Sleep and memory are connected by a pair of neurons in Drosophila

In a recent post on the Fly on the Wall blog, Neuroscience grad student Bethany Christmann talks about recently published research from Leslie Griffith’s lab:

 … [How are sleep and behavior] connected in the brain? Does sleep simply permit memory storage to take place, such that the part of the brain involved in memory just takes advantage of sleep whenever it can? Or are sleep and memory physically connected, and the same mechanism in the brain is involved in both? In a recent study published in eLife, researchers in the Griffith lab may have [uncovered the answer]. They found that a single pair of neurons, known as the DPM neurons, are actively involved in both sleep and memory storage in fruit flies.

Haynes PR, Christmann BL, Griffith LC. A single pair of neurons links sleep to memory consolidation in Drosophila melanogaster. eLife. 2015;4.

Pioneering geneticist Frederick Alt ’71 wins 44th Rosenstiel Award

Geneticist Frederick Alt ’71 will be awarded the 44th Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Biomedical Science by Brandeis University for his pioneering research exploring the mechanisms of genomic instability and its implications for the immune system and cancer cells. Alt is the second alumnus to win the Rosenstiel Award; the first, Rod McKinnon ’78, won the Rosenstiel in 1999 and went onto win the Nobel Prize in 2003. Learn more on Brandeis Now …

Why we love basic research

Brandeis PhD students Jonathan Napoline (Graduate Program in Chemistry, Thomas lab) and Sara Haddad (Graduate Program in Neuroscience, Marder lab) tell PBS NewsHour why they’re excited about basic research



Making a gold studded protein ring

PLEASE NOTE: the paper by Anthony et al. in Structure was subsequently retracted due to the discovery of research misconduct by its first author, see

In economically turbulent times gold is acquired and held onto as a stable, secure commodity – it’s the “gold standard”. Gold of course has been a source of wealth as a precious metal and source of beauty. Importantly, gold is an incredibly dense and malleable transition metal that maintains its beauty and strength over long time periods, existing as a stable pure solid. Gold has also been an important subject of study and use in life science applications as well as in the physical sciences and in the clinical realm – not only as a source for fillings or a bridge after the dentist deals with your teeth issues!

Kelsey Anthony, a doctoral student in the Brandeis Biochemistry program as well at the Quantitative Biology program, has been working with gold in the Pomeranz Krummel lab to study biopolymer structure. The properties of gold most important in these applications are that it is a pure and stable solid, forms monodisperse spheroidal aggregates, is electron dense, and has the property of anomalously scattering x-rays at specific wavelengths. All these properties combined make gold an optimal metal to be “visualized”. In her most recent application of gold, in press in the journal Structure, Kelsey collaborated with a group at the University of Osnabruek in Germany in the synthesis of a reagent conjugated with monodisperse gold clusters or nanoparticles (called AuNPtris-NTA, see figure) and employed this reagent to localize protein(s) of interest in large multi-protein assemblies.


The experiment most visually striking to demonstrate the utility of this new “gold reagent” involved attaching it to a protein that interacts with itself to form a ring shaped structure. When visualized using the electron microscope, the gold clusters or nanoparticles site-specifically attached to the protein appear as extremely dense black spots due to their significant scattering of electrons as a consequence of the gold’s electron dense structure.

In essence, Kelsey has created a stunning golden microscopic studded ring. Next up, employing this gold conjugated reagent in other new ways.

See: Anthony et al., High-Affinity Gold Nanoparticle Pin to Label and Localize Histidine-Tagged Protein in Macromolecular Assemblies, Structure (2014)

4th Annual Sprout Grants – Call for applications

Bring your research and entrepreneurial ambitions to life!

The Brandeis University Virtual Incubator invites member of the Brandeis Community (undergrads, grad students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, staff) to submit an application for a “Sprout Grant”. These grants are intended to stimulate entrepreneurship on campus and help researchers launch their ideas and inventions from Brandeis to the marketplace.

This spring we will be awarding $50,000 to be shared amongst the most promising proposals.

Come get your questions about the Sprout grant answered at one of our upcoming information sessions.

Info sessions:

Tuesday      February 18th    1pm – 2pm

Tuesday      February 25th    10am – 11am

Thursday     February 27th    11am – noon

Tuesday      March 4th          11am – noon

All information sessions will be held in the Shapiro science center 1st floor library, room 1-03 (the glass walled room near the elevators).

Deadlines: Preliminary applications are due on Friday, March 7th

Benefits of participation:

  • Teams that are selected to submit full applications will be given assistance in further developing their ideas into an effective business pitch.
  • Sprout grant winners will be connected with an experienced mentor, and given further assistance in getting their ideas to market by the Office of Technology Licensing.
  • Previous winners have come from many departments: Neuroscience, Biology, Biochemistry, Physics and Computer Science. Some of the funded technologies have resulted in patent applications and are moving towards commercial development. Read more about previous winners from your department here: Sprout winners 2011, Sprout winners 2012, Sprout winners 2013.

For more information go to our website ( or contact Melissa Blackman at

Quantum Field Theory: An Interdisciplinary Study Group

William Hicks, a grad student in Physics, writes:

    This semester, graduate students from a wide range of departments will be coming together to study quantum field theory (QFT) as part of the interdisciplinary IGERT program. QFT is a subject whose mathematical underpinnings crop up in a wide range of seemingly unrelated fields, and the study group hopes to take advantage of the varied backgrounds of its members. Mathematicians in the group can help provide mathematical rigor, while physicists can help supply the physical intuition for many of the otherwise abstruse corners of the subject.  Students from other disciplines will be able to broaden the discussion by showing how some of the techniques discussed also show up in their fields.

The study group will meet from noon to 1:00 every Wednesday in Goldsmith 226. All are welcome!

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