Grant Will Support Epilepsy Therapy Study at Wesleyan

Gloster Aaron, Jan Naegele and Laura Grabel.

Gloster Aaron, Jan Naegele and Laura Grabel.

Three Wesleyan professors have been awarded a four-year, $1.49 million grant by the state of Connecticut’s Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee. The grant will help fund research on using human embryonic stem cell-derived GABAergic neurons for epilepsy therapy, which is being conducted by Janice Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, Laura Grabel, Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, Professor of Biology, and Gloster Aaron, associate professor of biology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior.

This grant was the largest single award to researchers in this year’s competition. Only 23 projects were selected to receive funds from a pool of 109 applicants.

“The potential to treat neurological disorders with human embryonic stem cell-derived neurons is enormous and relatively untested,” Naegele said. “The long-term goal of our research is to develop human stem cell-based cures for treating neurodegeneration, seizures and cognitive impairments in temporal lobe epilepsy.”

In patients who have an initial precipitating event, such as a head trauma, a severe seizure can cause a loss in inhibitory GABAergic interneurons. This, in turn, can dispose an otherwise normal brain to generate spontaneous seizures, a condition known as temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). These spontaneous seizures can further damage the hippocampus and lead to memory loss and other cognitive and emotional disturbances. Because nearly one-third of TLE patients are unable to control their seizures with drugs, Naegele, Grabel and Aaron are seeking novel, stem cell-based treatments for the disease.

They have developed methods for producing GABAergic progenitors from mouse and human embryonic stem cells. In their proposal for their grant, they proposed three projects to thoroughly evaluate grafts of these neurons in mice with temporal lobe epilepsy. In addition to the collaboration between the three Wesleyan labs, the researchers have established collaborations with colleagues at the University of Connecticut Health Center and the Yale University School of Medicine to provide additional expertise for this project.

Newman’s Own Foundation Supports Patricelli Internships

The Newman’s Own Foundation awarded Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship a $30,000 grant on June 17. The award will fund grants for students doing unpaid internships or other extra-curricular experiences in social justice, corporate responsibility, international development, and related fields.

Oladapo ’14 Receives Patricelli Enrichment Grant

Oladoyin Oladapo ’14

Oladoyin Oladapo ’14

Oladoyin Oladapo ’14 received a $500 Enrichment Grant in 2013 from the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. This funding allowed her to get private training in HTML and JavaScript, which she will use in her entrepreneurial endeavors.

During spring break, she spent time learning programming languages with Brian Macharia ‘14, a computer science major who has professionally developed websites for companies and students internationally since he was 14.

“Learning to code in this short time was rigorous and challenging. I worked from 9 to 5 learning code. I worked on HTML for the first three days. This language was relatively easy for me, but JavaScript was a lot more difficult. There were many times I wanted to quit and give up but by the end of the day, the concepts made more sense to me. At the end of the two weeks, I was able to build a website, on my own! It was a very basic interface but I was proud of myself nonetheless,” she said.

Learn more about the grant online here.

NCAA Awards Wesleyan Athletics with a Ethnic Minority and Women’s Internship Fund

Mike Whalen, director of athletics and chair of the Physical Education Department, head coach of football, received a grant worth $40,200 to support an ethnic minority and women’s internship. The award was granted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and will support the internship through May 2015.

NCAA Division III strives to be a dynamic and engaging group of colleges, universities and conferences of varying sizes and missions, committed to an environment that encourages and supports diversity and inclusion, values fairness and equity, and places the highest priority on the overall educational experience of the student-athlete in the conduct of intercollegiate athletics.

To facilitate this effort, Division III continues to support the internship grant program with its member institutions and conference offices, to provide monetary grants for those institutions and conference offices seeking to create professional administrative opportunities for minorities and women, and to enhance diversity and inclusion within their athletics administrative staffs.

NEFA Supports Bharata Natyam Dancer at Navaratri Festival

The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) National Dance Project presented Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts with a $4,500 grant on May 7. The grant will support a presentation and bharata natyam dance by Sannidhi Aparna Ramaswamy during the 2013 Navaratri Festival. Lead funding for this project comes from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Foundation Funds 2 CFA Dance Company Performances

The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) National Dance Project awarded Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts with a $10,000 grant on May 7. The grant will support two presentations of “Times Bones” by the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company in January 2014. Lead funding for this project comes from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Hussain ’13 Receives Roosevelt Institute Research Grant

Sophia Hussain '13

Sophia Hussain ’13

History major Sophia Hussain ’13 received a $500 grant from the Grants Award Committee of the Roosevelt Institute.

According to David Woolner, Senior Fellow and Hyde Park Resident Historian of the Roosevelt Institute, “the Roosevelt Institute does not normally grant awards to undergraduate students, but given the quality of Sophia’s proposal, which was excellent, we decided to make an exception in [her] case.”

The award is meant to assist Hussain’s research at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.


Liberty Bank Foundation Supports Kindergarten Kickstart

The Liberty Bank Foundation has awarded a grant of $30,000 over three years to support the Kindergarten Kickstart program, a summer pre-K program that is a collaborative partnership between Assistant Professor of Psychology Anna Shusterman’s lab, MacDonough Elementary School, North End Action Team (NEAT), and the Connecticut State Department of Education’s Family Resource Center. The program was piloted for the first time last summer at MacDonough.
The grant will provide about 50 percent of the program’s operating cost for each of the next three years, and allow the program to expand to two locations. Each site will be staffed by three Wesleyan students and one certified teacher with experience in the Middletown elementary schools.
Read more about the Kindergarten Kickstart program in this Wesleyan Connection story.

NSF Supports Holmes’ Gene Expression Research

Scott Holmes, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, received a $5,125 National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates supplement to enhance his current grant, which supports research titled, “Epigenetic Silencing of Gene Expression in Saccharomyces Cerevisiae.”

Naegele Received NIH Award for Epilepsy Research

Janice Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, received a $484,788 National Institutes of Health Academic Research Enhancement Award for her work on “Stem Cell Transplation for Epilepsy” in 2013.