Undergraduate authors

Brandeis is proud of its tradition of undergraduates working in science labs,  alongside grad students, staff and postdocs. This work often leads to publications in the primary scientific literature (see list of undergraduate publications).

The most recent of these, by Nicholas Hornstein and collaborators in the Griffith lab, appears in the Journal of Visualized Experiments. This new journal focuses on using streaming video to provide access to high quality demonstrations of lab procedures (in this case, demonstrating dissection technique for doing neurophysiology in Drosophila larvae).

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.

Channel proteins that aren't

What happens when you take an ion channel and remove all the parts that conduct ions? The answer might be surprising.

The Drosophila ether-à-go-go gene codes for a potassium channel involved in olfaction, learning, and locomotion. It is not solely a potassium channel, however. In a recent paper in Mol. Cell. Neurosci., Brandeis postdoc alum Xiu Xia Sun and Neuroscience grad student Lynn Bostrom from the Griffith lab show that an alternatively spliced form, Eag80, contains no channel domains and localizes to the nucleus. They further show that Eag80 can act to activate signal transduction pathways. This splicing can be stimulated by calcium and protein kinases, suggesting that this splice form may have a significant role in regulating neuronal function.

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.

Rise and shine, little fly

Most animals sleep, but why they sleep and how the brain generates sleep is mysterious. In a recent study published in Neuron, postdoc Katherine Parisky and colleagues use genetic tools to manipulate the activity of neurons that control sleep in flies. Their results demonstrate that in the fly sleep is generated by GABAergic inhibition of a small cluster of peptidergic neurons within the circadian clock. Flies carrying mutations in this peptide, PDF, or its receptor, are hypersomnolent, similar to human narcoleptics who have defective signaling by the peptide hypocretin/orexin. These results suggest that the circuit architecture used to control arousal is ancient.

See also:

Annual Neuroscience Migration

As usual for this time of year, the Neuroscience labs will clear out as everyone goes to the Society for Neuroscience meeting. Leslie Griffith will be giving a Presidential Special Lecture on Sleep: Studying a Human Behavior in an Insect (Monday, 5:15 pm).

Here’s a list of Brandeis-affiliated posters and presentations.

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