BRAIN 2015 Digest – 3/30 to 4/3/15

Neuro News 3/30/15 to 4/3/15

Monday March 30, 2015

Monday’s News focused on  some of the affiliated partners in the BRAIN Initiative.

Foundations

HHMI

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) invested more than $70 million to support the goals of the BRAIN Initiative during the past year, and plans a similar level of commitment in 2015.

HHMI supports the BRAIN Initiative at its Janelia Research Campus and in the laboratories of HHMI Investigators at universities throughout the United States. This investment has been focused on developing new imaging technologies and understanding how information is stored and processed in neural networks.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)

CNS Foundation

The Children’s Neurobiological Solutions Foundation is committing to expanding their Pediatric Brain Mapping Project and to developing mechanisms to connect their patients with ongoing or future clinical trials.

The Children’s Neurobiological Solutions Foundation (CNS Foundation) seeks to expedite the search for treatment and cures for children with neurological disorders as well as to provide important information to parents and patients on recent advances in pediatric neurology.

Pediatric Brain Mapping Project

Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation is committed to alleviating the suffering caused by mental illness by awarding grants that will lead to advances and breakthroughs in scientific research.

In recognition of the critical role that basic research plays in understanding the brain, the Foundation is committing to a $2 million increase in its annual support for the most promising young scientists nationwide conducting neurobiological research to support the goals of the BRAIN Initiative through its Young Investigator Grants.Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

Universities

University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute

The University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute focuses on unlocking the mysteries of normal and abnormal brain function.

The Brain Institute will support the efforts of more than 150 neuroscientists at the university and create seven new Centers, including the NeuroTech Center, which capitalizes on the University’s advances in brain-computer interfaces for paralyzed individuals, and the NeuroDiscovery Center, which will provide unique resources to enable innovative basic science research.

University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute. Scaife Hall, School of Medicine

University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute. Scaife Hall, School of Medicine

Carnegie Mellon ‘BrainHub’

The Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) BrainHub initiative spans across CMU’s colleges and schools, involving nearly 50 faculty and over 150 scientists.

A major facet of this initiative is increasing collaboration among faculty from disciplines such as computer science and engineering with those taking biological and behavioral approaches to neuroscience. Linking brain science to behavior via the application of machine learning, statistics, and computational modeling will be a hallmark of CMU’s efforts, along with commercialization of the new technologies and applications. Carnegie Mellon 'BrainHub'

UT System Neuroscience Institute

The U.T. BRAIN initiative funds $20 million in support of a virtual U.T. System Neuroscience and Neurotechnology Research Institute.

The institute’s purpose is to promote trans-disciplinary, multi-institutional research projects focused on neuroscience and neurotechnology challenges that will transform the fields of imaging, neurocomputation, and molecular mapping; the development of neuro-devices; and basic/translational/clinical investigations in intractable neurological diseases.

UT System Neuroscience Institute

UC Berkeley-Zeiss BrainMIC

University of California, Berkeley and Carl Zeiss Microscopy are investing $12 million to create the Berkeley Brain Microscopy Innovation Center (BrainMIC).

The BrainMIC will fast-track microscopy development for emerging neurotechnologies and will run an annual course to teach researchers how to use the new technologies. The UC Berkeley Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute is creating a program that will generate innovative devices and analytic tools in engineering, computation, chemistry, and molecular biology to enable transformative brain science from studies of human cognition to neural circuits in model organisms

UC Berkeley-Zeiss BrainMIC

University of Utah Neuroscience Initiative

The University of Utah Health Sciences has committed $10 million to launch a Neuroscience Initiative that will catalyze interdisciplinary approaches to neuroscience research.

The goal is to deepen the understanding of the function and disorders of the nervous system and to improve patient care through innovation and integration of basic, translational, and clinical research efforts. Initial funds will be used to create a “neuroscience hub,” including space for collaborative research and neuroscience training.University of Utah Neuroscience Initiative

Boston University’s new CILSE

Boston University is creating a new Center for Integrated Life Science and Engineering (CILSE) for interdisciplinary research which will bring together outstanding scientists and engineers from across the University to work collaboratively in the areas of neuroscience and biological design.

CILSE will comprise 170,000 square feet. Its core resources will include a shared equipment facility for Cognitive Neuroimaging. Three new research Centers will be launched including the Center for Systems Neuroscience and the Center for Sensory Communication and Neural Technology.

Boston University's new CILSE

Tuesday March 31, 2015

Tuesday’s  News focused on some of the affiliated partners in the BRAIN Initiative.

Foundations

Kavli Foundation

The Kavli Foundation is continuing its support for the goals of the BRAIN Initiative and for innovative brain research: Consistent with its commitment in 2013.

The Kavli Foundation, based in Oxnard, California, is dedicated to the goals of advancing science for the benefit of humanity and promoting increased public understanding and support for scientists and their work. The Foundation’s mission is implemented through an international program of research institutes, professorships, and symposia.

Kavli Foundation

NGOs

Pacific Northwest NeuroNeighborhood

The Pacifici Northwest NeuroNeighborhood is dedicated to fostering the development of our emerging Neuro-related cluster in the Northwest.

The Northwest NeuroNeighborhood includes the University of Washington, the Allen Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, and 50 companies based in Oregon and Washington. A pilot BRAIN Initiative ‘regional cluster’ this year will bring together the research, clinical, industry, academic, education, public, and advocacy communities around the BRAIN Initiative themes.

Pacific Northwest NeuroNeighborhood

 

Companies

Inscopix

Inscopix believes that uncovering causal neural circuit dynamics is the key to truly understanding the brain.

Inscopix recognize that current challenges in studying brain function and dysfunction are handicapped by the inability to monitor large groups of neurons at single-cell resolution. Inscopix understands the need to acquire large-scale neural circuit activity data in naturally behaving subjects. With their flagship miniaturized microscope system, nVista HD, Inscopix is enabling you to gather unprecedented data sets in any brain area in awake behaving subjects, to make breakthrough scientific discoveries.

Inscopix nVista HD, miniaturized microscope system

Inscopix nVista HD, miniaturized microscope system

GSK Bioelectronics R&D

OOur vision for bioelectronic medicines is one of miniature, implantable devices that can be attached to individual peripheral nerves anywhere in the viscera.

Such devices would be able to decipher and modulate neural signalling patterns, bringing about therapeutic effects targeted at single functions of specific organs. GSK operates an exploratory research funding program; we have established a $50 million venture arm dedicated to technology and early bioelectronic treatment manifestations and an innovation challenge focussed on rapidly bringing visceral nerve research platforms to the community.

Creating medicines that speak the electrical language of the body. In parallel with molecular control, the nervous system and its electrical signals is a fundamental axis of regulation in our bodies, with nerves connecting to virtually every organ. Technological advances have brought us to the cusp of being able to tap into the nerves that control organs. By doing so, we hope to intelligently modulate disease states using bioelectronic, in addition to molecular, medicines.  GSK Bioelectronics R&D.

Creating medicines that speak the electrical language of the body. In parallel with molecular control, the nervous system and its electrical signals is a fundamental axis of regulation in our bodies, with nerves connecting to virtually every organ. Technological advances have brought us to the cusp of being able to tap into the nerves that control organs. By doing so, we hope to intelligently modulate disease states using bioelectronic, in addition to molecular, medicines.
GSK Bioelectronics R&D.

Google and The BRAIN Initiative

Google engineers are building tools and developing infrastructure to analyze petabytescale datasets generated by the BRAIN Initiative.

Google is working closely with the Allen Institute to develop scalable computational solutions to advance scientific understanding of the brain and with Janelia Research and several academic partners. Google is building the software tools and supporting infrastructure needed to analyze the datasets generated by the BRAIN Initiative to better understand the brain’s computational circuitry and the neural basis for human cognition.

Big Data Analytics with Google Cloud Platform.  From Slide Share by William Vambenepe Google Cloud Platform Lead Product Manager

Big Data Analytics with Google Cloud Platform.
From Slide Share by William Vambenepe Google Cloud Platform Lead Product Manager

GE Brain Health Initiative

GE has launched a new Brain Health Initiative linking numerous entities within the company such as GE Healthcare, GE Ventures & Healthymagination, and GE’s Global Research Center.

The Initiative will build on and coordinate multiple efforts within the company, including corporate venture capital, open innovation, R&D, and health care lines of business. This includes previously announced efforts at GE, such as the work that the company has done to convene the traumatic brain injury community and support for “Brain Trust” meetings of thought leaders.

Head Health Challenge- a $60 million open innovation challenge, in partnership with the National Football League and Under Armour, to develop both next-generation imaging technology and algorithms and to provide better devices and gear for brain protection. Part of GE’s new Brain Health Initiative

Head Health Challenge- a $60 million open innovation challenge, in partnership with the National Football League and Under Armour, to develop both next-generation imaging technology and algorithms and to provide better devices and gear for brain protection. Part of GE’s new Brain Health Initiative

Photonics Industry Neuroscience Group

Leaders of the National Photonics Initiative (NPI), an alliance of top scientific societies uniting industry and academia to raise awareness of photonics, launched its Photonics Industry Neuroscience Group at the White House BRAIN Initiative launch conference.

Members of the NPI industry group are committing to invest upwards of $30 million in existing and future research and development spending over the next three years to advance optics and photonics technology in support of the White House BRAIN Initiative.

Photonics Industry Neuroscience Group

Photonics Industry Neuroscience Group

 

Wednesday April 1, 2015

Wednesday’s  News focused on some of the affiliated partners in the BRAIN Initiative.

Organizations

OSTP

The US Congress established the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in 1976 with a broad mandate to advise the President and others within the Executive Office of the President on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs.

The 1976 Act also authorizes OSTP to lead interagency efforts to develop and implement sound science and technology policies and budgets, and to work with the private sector, state and local governments, the science and higher education communities, and other nations toward this end.

Images are from OSTP Grand ChallengesUpper left: NIH, DARPA, and NSF’s BRAIN Initiative;  Upper right: NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge; Lower right: DOE’s SunShot Grand Challenge; . Lower left: USAID’s Grand Challenges for Development, including Saving Lives at Birth

Images are from OSTP Grand Challenges
Upper left: NIH, DARPA, and NSF’s BRAIN Initiative; Upper right: NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge; Lower right: DOE’s SunShot Grand Challenge; . Lower left: USAID’s Grand Challenges for Development, including Saving Lives at Birth

NSF

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences.

NSF keeps the United States at the leading edge of discovery in areas from astronomy to geology to zoology. In addition to funding research in the traditional academic areas, the agency also supports “high-risk, high pay-off” ideas, novel collaborations and numerous projects that may seem like science fiction today, but which the public will take for granted tomorrow.

Images from NSF home page (Science 360 news stories) Upper left: Springtime night lights: Finding the aurora; Upper right: Honey bees use multiple genetic pathways to fight infections; Lower right: Researchers improve efficiency of human walking; Lower left: Wearable sensors to monitor triggers for asthma, and more.

Images from NSF home page (Science 360 news stories)
Upper left: Springtime night lights: Finding the aurora; Upper right: Honey bees use multiple genetic pathways to fight infections; Lower right: Researchers improve efficiency of human walking; Lower left: Wearable sensors to monitor triggers for asthma, and more.

FDA

FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.

FDA is also responsible for advancing the public health by helping to speed innovations that make medicines more effective, safer, and more affordable and by helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines and foods to maintain and improve their health.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration 10903 New Hampshire Avenue Silver Spring, MD 20993

U.S. Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20993

DARPA

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) mission is to create breakthrough technologies for US national security.

By making pivotal investments in new technology-driven ideas for the United States, DARPA imagines and makes possible new capabilities for overcoming the multifaceted threats and challenges that lie ahead. Looking back, precision guidance and navigation, stealth, unmanned aerial vehicles, night vision, and communications and networking are among the technologies that changed the face of war over the last two decades.

Images are from different DARPA Offices Upper left: Information Innovation & Cyber Office. Upper right: Biological Technologies Office; Lower right: Strategic Technology Office; Lower left: Microsystems Technology Office

Images are from different DARPA Offices
Upper left: Information Innovation & Cyber Office. Upper right: Biological Technologies Office; Lower right: Strategic Technology Office; Lower left: Microsystems Technology Office

IARPA

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) invests in high-risk, high-payoff research programs to tackle some of the most difficult challenges of the agencies and disciplines in the Intelligence Community (IC).

IARPA does not have an operational mission and does not deploy technologies directly to the field. Instead, IARPA facilitates the transition of research results to our IC customers for operational application.

The four IARPA Offices

The four IARPA Offices

NIMH

The mission of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure.

For the Institute to continue fulfilling this vital public health mission, it must foster innovative thinking and ensure that a full array of novel scientific perspectives are used to further discovery in the evolving science of brain, behavior, and experience. In this way, breakthroughs in science can become breakthroughs for all people with mental illnesses.

Images are from NIMH website “Clinics and Labs Overview” Upper left: Emotion and Development Branch Upper right: Experimental Therapeutics & Pathophysiology Branch Lower right:Genetic Epidemiology Research Branch Lower left: Child Psychiatry Branch

Images are from NIMH website “Clinics and Labs Overview”
Upper left: Emotion and Development Branch
Upper right: Experimental Therapeutics & Pathophysiology Branch
Lower right:Genetic Epidemiology Research Branch
Lower left: Child Psychiatry Branch

NINDS

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease.

NINDS supports and performs basic, translational, and clinical neuroscience research; funds and conducts research training and career development programs to increase basic, translational and clinical neuroscience expertise; and promotes the timely dissemination of scientific discoveries and their implications for neurological health to the public, health professionals, researchers, and policy-makers.

Upper left: Bibiana Bielekova, M.D. “We want to understand multiple sclerosis so that we can cure it.”  Upper Rigtht: A team led by Kevin Briggman is recording the activity of tens of thousands of individual neurons and preparing to create a sort of wiring diagram, a map that shows each cellular connection at the synapse.  Lower right: In 2012, NIH researcher Avindra Nath traveled to Uganda to investigate a mysterious illness striking children.  Lower left: NINDS scientists took a molecular-level journey into microtubules and how a protein called tubulin acetyltransferase (TAT) labels the inside of microtubules.

Upper left: Bibiana Bielekova, M.D. “We want to understand multiple sclerosis so that we can cure it.”
Upper Rigtht: A team led by Kevin Briggman is recording the activity of tens of thousands of individual neurons and preparing to create a sort of wiring diagram, a map that shows each cellular connection at the synapse.
Lower right: In 2012, NIH researcher Avindra Nath traveled to Uganda to investigate a mysterious illness striking children.
Lower left: NINDS scientists took a molecular-level journey into microtubules and how a protein called tubulin acetyltransferase (TAT) labels the inside of microtubules.

 

Thursday April 2, 2015

Today’s Neuro News is focused on posts about BRAIN Initiative grants and their associated principal investigators, labs, and institutions.

Grants

Drivers for neuron gene expression

Principal Investigator: Oliver Hobert
Columbia Neuroscience
Title: “Developing drivers for neuron type-specific gene expression”
BRAIN Category: Tools for Cells and Circuits (RFA MH-14-216)

Dr. Hobert and colleagues will create a highly selective technology for experimentally manipulating genes in neurons, by tapping into the regulatory machinery of individual cell types.

 Drivers for neuron gene expression

Optogenetic toolkit for control of cells

PI: Gregory Hannon, Hannon Lab
Institution: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Title: “An optogenetic toolkit for the interrogation and control of single cells.”
BRAIN Category: Tools for Cells and Circuits (RFA MH-14-216)

Dr. Hannon’s group will develop optogenetic techniques that use pulses of light to control genes and isolate proteins in specific cell types in the brain for molecular studies.

Optogenetic toolkit for control of cells

Investigators

Oliver Hobert

Professor Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, Columbia Neuroscience; HHMI Investigator
Director, Hobert Lab

Oliver Hobert studies molecular mechanisms that control the generation of the enormous diversity of cell types in the nervous system. Using Caenorhabditis elegans as a model system, his lab decodes genomic cis-regulatory information of gene batteries expressed in specific neuronal cell types and identifies trans-acting factors that act at various stages of neuronal development to impose specific terminal differentiation programs onto individual neuron types.

Oliver Hobert

Gregory Hannon

Professor at Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory & HHMI Investigator
Principal Investigator, Hannon Lab

Greg Hannon explores the processes that cells use to turn genes on and off. My work is focused on understanding a relatively new class of cellular pathways, governed by molecules known as small RNAs, that control gene activation and repression. Our studies of small-RNA biology in early development provide insights into human evolution, diversity, and diseases such as cancer.

Gregory Hannon

Labs

Hobert Lab

Principal Investigator: Oliver Hobert
Columbia Neuroscience

The main focus of the laboratory is to understand the molecular mechanisms that generate the astounding diversity of cell types in a nervous system. Using the C.elegans model system, they have revealed a core regulatory logic for how terminal neuronal identity is controlled in several different neuron types and have demonstrated that these regulatory mechanisms are conserved in chordates.

Hobert Lab

Hannon Lab

Principal Investigator, Greg Hannon
Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory

The Hannon Lab comprises a broad spectrum of programs in small RNA biology, mammalian genetics and genomics. The Hannon Lab studies RNAi and related pathways in a wide variety of organisms to extract common themes that define both the mechanisms by which small RNAs act and the biological processes which they impact. Current focus is on microRNAs, endogenous siRNAs and piRNAs and their roles in gene regulation, cancer biology, stem cell biology and in defense of the genome against transposons

Hannon Lab

Institutions

Columbia Neuroscience

Columbia Neuroscience is centered around the Kavli Institute for Brain Science and the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute with 70 labs in 15 different departments.

Cumulatively, the Columbia neuroscience community of world-class neurobiologists generates more research funding than any other group in the country. Among them are two Nobel Prize winners, KIBS Director Eric Kandel and KIBS Investigator Richard Axel; 11 Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators; eight members of the National Academy of Sciences; and 13 members of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

 Columbia Neuroscience

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) is a private, not-for-profit research and education institution at the forefront of molecular biology and genetics.

CSHL research generates knowledge that will yield better diagnostics and treatments for cancer, neurological diseases and other major diseases, and that will lead to improved and more diverse food resources and more efficient biofuels. The Watson School of Biological Sciences trains the next generation of scientists through an innovative Ph.D. program and other educational offerings.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Friday April 3, 2015

Today’s Neuro News is focused on posts about BRAIN Initiative grants and their associated principal investigators, labs, and institutions.

Grants

Optimization of 3-photon microscopy

Principal Investigator: Chris Xu
Cornell University
Title: “Optimization of 3-photon microscopy for Large Scale Recording in Mouse Brain”
BRAIN Category: Large-Scale Recording-Modulation – Optimization (RFA NS-14-008)

Dr. Xu and his collaborators will build new lasers and lenses to use three-photon microscopy to watch neuronal activity far deeper inside the brain than currently possible.Optimization of 3-photon microscopy

Mapping Sensory-Motor Pathways

Principal Investigator:
Neuroscience @ Caltech
Title: “Integrative Functional Mapping of Sensory-Motor Pathways”
BRAIN Category: Understanding Neural Circuits (RFA NS-14-009)

Dr. Dickinson will lead an interdisciplinary team to study how the brain uses sensory information to guide movements, by recording the activity of individual neurons from across the brain in fruit flies, as they walk on a treadmill and see and smell a variety of sights and odors.

Mapping Sensory-Motor Pathways

Principal Investigators

Tim Gardner

Assistant Professor of Biology in Boston University Department of Biology
Principal Investigator, Garder Lab

Gardner studies the mechanisms of temporal sequence perception and production, focusing on vocal learning in songbirds.The song circuit produces stereotyped structure over a range of time-scales from milliseconds to tens of seconds. He also develops minimally invasive electrodes that provide stable neural recordings in behaving animals.Tim Gardner

Chris Xu

Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dept. of Applied and Engineering Physics, Cornell University
Director, Xu Research Group

Xu’s research has two main thrusts: biomedical imaging and fiber optics. He is exploring new concepts and techniques for in vivo imaging deep into scattering biological specimens, such as mouse brain; developing new medical endoscopes for non-invasive real-time diagnostics of tissues without any exogenous contrast agent and novel optical fibers and fiber-based devices for biomedical imaging and optical communications.Chris Xu

Michael Dickinson

Zarem Professor of Bioengineering, Caltech Neuroscience
Director, Dickinson Lab

The aim of Dickinson’s research is to elucidate the means by which flies accomplish their aerodynamic feats. A rigorous mechanistic description of flight requires an integration of biology, engineering, fluid mechanics, and control theory. The long term goal, however, is not simply to understand the material basis of insect flight, but to develop its study into a model that can provide insight to the behavior and robustness of complex systems in general.Michael Dickinson

Labs

Laboratory of neural circuit formation

Principal Investigator, Tim Gardner
Boston University (Charles River Campus)

The Gardner lab studies the mechanisms of temporal sequence perception and production, focusing on vocal learning in songbirds. The Laboratory of neural circuit formation current research projects involve: Sensory-motor learning; High-density recording and stimulating microelectrodes, Electrode arrays for the central nervous system: tissue interaction; and Peripheral nervous system : chronic recording and stimulation for biolectric medicine.

Laboratory of neural circuit formation

Xu Research Group

Principal Investigator, Chris Xu
Cornell University

Xu Research Group has two main thrusts: biomedical imaging and fiber optics. The Group is exploring new concepts and techniques for in vivo imaging deep into scattering biological specimens, such as mouse brain; developing new medical endoscopes for non-invasive real-time diagnostics of tissues without any exogenous contrast agent and novel optical fibers and fiber-based devices for biomedical imaging and optical communications.

Xu Research Group

Dickinson Lab

Principal Investigator, Michael Dickinson
Caltech Neuroscience

The Dickinson Lab studies the neural and biomechanical basis of behavior in the fruit fly, Drosophila. We strive to build an integrated model of behavior that incorporates an understanding of morphology, neurobiology, muscle physiology, physics, and ecology. Although our research focuses primarily on flight control, we are interested in how animals transform sensory information into a code that controls motor output and behavior.

Dickinson Lab

 

Institutions

Cornell University

Neuroscience at Cornell University, Ithaca campus, emphasizes an integrated and interdisciplinary approach. The Program in Neuroscience spans several graduate fields and includes faculty affiliated with many departments.

Faculty researcg encompasses neuroscience from human cognition to biophysics, including diverse experimental and computational approaches using a variety of model organisms. Graduate students acquire expertise in their primary disciplines while cultivating a broader understanding of the bigger picture.

Cornell University

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