Tag Archive for Neuroscience

NS&B Alumni Speak to Students, Faculty About Post-Wesleyan Life

Dan Austin '08 speaks to students and faculty on "Research opportunities before graduate/medical school: The national Institutes of Health IRTA Post-Baccalaureate Fellowship," during the second Neuroscience and Behavior Symposium Feb. 20 in Exley Science Center. Austin was one of five NS&B alumni who returned to campus to speak at the symposium. While a student, Austin received university honors, the CBIA/CURE Bioscience Fellowship; and the Hawk Prize in Chemistry.

Dan Austin '08 speaks to students and faculty on "Research opportunities before graduate/medical school: The National Institutes of Health IRTA Post-Baccalaureate Fellowship," during the second Neuroscience and Behavior Symposium Feb. 20 in Exley Science Center. Austin was one of five NS&B alumni who returned to campus to speak at the symposium. While a student, Austin received university honors, the CBIA/CURE Bioscience Fellowship; and the Hawk Prize in Chemistry. He currently is a pre-doctorial fellow at the National Institutes of Health.

NSF, NIH Support Burke’s Development, Evolution Research

Ann

Ann Burke, associate professor of biology, received grants from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health to study amphibian systems.

Ann Burke, associate professor of biology, recently received a three-year, $395,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the development and evolution of the shoulder girdle using transgenic mice, frog and salamander.

The mice will be generated in collaboration with a lab at the University of Michigan and will allow Burke and her associates to turn off Hox genes, which are specific patterning genes, in specific sub populations of the embryonic mesoderm that make the musculoskeletal tissues.

Pictured is a three dimensional reconstruction of a mouse and chicken scapula. Ann Burke, associate professor of biology, received two grants that fund her research on the scapula's development.

Pictured is a three dimensional reconstruction of a mouse and chicken scapula. Burke is studying the scapula's development.

“Comparing the dynamics of gene expression and cell interactions during the formation of the pectoral region in a variety of embryos will help us understand the evolution of these musculoskeletal structures and the dramatic variations among vertebrate lineages associated with adaptations for different locomotor strategies, like swimming, scurrying, crawling and flying,” Burke explains.

The frog and salamander experiments will use transplants of mesoderm between wild type embryos and embryos that have Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) expressed in all their cells, allowing Burke and her associates to fate map mesodermal cell populations.

Fate mapping is determining which cellular structures in the embryo give rise to which adult structures.

“We do this by transplanting the embryonic structure from a labeled embryo (GFP in this case) into the same spot in an unlabeled embryo, and tracing the ‘fate’ of the labeled cells, that is which adult structure they end up in,” Burke says.

Burke also received a two-year $100,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to use the same amphibian systems (salamander and frog) to develop a model system for understanding body wall defects in humans.

The grants will provide funds for a team of researchers at Wesleyan working with Professor Burke on these projects, including a postdoctoral fellow, graduate students and undergraduates.

“Receiving these two new federal grants, plus a grant from the Eppley foundation earlier this year, is a remarkable accomplishment in any year, but particularly this year as funding levels have dropped precipitously,” says Jan Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior.

Naegele Honored by Congressman For Work in Bioscience

Jan Naegele

Jan Naegele

Jan Naegele, professor of neuroscience and behavior, professor and chair of biology, was honored for her innovative work in bioscience by the organization “We Work For Health” overseen by the Connecticut Consortium of Independent Colleges on May 18. Congressman Joe Courtney presented a plaque to Naegele’s designee, Deborah Hall ’11 at a ceremony in Cromwell, Conn.

Kirn’s Chapter on Avian Song Published in Neuroscience Book

Neuroscience of Birdsong.

Neuroscience of Birdsong.

John Kirn, chair and professor of neuroscience and behavior, professor of biology, director of Graduate Studies, is the co-author of a book chapter titled “Regulation and function of neuronal replacement in the avian song system.”

The chapter is published inside the book Neuroscience of Birdsong, released in 2009 by Cambridge University Press.

The book provides a comprehensive summary of birdsong neurobiology, and identifies the common brain mechanisms underlying this achievement in both birds and humans. Written primarily for advanced graduates and researchers, there is an introductory overview covering song learning, the parallels between language and birdsong and the relationship between the brains of birds and mammals; subsequent sections deal with producing, processing, learning and recognizing song, as well as with hormonal and genomic mechanisms.

The book was featured in Science Magazine in February 2009 in an article titled “Neuroscience: Singing in the Brain.”

Aaron Awarded $50,000 for Epilepsy Study

Gloster Aaron, assistant professor of biology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, received a $50,000 grant from The Epilepsy Foundation on Dec. 6 titled “STEP Regulation of Epileptogensis in the Hippocampus.”

Drugs prescribed to combat epilepsy can yield unwanted side effects. One reason that drugs have side effects is that they can affect almost every neuron in the brain, regardless of their roles in spreading seizures. Aaron will research ways target only the neurons that may be most important in stopping the spread of seizures. Previous work has shown that a certain protein, STEP, is found in select groups of neurons. One of those groups of neurons, the hilar interneurons of the hippocampus, is a crticial group with regards to epilepsy. By manipulating that protein, researchers can target that group of neurons, and hopefully gain traction in a selective therapy for preventing and curing epilepsy.