The Neuroscience Graduate Program and departmental colleagues once again headed to Bristol for our annual retreat at the Haffenreffer Estate. We welcomed nine incoming students, heard short talks from both local and NIH colleagues, enjoyed a traditional clambake, and played an intense game of Jeopardy. Great way to kick off the 2014-2015 academic year!
New students for 2014-2015 are: Matt Schiel (GPP), Dennis Burke (GPP), Valerie Estela, John Fisher, Julie Guerin, Diana Burk, Robyn St. Laurent, Veronica Ryan, and Ozan Baytas.
Organizers for the 2014 retreat were Liz McDonnell-Clark, Megan Leyrer, Torrey Truszkowski, and David Brandman (not shown).
It is unclear exactly when or how the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge started, but it is clear that this viral social media sensation has raised a ton of money for ALS research. For the past three years, the Hart Laboratory has worked with others in the NSGP to understand ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Here, we see the Hart lab participating in the ALS Challenge as a team and they have nominated three other labs to do the same: the Paradiso lab (Brown), the Fallon lab (Brown) and the Kraemer lab (SeattleVA/Univ. of WA). Also, please join the Hart lab in making a donation to the ALS Association here: http://webtx.alsa.org/site/PageNavigator/TX_7_donate.html
Matt Pescosolido, a rising 3rd year in the NSGP program, recently authored two papers that have now appeared. Working in the lab of trainer Eric Morrow, Matt and his colleagues have explored the effects of mutations in a neuroprotective protein (ADNP) on normal development. This work recently appeared in the Journal of Medical Genetics. Matt also led a research study along with David Stein, a former Brown Neuroscience undergraduate concentrator, characterizing the disorder known as Christianson syndrome. Their work, appearing in the Annals of Neurology, provides the first diagnostic criteria of this condition by doubling the number of documented cases and raising awareness of this condition that may affect tens of thousands of boys around the world.
Congratulations Matt and colleagues!
The results of this year’s NSF Graduate Fellowship Program have been announced and the Neuroscience Program is pleased to congratulate three new Graduate Research Fellows – Liz McDonnell Clark, Adam Nitenson, and Nate Snell – and three new Honorable Mentions – Nick Mei, Rachel Stevenson, and Torrey Truszkowski. It was a great year for Brown overall, with 10 new Graduate Fellows and 9 Honorable Mentions!
Laura (Bonaccorsi) Sciarra joins 8 other promising young scientists named as Weatherstone Fellows by Autism Speaks. The Weatherstone Fellowship Program honors Sir Dennis Weatherstone and his commitment to the education of young scientists beginning careers in autism research. Sciarra, who works with NSGP trainer Eric Morrow, will use the support to study endosomal sodium-proton exchangers – a cellular mechanism newly implicated in autism. This cellular pathway may contribute to problematic connections between brain nerve cells and may prove to be an important new treatment target. More information is available from the Autism Speaks website.
The NeuroPracticum laboratory course provides first-year Neuroscience Graduate Program students with a hands-on and in-depth opportunity to learn essential techniques at the bench, including electrophysiology, molecular biology, imaging, and behavior. The course is held at the Marine Biological Laboratories for 8 days in January each year and provides unique training for these students in a informal, and intense format. Before coming to MBL, students complete a semester of didactic course work. At MBL, they can put their new knowledge into practice and work side-by-side at the bench with Brown University and MBL faculty.
Why does this differ from “lab rotations” that Brown Neuroscience students undertake during the regular academic year? A student can only rotate in a few laboratories and learn a few techniques in the first year of graduate school. And, a given laboratory can only handle a few rotation students per year. The NeuroPracticum course allows Brown University NSGP and GPP students to have an intense and practical experience at the bench with techniques that are the basis of modern neuroscience,- working side by side with professors who are expert in the techniques and systems. This intense experience integrates the practical with the theoretical; students understand both the strengths and limitations of techniques discussed in the classroom only when they use these techniques. The intense format of the course creates remarkable bonding among the faculty and students.
Michelle Fogerson and colleague Lauren Quattrochi (MPP), both graduate students in the Berson Lab, were awarded the Reginald D. Archambault Award for Teaching Excellence for their summer course entitled: “Drug Discovery: Treating Human Disease through Medicine”. The summer students found the course both inspiring and thought provoking. The prize will be officially presented in May.
The Brown Neuroscience Program had another strong showing at the annual Society for Neuroscience Meeting in San Diego. All of our first year students traveled to the meeting along with many other grad students, postdocs and faculty trainers. In addition to taking in plenty of science, the Brown crew enjoyed a festive evening at the Tipsy Crow.
Congratulations to Gül Dölen (MD/PhD, 2008) , recently appointed as Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University; Heiða María Sigurðardóttir (PhD, 2013), recently appointed at the University of Iceland, on their new professional positions, and Rayna Carter (PhD, 2013), who has taken a position in the NIH Graduate Partnership Program Office.
NSPG faculty trainers, Dima Amso, Wael Asaad, Eric Morrow, Jerome Sanes, and Joo-Hyun Song will participate in a recently funded NIH COBRE Center for Nervous System Function. This $11 million five-year grant focuses on brain mechanisms of attention and decision making. Link to the following URL for more information.