gone on to win a Nobel Prize. Also honored this year (for other work) were neuroscientist Tom Jessell and immunologist Jeffrey Ravetch.

Hall is now Professor Emeritus of Biology, and his influence is felt strongly in the strong Drosophila genetics community at Brandeis even though his lab is gone. The Rosbash lab continues to be a force for innovation in research on circadian regulation and mRNA processing. To hear more about Rosbash lab research, come to Wednesday seminar on April 4, when Michael will be the speaker. The title of his seminar is: 37 years at Brandeis (but who’s counting): Gene Expression and Circadian Rhythms.

Here’s some video the Gairdner Foundation posted on YouTube:

More information about this story at the following sites:

Pololi receives leadership development award

Linda Pololi, Senior Scientist at the Women’s Studies Research Center, is the recipient of the 2011 Women in Medicine and Science Leadership Development Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges. Dr. Pololi serves as director and principal investigator for the National Initiative on Gender, Culture and Leadership in Medicine: C – Change. The goal of the Initiative is to foster change in the culture of academic medicine to support realizing the full potential of all faculty.

James P. Allison to deliver Gabbay Award Lecture

James Allison, PhD  from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center will receive the 2011 Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award in Biotechnology and Medicine “for his development of strategies for the treatment of autoimmune diseases and for immunotherapy of cancer”. The award, administered by the Rosenstiel Center at Brandeis, consists of a $15,000 cash prize and a medallion. Dr. Allison will deliver the award lecture on Mobilizing the immune system to treat cancer: Immune checkpoint blockade, on Monday, Nov 14, 2011 at 3:30 pm in Gerstenzang 121.

Allison and his lab are interested in the mechanisms that regulate T cell responses and using that understanding to improve clinical outcomes in areas ranging from autoimmunity, to allergy to vaccination to  tumor therapy.

Horwitz Prize for Hall, Rosbash and Young

Columbia University will award the 2011 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize to Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young “for their work on the molecular basis of circadian rhythms, the first demonstration of a molecular mechanism for behavior”. Hall is a Professor Emeritus of Biology at Brandeis, and Rosbash is an HHMI Investigator and Professor of Biology at Brandeis. The prize is awarded annually for outstanding basic research in biology or biochemistry. In the early 1980s, working at Brandeis, Hall and Rosbash combined their expertise in fly genetics and molecular biology to clone the Drosophila gene period, a key regulator of the circadian rhythm, as Young and his lab at The Rockefeller University did independently.

In subsequent years, research in the Hall and Rosbash labs at Brandeis led to transcriptional feedback models for the clock, discovery of additional genetic factors involved in the behavior, and discovery of neuroanatomical features involved in circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms have been found in a very wide variety of organisms, and seem to be important in metabolism and disease.

Hall and Rosbash will receive their award in November at  a ceremony at Columbia University.

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