2015-2016 M.R. Bauer Foundation Summary
Colloquium Series, Distinguished Lecturer Series, Annual Scientific Retreat, and Summer Science Research Fellowship
A scientist’s career is often sparked by serendipity. Inspired by a chance meeting, a seemingly fleeting moment, or a happenstance encounter with the world, a young person decides to leap into the universe of scientific knowledge.
It is at this critical moment that we must seize them, to ensure that this inspiration is nourished and sustained.
The magic of science alone cannot hold hearts and minds. Stories of brilliance and genius can be intimidating to unseasoned scientists. Left to question their talents or compare accomplishments, students can become self-doubting. They do not hear about the frustrations that mar every investigation. They are not privy to those conversations when a researcher asks a colleague for help. In other words, they lack the rounded perspective that comes from maturity and experience.
It is our obligation to serve this generation of neuroscientists with wisdom, patience, and understanding. Once students arrive on campus and in the lab, our responsibility is to assist them in navigating the practice and the profession — and to constantly reinforce their (and our) reasons for joining the neuroscience community. Doing so will make intentional what is inspirational, and will continually renew their commitment to the field.
If the research we talk about here is to grow, then we need these aspirants to carry the torch. Our mentees, research assistants, postdocs — the future of neuroscience, many of whom join us in these conversations — crave guidance and perspective, even when they do not actively seek it out. Neuroscientists work hard, overcome extraordinary challenges, and take succor in fresh ideas and methods. Discovery, they will learn, is a destination that often takes decades to reach.
All of this is remarkable because the M.R. Bauer Foundation, the longstanding benefactor of the Colloquium, Lecture Series, and Annual Retreat, has raised the stakes in how Brandeis trains emerging scientists. A generous, multiyear gift for summer undergraduate research fellowships will ensure that 50 more students participate in intensive research under the tutelage of our esteemed faculty. The M.R. Bauer Foundation recognizes that educating young scientists is of equal measure to the professional development offered to us through these events.
Neuroscience is revelatory. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, aspiring students, my Brandeis colleagues, and everyone in the field will continue to find the inspiration that drives discovery.
Leslie Griffith, MD, PhD
Nancy Lurie Marks Professor of Neuroscience
Director, Volen National Center for Complex Systems
No man is an island, and no neuron works alone. To perform the multitude of processes necessary for learning and behavior, networks of neurons must connect both locally and across the brain. Synapses, the area where a message is relayed from one neuron to the next, must have the proper balance of proteins. Neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers of the brain, must be released in the right order and at the right concentrations. Neural circuits that underlie the constant activity of the brain must be kept on an even keel.
The neural circuits of the brain perform myriad functions, from building spatial representations gathered by whiskers in rats to keeping track of temporal information in humans. In order to adapt to shifting environments, the brain must have methods of retaining a balance in function, or homeostasis. Why the need for such control? Abnormalities in the development or activity of neural circuits are implicated in disorders from autism to epilepsy. And an understanding of how neural circuits develop, form, and remain balanced can pave the way to new treatments.
The 2015-16 M.R. Bauer Foundation Colloquium Series explored new developments in the understanding of the networks of the brain: how they form, how they function, and how they maintain balance in the face of an ever-changing environment. Nine distinguished scientists offered unique insights into the process of developing brain networks and homeostasis, whether at the level of proteins at the synapse or entire networks of neurons. Each speaker has presented a summary of his or her work, which is preceded by a brief introduction set in italics, explaining the presentation in a more general framework of synaptic transmission in the face of a plastic, changing brain.
Takao Hensch, PhD
Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology Department of Molecular and Cell Biology Harvard University
Ivan Soltesz, PhD
Neurosurgery Department, Stanford University School of Medicine
Graeme Davis, PhD
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Programs in Neuroscience, Cell, Biology and Developmental Biology, University of California, San Francisco
Diana Bautista, PhD
Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley
Erin Schuman, PhD
Max Planck Institute for Brain Research
Dean Buonomano, PhD
Department of Neurobiology, Brain Research Institute, University of California, Los Angeles
Every year, the M.R. Bauer Foundation Distinguished Lecturer program brings to campus two distinguished visitors who spend a full week at Brandeis. These weeklong visitors present talks to small and large groups, visit center laboratories, and engage students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty in informational and highly interactive conversations about shared areas of research interests. This year, our distinguished lecturers were Marla Feller and Daniel Feldman from University of California, Berkeley, and Liqun Luo from Stanford University, who also served as the keynote speaker for the Volen National Center for Complex Systems Scientific Retreat 2015. Dr. Luo’s seminar summary will be found in the Volen Retreat 2015 section.
Professor of Neurobiology
Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute
University of California, Berkeley
Professor of Neurobiology
Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute
University of California, Berkeley
The Volen National Center for Complex Systems held its annual scientific retreat on October 5, 2015. This year’s theme was “Dynamics of Complex Systems.” Liqun Luo of Stanford University was our keynote speaker, and he wrapped up the day with his seminar about olfactory systems. Faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and students alike traveled off campus to the New England Aquarium in Boston. Holding the retreat away from campus encourages the scientists to interact away from their familiar surroundings and fosters communication and connections that lead to interdisciplinary and innovative collaborations — collaborations that are far less likely to occur during the normal bustle of day-to-day life in the laboratory.
In addition to the keynote speaker, we had four Brandeis postdoctoral fellows’ presentations. Trish Goodwin from Leslie Griffith’s lab, Viktor Horvath from Irv Epstein’s lab, Phillip Rosenbaum from Eve Marder’s lab, and Anna Moore from Suzanne Paradis’s lab all presented their research stories to the Volen community. As the summaries that follow will make clear, the 2015 retreat offered a view of the amazing research being pursued at Brandeis. Each project brings a better understanding of the complex systems around us.
October 5, 2015
Trish Goodwin, Griffith Lab
“MicroRNAs in Drosophila Sleep”
Viktor Horvath, Epstein Lab
“Pulse-Coupled Chemical Oscillators: Experiments, Models, Theory”
Phillip Rosenbaum, Marder Lab
“Robustness of Circuit Output as Revealed by Neuromodulators With Converging Actions”
Anna Moore, Paradis Lab
“Novel Molecular Mechanism, the Activity-Dependent Gene Rem2, Underlying Visual Circuit Plasticity”
Lunch Break and Visit Aquarium
Dr. Liqun Luo, Stanford University
“Organization and Assembly of the Olfactory Systems”
The Volen Retreat offers the opportunity for all Volen-affiliated faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate and undergraduate students to present a poster detailing their research. This is an opportunity for other members of the community to engage with their fellow scientists and exchange ideas. The face-to-face format of a poster session allows for direct and detailed discussion of data and techniques. This year we saw a record number of posters: 40 postdoctoral fellows and students presented posters at the Volen Retreat. The presenters and titles are below.
||Semaphorin4D regulates GABAergic signaling in the intact hippocampus
||A qualitative shift in comprehension strategies revealed under the triple challenge of age, reduced hearing acuity, and complex linguistic input
||Using cochlear implant simulations to examine the effects of signal degradation and linguistic complexity on sentence comprehension and listening effort
||Neural circuit control of physiological homeostasis in Drosophila melanogaster.
||Retronasal but not orthonasal presentation of odors is sufficient for learning in an olfactory preference task.
||Calcium/calmodulin regulation of the ether-a-go-go potassium cahannel
||Rerouting BMP receptor traffic suppresses synaptic growth defects in a Drosophila model of ALS/FTD
||C. elegans Tubby regulates cilia structure and ciliary protein trafficking
||Lozoya Developmental plasticity drives E/I imbalance and seizure in an in vitro model of Infantile Spasm Epilepsy
||Mechanisms for misregulation of membrane traffic and growth factor signaling in animal models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
||Behavioral and neural investigation of experience dependent learning
mechanisms in the rat
||The characterization of rhythmic Drosophila larval motor neuron activity
||Homeostatic regulation of circuit function
||Regulation of sleep by microRNAs in Drosophila
||Modulators differentially affect robust rhythmic output across temperature
||Effects of multiple neuromodulators on C. borealis STNS
||TDP-43 mediated changes in dendritic morphology via aberrant growth factor signaling
||Taste learning in the hippocampus and gustatory cortex
||Nuclear CaMKIV bidirectionally regulates excitatory homeostatic mechanisms in cortical neurons
||A novel function for the GTPase Rem2 in the nucleus
||The molecular basis of hygrosensation in Drosophila
||The effects of GRIP1 on synaptic scaling
||Serotonergic activity controls sleep architecture in Drosophila melanogaster
||The role of PlexinBs in Sema4D mediated GABAergic synapse formation
||Visual deprivation-induced synaptic and circuit-level changes in layer 4 of visual cortex
||Sensory cortical representation and modulation of decision related motor patterns in the rodent taste system
||Lonotropic receptors mediate cool sensing in Drosophila
||Post-transcriptional regulation in fast-spiking interneurons
||Modulation of localized transmitter responses in identified neurons of the stomatogastric ganglion
||Age differences in hippocampal activation during false recognition of objects
||A novel role for Kinesin-1 in microtubule and actin interactions in the developing nervous system.
||Knockout of Rem2 alters critical period plasticity in mouse visual cortex
||Modified carbon fiber arrays for dense recording from LGN
||Variability and constancy of morphological properties of STG neurons
||The retromer complex regulates the abundance of APP-exosomes at the Drosophila NMJ
||Describing Drosophila sleep patterns using a quantitative behavioral model
||Transmembrane guanlylyl cyclases and CaMKI mediate thermosensory signaling and thermal acclimation
||Role of inhibitory circuits in monocular deprivation-induced homeostatic synaptic plasticity
||3D neuron tracing
||Disrupting awake sharp-wave ripples increases vicarious trial and error behavior
The M.R. Bauer Foundation Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows Program completed a third summer in 2016. The M.R. Bauer Foundation generously supported 10 undergraduates’ research projects this past summer. Each Brandeis undergraduate was able to perform research in a Volen National Center for Complex Systems laboratory. This opportunity allowed very talented undergraduates to tackle important research questions. More importantly, the M.R. Bauer Foundation Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows Program supported the growth of young, excited but relatively inexperienced budding scientists. As you will read in each fellow’s personal statement, the opportunity to pursue research this summer was life-changing. Remi Boros states, “The uninterrupted 10 weeks of support and inspiration were paramount to my development as a scientist, a critical thinker, and a well-rounded individual.” Sarah Lipitz and Bethany Rennich both discuss the impact the summer fellowship has had on their long-term career goals, with Sarah writing, “My experiences this summer confirmed my desire to pursue a PhD and a career in research” and Bethany stating, “My work this summer has confirmed what I knew was a passion to pursue neuroscience research as a career, strengthening my desire to attend graduate school.” It is due entirely to the generosity of the M.R. Bauer Foundation that these young scientists were able to experience what truly comprises laboratory life and science during summer 2016.
Aaron Ammerman, Oprian Laboratory, Department of Biochemistry
Remi Boros, Fraden Laboratory, Department of Physics
Emily Cohen, Wingfield Laboratory, Department of Psychology
Mehan Leubner, Lisman Laboratory, Department of Biology
Sarah Lipitz, Gutchess Laboratory, Department of Psychology
Elon Mathieson, Katz Laboratory, Department of Psychology
Tamar Parmet, Katz Laboratory, Department of Psychology
Bethany Rennich, Nelson Laboratory, Department of Biology
Ayantu Temesgen, Kern Laboratory, Department of Biochemistry
Zhiheng Wang, Epstein Laboratory, Department of Chemistry
As always, we thank the speakers who came to the Brandeis campus this past year to share their research with us and to engage us in many hours of stimulating discussion and exchanges of ideas with Volen Center faculty, students, and postdoctoral fellows. We are also grateful to our visitors for forwarding to us their lecture summaries that form the basis of this report.
We especially acknowledge Kim MacKenzie, a past neuroscience PhD graduate, for her valuable contributions and editorial assistance in the preparation of this report.