Tag Archive for Naegele

Wesleyan Scientists Attend Connecticut Stem Cell Symposium

On April 3, several Wesleyan faculty, staff and students joined world-renowned stem cell researchers at the StemCONN 2013 symposium in New Haven. From right to left, Janice Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, Katharine Henderson, research assistant, and Chelsea Lassiter, PhD candidate in biology.

On April 3, several Wesleyan faculty, staff and students joined world-renowned stem cell researchers at the StemCONN 2013 symposium in New Haven. From right to left, Janice Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, Katharine Henderson, research assistant, and Chelsea Lassiter, Ph.D candidate in biology.

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.

Naegele to Direct Center for Faculty Career Development

Jan Naegele

Jan Naegele

Janice Naegele will become director of the Center for Faculty Career Development on July 1.

Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, has served as chair of the Biology Department, and has served on the Educational Policy Committee, Review and Appeals Board, the Graduate Liberal Studies Advisory Committee, the Life Sciences Building Committee, and the Writing Certificate Committee. She has published extensively in the areas of developmental neurobiology, stem cells and translational rodent models of neurological disorders. Her research explores genetic, small molecule, and neural stem cell based treatments for cognitive disabilities and epilepsy.

She currently serves on advisory committees for the Epilepsy Foundation and the American Epilepsy Society, and editorial boards for several scientific journals. She has received career development awards from the Klingenstein Foundation and National Science Foundation, and scientific research grants from the McKnight Brain Disorders Foundation, American Epilepsy Society, National Institutes of Health and Connecticut Stem Cell Research fund.

In addition to continuing the mentoring and teaching resources that are currently offered by the Center, Naegele plans to offer workshops to assist new faculty, including a survival skills workshop for science faculty as they set up their laboratories and establish funded research programs. She is also interested in expanding resources and mentoring to recruit and retain underrepresented minorities across the disciplines.

Naegele will be replacing current CFCD Director Sean McCann, chair and professor of English.

Naegele, Grabel Lauded for Stem Cell Research Contributions

Janice Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, and Laura Grabel, the Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, professor of biology, were recently honored in Hartford Magazine’s “Amazing Women” issue. Two of only 13 women selected this year for recognition, Naegele and Grabel were lauded for their contributions to the field of stem cell research.

The magazine’s profile of Naegele states: “The research conducted by Janice Naegele, who is professor of biology and neuroscience and behavior at Wesleyan University, is opening up new possibilities for treating epilepsy through stem cell therapy. Her work focuses on temporal lobe epilepsy, which often cannot be treated with anti-seizure medications.”

Grabel, the magazine notes, is a “leading stem cell researcher” who “has worked with embryonic stem cells for more than 20 years and has received grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Connecticut Stem Cell Research Fund, among others. As an advocate for human stem cell research, she has appeared before a subcommittee of the Connecticut General Assembly and has co-edited a book on biological ethics.”

Future Stem Cell-based Therapies for Treating Epilepsy Explored in 3 Biology Labs

Janice Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, and her lab manager, Stephanie Tagliatela, review the brain activity of four mice that are currently being treated for epilepsy using therapies developed and tested in the lab. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

For the roughly one-third of temporal lobe epilepsy patients for whom drugs are not an option, researchers at Wesleyan are paving the way for alternative therapies using stem cells.

Biology Department faculty members Gloster Aaron, Janice Naegele and Laura Grabel work together to create novel cell replacement therapies for temporal lobe epilepsy.

Faculty members Janice Naegele, Gloster Aaron and Laura Grabel, together with Xu Maisano, Ph.D. ’11, Elizabeth Litvina, B.A. ’10/M.A. ’11, and Stephanie Tagliatela, the lab manager in the Naegele lab, recently published a landmark study in the Journal of Neuroscience on the use of embryonic stem cells to treat temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). The researchers derived neural “parent cells” in culture from mouse embryonic stem cells, and transplanted them into the brains of epileptic mice. There, the transplanted cells differentiated into mature inhibitory neurons and successfully integrated and formed connections in the host brain over the course of several months.

The paper, published Jan. 4, is available to read online.

“In these experiments, we are attempting to repair an important region called the dentate gyrus, located deep inside the temporal lobe in the hippocampus. The structures affected in temporal lobe epilepsy are important for forming memories and controlling the spread of seizures throughout the brain. When inhibitory neurons in the hippocampus are injured or die off, seizures are able to spread into other brain regions, causing more severe seizures,” explains Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior.

Naegele, Aaron, Grabel, Xu ’11, Litvina ’11 Published in Journal of Neuroscience

An article written by three Wesleyan faculty and two alumni was published in the January 2012 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, 32(1): pages 46-61.

In “Differentiation and functional incorporation of embryonic stem cell derived GABAergic interneurons in the dentate gyrus of mice with temporal lobe epilepsy,” the authors describe embryonic stem cell derived neuronal transplants for treating temporal lobe epilepsy.

The authors include Jan Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior; Gloster Aaron, assistant professor of biology, assistant professor of neuroscience; Laura Grabel, the Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, professor of biology;  Xu Maisano Ph.D. ’11; and Elizabeth Litvina B.A./M.A. ’11. Xu was the lead author. This study is part of a larger effort between three biology labs (Naegele, Aaron, and Grabel) to study embryonic stem cell therapies for temporal lobe epilepsy.

In this large, multi-year study, the authors show that embryonic stem cell derived neurons can develop into the major type in inhibitory neuron that degenerates in severe temporal lobe epilepsy. Because these interneurons reside in a part of the hippocampus that controls the spread of seizures throughout the cortex, when these neurons are injured or die off, seizures are able to spread throughout the hippocampus and into other brain regions, causing a more severe seizure.

“We believe that these findings are of high importance for developing stem cell based treatments for brain repair and regeneration,” Naegele explains.

 

Vallo ’13 Studies Seizure Suppression, Teaches Local Students about Science

YouTube Preview Image

This summer, Mary Vallo '13 developed a needs assessment for the Epilepsy Foundation of Connecticut. She also volunteers in the Wesleyan Science Outreach club and plays intramural soccer. (Photo by Bill Tyner '13)

Q: Mary, what is your class year, and what are you majoring in?

A: I’m a junior, and I’m double-majoring in neuroscience and behavior and English.

Q: You’re currently working in the lab of Jan Naegele, professor of neuroscience and behavior, professor of biology. Can you tell us a bit about your research in the Naegele Lab?

A: The Naegele Lab studies temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), which involves instances of elevated electrical activity in the brain called seizures. In cases where medication does not alleviate seizures, TLE patients experience cell death and damage in the dentate gyrus, part of the hippocampal region of the brain. Using a mouse model of TLE, our goal is to replenish the damaged neurons via stem cell injections. And since seizure-related cell death especially affects a type of interneuron that normally inhibits electrical impulses, we hope that restoring those interneurons will help to suppress seizure activity.

Q: This summer, you participated in the Wesleyan University Hughes Program, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. What was your summer-long research project?

A: The project that I began over the summer analyzes brain sections from epileptic mice that have received stem cell transplants. I stain for a protein that marks transplanted cell axons and another protein called gephyrin that is found at inhibitory synapses. So far, I have found several instances where transplant axons overlap with gephyrin. These findings suggest that the stem cells form inhibitory connections that may contribute to seizure suppression.

Neuroscience and Behavior Capstone Focuses on Service

Mandela Kazi ’12 speaks about "The Human Connectome Project." Plastic model brains are arrayed on the table in front of him.(Photo by David Pesci)

“Let’s pass around the brains, but please be careful,” Jennifer Cheng ’11 says. “They break easily.”

Maryann Platt ’11 and Mandela Kazi ’12 hand out the brains, detailed plastic models with interlocking, removable pieces that allow anyone picking them up to study the organ’s specific areas.

“I don’t think you need to use the stands,” says Janice Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior.  “I think you can just give them the brains.”

The students nod and make a note and return to their presentation, titled “The Human Connectome Project,” which focuses on the brain, connectomes and the new 3-D technology being used to better map both. The presentation is a practice session that the other students in the class, Neuroscience and Behavior (NS&B) 360, watch and then give feedback. The real thing came a few weeks later in front of high school students, an event that the NS&B 360 students have been anticipating all semester.

NS&B 360 is a new offering this year, a combination capstone course – an intense, rigorous experience that is cumulative and requires students to draw on their previous coursework – as well as a service-learning course, which combines active learning with providing a service to the local community.

Naegele Published in Epilepsy Publications

Jan Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, is the author of “Tangled Roots: Digging Deeper into Astrocyte or Interneuron Dysfunction in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy,” published in Epilepsy Currents, Volume 11, Issue 1, 2011. The article is online here.

She’s also the author of “STEP Regulation of Seizure Thresholds in the Hippocampus,” published in Epilepsia by Wiley Publishers, 2011. The article is online here.

Naegele, Students Attend “Mysterious Brain” Forum

Janice Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neurosceince and behavior, and a group of Wesleyan students attended the Connecticut Forum on “The Glorius, Mysterious Brain” Feb. 25 at the Bushnell Theater in Hartford, Conn. The Connecticut Forum is a nationally recognized, nonprofit organization that offers live, unscripted panel discussions among renowned experts and celebrities, and community outreach programs. Nagele’s group listened to Autism advocate Temple Grandin, author and Harvard professor Steven Pinker and cognitive scientist Paul Bloom.

In addition, Michael Greenberg ’76, chair of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, spoke to Naegele’s students about “experience-dependent changes in gene expression.”

NIMH Supports Naegele’s Cellular Analysis Study

Jan Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, received a $100,000 from the National Institute of Mental Health for her research on “Molecular and Cellular Analysis of Brand-Enriched PTPs.” The grant will be awarded through March 2010. This is a renewal of a previous grant, which is subcontracted with Yale University.