University of Pittsburgh

Department of Neuroscience

Past News, Events and Seminars

2009 Events and Seminars

Grant awarded to Dr. Georgina Cano - December 1, 2009

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Georgina Cano, a Research Assistant Professor in the Department, has been awarded a grant from the American Sleep Medicine Foundation entitled Potential Protective Role of Oxytocin in Primary Insomnia: Gender Differences on Sleep Parameters and Brain Activation among Males, Females, and Females with Offspring, effective December 1, 2009 - November 30, 2010.

Grant awarded to Dr. Katy Gill - December 1, 2009

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Katy Gill, a postdoc researcher in Dr. Anthony Grace's lab, has been awarded a three year NRSA grant, Amygdala Modulation of Hippocampus Accumbens Interaction Relevance to Depression, effective December 1, 2009.

 

 

PhD Dissertation Defense: Patryk Laurent

November 13 , 2009

Friday, 10:00 am

2nd Floor Auditorium, LRDC

CNUP PhD Defense, School of Arts and Sciences

Title: Basal ganglia involvement in the reinforcement learning of physical and cognitive actions

 

Department of Neuroscience Seminar:

November 12, 2009

Thursday, 4:00 p.m.

A219B Langley Hall

Linda Rinaman, PhD

Department of Neuroscience

University of Pittsburgh

Seminar Title: Postnatal Plasticity of Central Visceral Circuits

Sponsor: Department of Neuroscience

More Info »

 

PhD Dissertation Defense: Sara A. Guediche

October 27, 2009

Tuesday, 9:30 am

2nd Floor Auditorium, LRDC

CNUP PhD Defense, School of Arts and Sciences

Title: Adaptive Processes in Speech Perception: Contributions from Cerebral and Cerebellar Cortices

 

The Society for Neuroscience - Neuroscience 2009

October 17 - October 21, 2009

Chicago, IL

More Info »

 

University of Pittsburgh - Science 2009 Unplugged

October 15 - October 16, 2009

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Careers over Lunch: Survival Skills & Ethics Program - October 5, 2009

Title: Faculty Positions at Research Universities

S100 BSTWR

Monday, Noon - 1:30 pm

Dr. Alan F. Sved

Department of Neuroscience

University of Pittsburgh

More Info »

 

Grant Awarded to Paul G. Middlebrooks - September 1, 2009

Congratulations go out to Paul G. Middlebrooks, a PhD student in Dr. Sommer's lab, who has been awarded an NIH National Research Service Award entitled The Neural Basis of Metacognition.

Paul's two year proposal seeks to explore how the brain "thinks about thinking" to help understand how to treat patients with disorders such as schizophrenia, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.

 

23rd Annual CNUP Retreat

September 11-13, 2009

Oglebay Resort and Conference Center

Wheeling, West Virginia

More Info »

This year's speakers include:

John Maunsell, PhD

Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute;  Professor

Alice and Rodman W. Morrhead III Professor of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School

Using Microstimulation to Probe How Signals in Cerebral Cortex are Accessed

More Info »

Kenneth M. Johnson, PhD

Professor and Graduate Program Director, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Texas Medical Branch

Perinatal Phencyclidine Neurotoxicity as a Model for Antischizophrenic Drug Development

More Info »

Edwin W. Rubel , PhD

Virginia Merrill Bloedel Professor of Hearing Science

Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery

Professor of Physiology and Biophysics, Adjunct

Professor of Psychology, University of Washington

Experience and Auditory Brainstem Development: Signals, Cellular Events and Critical Periods

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Cristina Alberini , PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Neuroscience, Psychiatry, and Structural and Chemical Biology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

The Dynamic Process of Long-Term Memory Formation

More Info »

 

Grant Awarded to Dr. Sved - August 1, 2009

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Alan F. Sved has been awarded a new NSF grant, Viral Microdissection of Central Circuitry Integrating Autonomic Function . Along with Dr. J. Patrick Card, the three year project will examine the central neural circuitry controlling the autonomic nervous system. Using recombinant strains of pseudorabies virus that express unique reporter genes, the central neural pathways connected to multiple peripheral tissues in rats will be traced.  Particular emphasis will be placed on examining brain sites connected to both sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves, providing a potential circuitry for the coordinated regulation of these two divisions of the autonomic nervous system.  As a specific component of this research program, undergraduate research assistants will be recruited to participate in these studies.

 

Grant Awarded to Dr. Grace - August 1, 2009

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Dr. Anthony A. Grace, has been awarded a two-year grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, effective August 1, 2009, and entitled, Stress-Induced Alterations in Amygdala-LC Interactions.  By gaining a better understanding of the neurobiological consequences of adaptive responses, the project hopes to uncover the neurophysiological changes that take place within the limbic system that predisposes an individual to drug-taking behavior and contribute to relapse.

 

Master of Science Defense - Adam S. Olsen

July 23, 2009

Thursday, 2:30 p.m.

4075 Biomedical Science Tower 3
Seminar Title: Increased intra-individual response variability and attentional lapses after chronic cocaine self-administration
Sponsor: Department of Neuroscience

 

Master of Science Defense - Warren D. Anderson

July 15 , 2009

Wednesday, 1:30 p.m.

A219B Langley Hall

Seminar Title: Properties and Functions of Ih in Hippocampus Area CA3 Interneurons
Sponsor: Department of Neuroscience

 

Grant Awarded to Dr. Moghaddam - July 1, 2009

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Bita Moghaddam has been awarded a new NIH grant, Inhibitory Control of Prefrontal Cortex.

Awarded for five years, the $2 million dollar proposal examines prefrontal cortex (PFC) dysfunction as a fundamental aspect of the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.

 

 

Undergraduate Department News - 2009 Neuroscience Research Awards

The Department of Neuroscience is proud to announce the recipients of this year's research awards. Pictured below (from left to right) are Samuel Stoyak with the Excellence in Research Award, Daniel Mandell with the James E. Bradler, Jr. Award, and Steven Cassady with the Excellence in Research Award.

The James E. Bradler, Jr. Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research —named in honor of Jim Bradler, a former graduate student in the Department of Neuroscience. Jim’s undergraduate research experience changed his life and set him on the path to become a scientist. Jim died unexpectedly in 1990, and this award was created by the (then) Departmental Chair, Edward M. Stricker, to memorialize Jim’s life experience and to celebrate the transformational impact of research.

The Research Excellence Award—created by the Department in 2008 to recognize students who have excelled in the laboratory as evidenced by an unusually high level of productivity, profound commitment to completion of a research project, and great potential for a career in research.

 

Department of Neuroscience Seminar:

June 23 , 2009

Wednesday, 4:00 p.m.

A219B Langley Hall

Jen-Wei Lin, PhD

Department of Biology

Boston University

Seminar Title: Function of persistent Na current in a branching axon

Sponsor: Department of Neuroscience

More Info »

 

Ph.D. Dissertation Defense: Fujun Luo

June 23, 2009

Wednesday, 10:00 a.m.

A219B Langley Hall

CNUP PhD Defense, School of Arts and Sciences
Seminar Title: Experimental and Monte Carlo studies of Ca2+ channel function and fast transmitter release at presynaptic active zones of the frog neuromuscular junction
Sponsor: Department of Neuroscience

 

Grant Awarded to Dr. Rinaman - June 20, 2009

Dr. Linda Rinaman has been awarded a competing continuation grant for project, Central Viscerosensory Circuits - Structure and Function.

The five year project will test hypotheses about the structure and function of interconnected regions of the hypothalamus and limbic forebrain.  Experimental outcomes could lead to the development of new therapeutic options for treating stress-related emotional pathologies.

 

People of the Times

From the University Times, Volume 41, Number 19, May 28, 2009

Neuroscience grants awarded

The Department of Neuroscience recently announced two grants to faculty members:

Linda Rinaman has been awarded a $335,000 National Institute of Mental Health grant for “Early Life Experience Shapes Visceral Circuits.” The five-year research project will examine the interactions between infants and their mother (or primary caregiver) critical for normal growth and development, and perturbations that can disrupt physiological and behavioral functions in the offspring.

The proposed research will use anatomical and physiological methods in rats to test the hypothesis that the influence of early life events on later responses to stress and emotional events is linked to developmental plasticity of circuits that provide visceral sensory feedback to the brain and generate emotional expression.

J. Patrick Card has been awarded a four-year grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for “C1, Rostroventrolateral Medulla and the Central Integration of Cardiovascular Regulation.” Card is collaborating with department chair Alan Sved on the project, which looks at a distributed network of neurons in the central nervous system known to exert a regulatory influence over cardiovascular function and malfunction of the network that can produce hypertension.

Hypertension is a major risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease, but the way in which neuronal activity is coordinated within the central cardiovascular network is not known. This proposal tests the hypothesis that collateralized projections of C1 catecholamine neurons in the rostroventrolateral medulla provides the neural substrate for this integration.

 

Department of Psychology Seminar

June 3, 2009

Wednesday, 3:00 p.m.

2nd Floor Auditorium, LRDC

Anthony D. Wagner, PhD

Department of Psychology

Stanford University
Seminar Title: Resolving Uncertainty and Regulating Memory: Contributions from Frontal and Parietal Cortex

More Info »

 

Ph.D. Dissertation Defense: Michael W. Cole

June 3, 2009

Wednesday, 10:00 a.m.

2nd Floor Auditorium, LRDC

CNUP PhD Defense, School of Arts and Sciences
Seminar Title: The Biological Basis of Rapid Instructed Task Learning
Sponsor: Department of Neuroscience

 

Department of Neuroscience Seminar:

May 27, 2009

Wednesday, 4:00 p.m.

2nd Floor Auditorium, LRDC

Sacha B.Nelson , MD, PhD

Department of Biology

Brandeis University

Seminar Title: Physiological Genomics of Cortical Circuits in Health and Disease

Sponsor: Department of Neuroscience

More Info »

 

Ph.D. Dissertation Defense: Harvey M. Morris

May 27, 2009

Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.

2nd Floor Auditorium, LRDC

CNUP PhD Defense, School of Arts and Sciences
Seminar Title: Alterations in GABA-related transcripts in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of subjects with schizophrenia
Sponsor: Department of Neuroscience

 

Department of Neuroscience Seminar

May 22, 2009

Friday, 10:00 a.m.

A224 Langley Hall

Serena Marie Dudek, PhD

National Institute of Neurobiology

Laboratory of Neurobiology, North Carolina
Seminar Title: Regulating Synaptic Stability (and the lack thereof) in the Developing Nervous System

More Info »

 

Ph.D. Dissertation Defense: Catherine Dunn

May 12, 2009

Tuesday, 10:00 a.m.

A221 Langley Hall

CNUP PhD Defense, School of Arts and Sciences
Seminar Title: How the Brain Constructs Stable Visual Representations: Cortical and Subcortical Mechanisms
Sponsor: Department of Neuroscience

 

Department of Neuroscience Seminar

May 11, 2009

Monday, Noon

A219B Langley Hall

Michele Basso, PhD

Department of Physiology

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Seminar Title: Neuronal Mechanisms of Action Choice in the Primate Brain

Sponsor: Department of Neuroscience

More Info »

 

Department of Neuroscience Undergraduate Graduation Breakfast

April 26, 2009

Sunday, 9:00 a.m.

Pittsburgh Athletic Association - Walnut Room

Sponsor: Department of Neuroscience and the School of Arts and Sciences

 

PHI BETA KAPPA Induction

April 25, 2009

Bravo to the following Neuroscience undergraduate students who make up 35% of University chapter nominees. These students have attained the highest level of academic achievement in undergraduate studies in the liberal arts and sciences:

  • Andrew Abbott
  • Steven Cassady
  • Erica Ciminelli
  • Corey Clyde
  • Angela Hattemer
  • Ashley Lafata
  • Mary Ellen Lisman
  • Benjamin Pollock
  • Rajiv Reddy
  • Lauren Salesi
  • Randjodh Singh
  • Julie Steinbrink
 

Initiation will be held in the Teplitz Memorial Courtroom, Law School Building on Saturday, April 25, 2009, 7:30 pm.

 

Department of Neuroscience Seminar Series

April 22 , 2009

Wednesday, 1:00 p.m.

A221 Langley Hall

Leslie Ungerleider, PhD

National Institutes of Mental Health

Seminar Title: Neural Mechanisms of Perceptual Decision Making in the Human Brain

More Info »

 

People of the Times

From the University Times, Volume 41, Number 16, April 16, 2009

David A. Lewis, professor of translational neuroscience and psychiatry, and David Volk, assistant professor of psychiatry, received the American Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education Kempf Fund Award for Research Development in Psychobiological Psychiatry.

This award honors research excellence in the physiological, psychological and/or sociological causes and treatment for schizophrenia.

 

Neuroscience Undergraduates

April 8, 2009

Congratulations to the following Neuroscience undergraduates! These students were among 60 Pitt undergrads to present posters for the April 8, 2009 University Honors College Undergraduate Research Fair:

 

Grant Awarded to Dr. Card

April 1, 2009

We are pleased to announce that Professor, J. Patrick Card, has been awarded a four-year grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, effective April 1, 2009, and entitled, “ C1, Rostroventrolateral Medulla and the Central Integration of Cardiovascular Regulation”.  Dr. Card is collaborating with Pitt colleague, Dr. Alan Sved, Professor and Chairman of the department and Dr. Mohan Raizada, University of Florida.  The project looks at a distributed network of neurons in the central nervous system known to exert a regulatory influence over cardiovascular function and malfunction of the network that can produce hypertension, a major risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease. However, the way in which neuronal activity is coordinated within the central cardiovascular network is not known. This proposal tests the hypothesis that collateralized projections of C1 catecholamine neurons in the rostroventrolateral medulla provides the neural substrate for this integration.

 

Grant Awarded to Dr. Rinaman

March 20, 2009

We are very pleased to announce that Dr. Linda Rinaman has been awarded a new grant, Early Life Experience Shapes Visceral Circuits. The five year project will examine the interactions between infants and their mother (or primary caregiver) which are critical for normal growth and development, and perturbations can disrupt physiological and behavioral functions in the offspring. The proposed research will use anatomical and physiological methods in rats to test the hypothesis that the influence of early life events on later responses to stress and emotional events is linked to developmental plasticity of circuits that provide visceral sensory feedback to the brain and generate emotional expression.

 

Pitt Day in Harrisburg

March 17, 2009

Pictured: Alan Sved, Daniel Jimenz, Krishna Ganapathy Subramanian, Beth Siegler Retchless, Erin Zimmerman

For more than 15 years, “Pitt Day in Harrisburg,” has given members of the General Assembly an opportunity to talk with alumni, faculty, and students about their work and to gain a first-hand perspective of the challenges and changes facing public higher education. Members of the Alumni Legislative Network (ALN) have annually traveled to Harrisburg in order to meet with elected officials and to be the voice of Pitt.

Representing the Department of Neuroscience and the CNUP were Alan Sved, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neuroscience and co-director of the CNUP, and graduate students, Daniel Jimenez, Krishna Ganapathy Subramanian, Beth Siegler Retchless and Erin Zimmerman.

 

Dr. Moghaddam, "Research Review"

Spring, 2009

Research from the University of Pittsburgh could expand the options for controlling schizophrenia by identifying a brain region that responds to more than one type of antipsychotic drug. The findings illustrate for the first time that the orbitofrontal cortex could be a promising target for developing future antipsychotic drugs—even those that have very different mechanisms of action. The study was published recently in the online edition of the journal Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences.

Bita Moghaddam, a professor in the Department of Neuroscience in Pitt’s School of Arts and Sciences and the paper’s lead author, found that schizophrenia-like activity in the orbitofrontal cortex—a brain region responsible for cognitive activity such as decision-making—could be triggered by the two different neurotransmitters linked to schizophrenia: dopamine and glutamate. Brain activity was then normalized both by established antipsychotic medications that regulate only dopamine and by experimental treatments that specifically target glutamate.

A print verion of the article can be found on the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences' web site, linked here.

 

NSF Award for Steve Meriney

Feb. 1, 2009

The National Science Foundation, effective February 1, 2009,

has funded Dr. Stephen D. Meriney's collaboration with Professor Joel R. Stiles from Carnegie Mellon University for the project: "Collaborative Research: Calcium Entry and Transmitter Release at the Frog NMJ" .

Most cells in the nervous system communicate using the release of neurotransmitter chemicals.  This research will combine calcium imaging and electrophysiology experiments, with large-scale computer simulations, to build and refine molecular models of neurotransmitter release.  Using this approach, hypotheses will be developed and tested to explain how synapses use calcium to trigger neurotransmitter release, and how repeated nerve firing changes release, as occurs at all synapses as they respond to changing conditions.

 

Grant Awarded to Matthew A. Smith

On January 15th, 2009, Dr. Matthew A. Smith, postdoctoral associate in Dr. Marc Sommer's lab, was awarded a K99/R00 grant entitled, "Influence of attention and eye movement signals on population coding in area V4".

Dr. Smith's project will examine the mechanisms of population coding in the visual cortex and the interaction between cortical areas which is potentially important for the medical treatment of patients with various kinds of brain damage, including strokes and other focal brain lesions. The results of this research may facilitate the understanding of diseases such as schizophrenia, which is thought to relate to disorganization of cortical connectivity.

To learn more about Dr. Smith's research, please visit his website at the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC).

 

Department of Neuroscience Seminar Series

March 18, 2009

Wednesday, 1 p.m.

A219B Langley Hall

Howard Fields, MD, PhD

Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center

University of California San Francisco

Seminar Title: Opioid Regulation of Midbrain Motivational Circuits

More Info »

 

Department of Neuroscience Seminar Series

February 11, 2009

Wednesday, noon

A219 Langley Hall

Rodney Johnson, PhD

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Professor of Integrative Biology

Seminar Title: Neuroinflammation and cognitive impairment in the aged:  Evidence for a dysregulated linkage between the immune system and brain

More Info »