Neuroscience in the News

Sept. 27, 2017: Dr. Matthew Rasband receives the United States - Israel Binational Science Foundation Neufeld Memorial Research Award

Dr. Rasband's United States - Israel Binational Science Foundation-funded research involves a complex study of nodes of Ranvier, also known as myelin-sheath gaps. Myelin is an insulating membrane sheath produced by specialized glial cells in the central nervous system (which includes nerves in the brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system (nerves throughout the rest of the body.) Myelin enables fast and efficient nerve conduction that is essential for proper body function, and in some cases, even survival. Destruction of myelin leads to several neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, and is also associated with psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders.

Sept. 11, 2017: DNA looping may lead to opportunities to treat brain tumors

A recent paper from Dr. Deneen's lab in the journal Nature Neuroscience describes the mechanism by which normal brain cells regulate the expression of the NFIA gene, which is important for both normal brain development and brain tumor growth.

July 13, 2017: Creative Minds: Reprogramming the Brain

Read an entry from the NIH Director's Blog describing the important work in Melanie Samuel's lab.

March 20, 2017: Neurons deep in brain more active than once thought

It's the part of the brain that makes sure you cannot tickle yourself. The cerebellum, an apple-sized region near the base of the skull, senses that your own fingers are the ones trying to tickle, and cancels your usual response. Cerebellar neurons, which were thought to fire only rarely as they take in information from the senses, are in fact far more active than previously suspected, according to a recent study in the journal Nature Neuroscience. “The study is the first to look at the activity of these neurons, known as granule cells, in the brains of living animals while they are learning a task,” said Dr. Javier Medina, associate professor and the Vivian L. Smith Endowed Chair in Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine, and a senior co-author with Dr. Sam Wang, professor of molecular biology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. "We knew very little about how these neurons in the cerebellum were firing when the brain is engaged in behavior.”

Feb. 7, 2017: Vital links between brain tumors, epileptic seizures found

Detecting brain tumors at the earliest possible stage and eliminating them before seizures begin might be possible one day, according to research by scientists at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, including Neuroscience Associate Professor Dr. Benjamin Deneen. In the study, which is published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, the scientists report that the emergence of specific brain cells during brain tumor progression in a mouse model marked the onset of seizures and brain tumor invasion. An improved understanding of how brain tumors cause seizures can potentially lead to strategies to prevent them or treat them.

June 18, 2016: See coverage in The Economist of research from the Costa-Mattioli Lab linking gut flora with autism

Drs. Mauro Costa-Mattioli and Shelly Buffington have published evidence in Cell that, in mice at least, a clear relationship exists between gut flora, obesity and social behavior.

April 29, 2016: New McNair Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine to study biophysics of cognition

Purposeful and intelligent movements seem to happen with little thought; yet a single movement involves a complex neural network that spans multiple regions of the brain. Understanding the internal processes that leads to planning and execution of voluntary movement is critical to understanding cognitive disorders and is the research focus of Dr. Nuo Li, the newest McNair Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine.

March 11, 2016: Research on mouse's brain could lead to smarter machines

An international team of scientists, led by Dr. Andreas Tolias, is hoping that the key to building smarter computers and artificial intelligence may be locked inside a tiny portion of a mouse's brain which they plan on mapping to ultimately allow machines to learn as we do.

March 11, 2016: Dr. Benjamin Deneen appears on KHOU's Great Day Houston

Multiple Sclerosis is a disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord that affects 2.3 million people worldwide. Dr. Benjamin Deneen, from Baylor College of Medicine talks about the research he is doing to help find a cure. 

March 3, 2016: New MRI scanner offers new views of the brain

The Core for Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging at Baylor College of Medicine it is now home to the only Siemens Prisma MRI scanner in the region. This powerful resource is available to all Neuroscience researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and across the Texas Medical Center.

Neuroscience in the News: April - December 2015

Dec. 21, 2015: A new, multidisciplinary approach to classify cell types in the brain

A group of researchers from Baylor College of Medicine (Drs. Andreas and Kimberley Tolias’ laboratories), the Karolinska Institutet,and the University of Tübingen have developed a novel technique that allows, for the first time, the anatomical and functional properties of single neurons to be directly linked to their gene expression profiles.

Nov. 30, 2015: Andreas Tolias lab publishes key paper in the journal Science

Experiments from the Tolias lab show that the basic wiring of the local circuitry of the neocortex can be captured using a few connectivity rules that are recycled across the layers of the neocortex.

Nov. 23, 2015: Kimberley Tolias is recipient of the 2016 Memory and Cognitive Disorders Award from the McKnight Endowment Fund

The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience has selected four projects to receive the 2016 Memory and Cognitive Disorders Award. The awards will total $1.2 million over three years for research on the biology of brain diseases. Dr. Tolias will be studying global memory traces at single synapse resolution.

Nov. 3, 2015: BRAIN Initiative supports Baylor researchers

As we interact with the world around us, the brain is involved in sensory and spatial navigation, memory formation and complex decision-making, forming a model of the environment. Baylor College of Medicine scientists and their collaborators have been awarded $3.7 million from the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative, or the BRAIN Initiative, to study what happens in the brain during this process. The project, led by Dr. Dora Angelaki, professor and the Wilhelmina Robertson chair of Neuroscience at Baylor, will work to interpret this neural activity to better understand what happens when this process goes wrong, as is the case with many mental illnesses.

Nov. 2, 2015: Newest McNair Scholar named at Baylor College of Medicine

Dr. François St-Pierre, a quantitative neuroscientist and neuroengineer, has been named the newest McNair Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine. The McNair Scholar program at Baylor identifies influential researchers in breast and pancreatic cancer, juvenile diabetes and neuroscience. It is supported by The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and managed by the McNair Medical Institute.

Oct. 9, 2015: Dr. Mingshan Xue wins Janett Rosenberg Trubatch Career Development Award from Society for Neuroscience

Supported by the Trubatch family, the Career Development Award recognizes two recipients each year for originality and creativity in neuroscience research conducted by early-career professionals. Mingshan Xue, PhD, an assistant professor of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine, has made important contributions to the study of cortical circuits. As a graduate student at Baylor College of Medicine, Xue demonstrated that a protein that regulates neurotransmitter release performs opposite functions in mammals and the Drosophila fly model, highlighting the importance of species differences. Xue’s research also elucidated how this and other proteins are able to control neurotransmitter release. His current research focuses on the balance of excitatory and inhibitory signaling in the cortex, and how this balance is disrupted in neurological disorders like autism spectrum disorder and epilepsy.    

May 7, 2015: Neural stem cells massively turn into astrocytes in a model of epilepsy

Dr. Mirjana Maletić-Savatić, assistant professor of neurology and neuroscience, has published an important new research paper in the journal Stem Cell on the cause of epilepsy.

May 7, 2015: Baylor faculty honored with 2015 DeBakey Research Awards

Dr. Benjamin Deneen, associate professor of neuroscience and in the Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine Center, has won a 2015 DeBakey Research Award

May 4, 2015: McNair Scholar awarded two grants to support research

Dr. Russell Ray, assistant professor of neuroscience and McNair Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine, has been awarded two prestigious honors, a fellowship in the Parker B. Francis Fellowship Program and a March of Dimes Basil O’ Connor Starter Scholar Research Award. Both are to support his work in mapping developmental, genetic and functional organization of neural circuits in the brain to understand how they contribute to physiological and behavioral functions.

April 27, 2015: Matthew Rasband: Zen and the art of axonal maintenance

Read an online profile from the Journal of Cell Biology of Dr. Matthew Rasband, Professor of Neuroscience

Neuroscience in the News: October 2014 - March 2015

March 6, 2015: From chick to bedside: Removing the Wnt barrier

Kick starting a process that might repair the damage done in cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis could begin with disabling a driver that helps block regeneration, said Baylor College of Medicine researchers in a report that appears in the journal Neuron.

Feb. 23, 2015: Baylor center seeks to understand deadly outcome in epilepsy

Dr. Jeffrey Noebels, professor of neurology and molecular and human genetics, is leading a new research center of international scientists who seek to answer questions that arise from the mystery of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP).

Feb. 23, 2015: Baylor College of Medicine receives an additional $11 million in state cancer funding

Neuroscience Associate Professor Dr. Benjamin Deneen receives $1.8 million state funding to study personalized functionalization of pediatric high grade glioma.

Feb. 1, 2015: Mauro Costa-Mattioli: Memory’s Puppeteer

Associate Professor Dr. Mauro Costa-Mattioli is profiled in The Scientist magazine.

Jan. 15, 2015: Baylor College of Medicine scientist identify a novel precursor to neurodegeneration

Neuroscience graduate student Lucy Liu, and Dr. Hugo Bellen, connected the presence of lipid droplet accumulation in the glia of specific mutants as a harbinger of neurodegeneration.

Nov. 17, 2014: Are corporations people, too?

In a study reported this week in the journal Social Neuroscience, Dr. David Eagleman and his team investigated whether human brains unconsciously perceive a corporation as an object or another person. They found that the brain perceives corporation as social beings.

Nov. 4, 2014: Key role of proteins in neuron communication revealed

Dr. Matthew Rasband and his team, for the first time, have revealed the essential roles played by scaffolding proteins called ankyrins in the assembly and maintenance of so-called nodes of Ranvier. Nodes of Ranvier are sites along myelinated axons that act as “booster stations” to regenerate electrical signal.

Oct. 22, 2014: Pupil dilation and neural mechanisms they reveal.

Dr. Jacob Reimer, a post doctoral fellow in Dr. Andreas Tolias' lab, has discovered that brief episodes of pupil dilation and constriction occur every few seconds while mice are sitting quietly. Using a microscopic electrode to record the electrical activity inside single brain cells, Reimer found that during dilation the cerebral cortex was in a desynchronized state.

Oct. 20, 2014: Baylor researchers find support through BRAIN Initiative

Drs. Angelaki and Tolias were awarded grants supported by the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.

Oct. 6, 2014: Developmental transcription factors oversee glioma sub-types

In a recent Nature Neuroscience paper, researchers in the lab of Dr. Benjamin Deneen found that transcription factor NFIA plays an important role in the development of astrocytes and oligodendrocytes cells that make up the support network in the brain.

Neuroscience in the News: January - September 2014

Sept. 26. 2014: Viral tracing reveals molecule responsible for adult-born neuron signaling

Baylor study is the first time that local neuropeptide signaling has been shown to be important in the integration of adult-born neurons in a pre-existing neuronal circuit.

July 22, 2014: PBS announces the production of its newest science series, THE BRAIN WITH DR. DAVID EAGLEMAN

These six one-hour episodes tell the story of the inner workings of the brain and take viewers on a visually spectacular journey into why they feel and think the things they do. The show will premiere in 2015 as part of the PBS “Think Wednesday” lineup of science and nature programming.

July 18, 2014: Winners announced for President’s Award for Innovative Research

Drs. J. David Dickman and Matthew Rasband were awarded the 2014 President's Award for Innovative Research for their project entitled: "development of magnetogenetics for non-invasive neuromodulation".

July 1, 2014: Key process required to weaken strength of synaptic connections, store memory identified

In a study published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers in Dr. Costa-Mattioli's laboratory have documented a key process required to weaken strength of synaptic connections and store memory.

May 20, 2014: Dr. Huda Zoghbi receives honorary degree from Yale University

Zoghbi, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, is best known for her pioneering work on Rett syndrome, a genetic neurological disease that affects young girls.

April 29, 2014: Dr. Dora Angelaki elected to National Academy of Science

Dr. Angelaki us one of 84 new members from 15 countries recognized for their distinguished and continuing achievements in research.

April 25, 2014: Dr. Dora Angelaki named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Dora E. Angelaki, professor and the Wilhelmina Robertson Chair in Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine, has been named to one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies – the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

April 8, 2014: Dr. Huda Zoghbi awarded 2014 March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology

Dr. Huda Zoghbi, professor of neuroscience, pediatrics, molecular and human genetics and neurology at Baylor College of Medicine, will receive the 2014 March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology.

Jan. 31, 2014: Dr. Hugo Bellen honored by Genetics Society of America

Dr. Hugo Bellen awarded the Society's George W. Beadle Award, established to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the community of genetics researchers.