Philosophy and Cognitive Science

DescartesOne of our neuroscience faculty (an experimentalist) has mentioned repeatedly what a shame it is that neuroscience students know so little about philosophy. Here’s your chance to hang out with some philosophers and rectify that.

Kevin Lande, an M.A. Philosophy student at Brandeis, writes;

Several members of the Philosophy department and graduate program are forming an interdisciplinary reading group of  professors and graduate students to discuss issues in the overlap of the philosophy of cognitive science with research in cognitive science and neuroscience. This would be an opportunity for people in different areas, with different interests and perspectives, to come together to discuss contemporary research or foundational issues. Meetings may be monthly (or, depending on how it goes, more frequently), and may revolve around a selected reading or, if possible, a guest presentation by a researcher in the Boston area.

There will be an organizational meeting March 11 at 2:00, in the Danielson Room in the Rabb building, rm. 338. Please contact Kevin Lande (kjlande at brandeis dot edu) with questions.

Drosha and Pasha

No, this isn’t a Russian short story.

Lead authors postdoc alum Sebastian Kadener and Mol Cell Biol graduate student Joe Rodriguez and their coworkers used tiling arrays to look for targets of the enzyme Drosha in “Genome-wide identification of targets of the drosha–pasha/DGCR8 complex”, a paper recently published in the journal RNA. Drosha is a type III RNAse that is involved in the processing of  miRNAs. This paper demonstrates for first time that this enzyme is not only involved in miRNA processing, but can also process mRNAs.  Interestingly, the best example of an mRNA processed by Drosha is the mRNA that encodes another miRNA processing enzyme, the protein Pasha. As this is a partner of Drosha (the two proteins work together), the findings suggest that  there is a feedback loop that controls the abundance of the miRNA processing machinery and probably the abundance of miRNAs themselves.

Speaking of paperwork… (dissertations)

Dissertation Completion Workshop
Thursday, March 26, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Kutz Hall, Room 130

Are you submitting your dissertation for publication in the next year? Do you know the difference between Traditional and Open publishing Access? Should you restrict or embargo your work? Do you know which forms go to Registrar and which must be given to GSAS? All these questions and many others will be covered at this workshop.

Registration is required due to space limitations.

Tax Help 101

Mark Metevier from Student Activities wrote:

[…] I have found that a shocking number of our students do not know they have to file a federal and a state(s) tax return. HR Block has generously agreed to come onto campus on Wednesday at 3:00 PM in the SCC Multipurpose Room for a Tax Help Session. There will be a short presentation on what students should look out for as first time file-ers/ as student file-ers and of course there will be a questions and answer part. […] I had this presentation for my student employees last year and it was a huge help for all of them. I strongly suggest that all student [employees] attend.

How actin networks assemble in cells

A new review article in Current Opinion in Cell Biology by Molecular and Cell Biology grad student Melissa Chesarone and Biology’s Professor Bruce Goode focuses on a group of remarkable protein machines that rapidly assemble actin polymers in cells. These factors are essential for cell division, cell movement, and cell shape determination in virtually all organisms. Their catalytic mechanisms involve intricate fast-moving parts, which enables them to construct entire actin networks in a matter of seconds.

Recent Grant Awards

Neuroscience Ph.D. candidate Melanie Gainey received an NRSA Fellowship from NINDS. Working in the Turrigiano lab, Melanie plans to study the role of the AMPA receptor subunit GluR2 in synaptic scaling in cultural neurons and in vivo using a conditional GluR2 knockout mouse.

Assistant Professor Suzanne Paradis received a Smith Family New Investigator Award from the Richard & Susan Smith Family Foundation. $300,000 in support over three years will support the lab’s efforts to study synapse development and specifically the role of the Sema4B protein in controlling synapse formation.

Professor Leslie Griffith received $1.1 million over 5 years from NIMH to study why sleep is required for effective memory formation. To understand this linkage at a cellular and molecular level, the Griffith lab is defining the circuits that regulate sleep in Drosophila and how these circuits affect memory formation.

Professor Larry Wangh received $1.38 million over the next year from Smiths Detection to continue research and invention of LATE-PCR et al., platform technologies for highly informative detection and diagnosis of nucleic acids in a single tube.  There are ongoing projects looking at applications to cancer, prenatal genetics, and several infectious diseases in people and animals.

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