Tessa Harrison portrait

The BRI Congratulates

Tessa Harrison
From the lab of Susan Bookheimer, PhD
Winner of the 24th Annual Samuel Eiduson Student Lecture Award

This award recognizes an outstanding graduate student in the neurosciences who has done especially commendable work during dissertation research.

Tessa Harrison is a fifth year graduate student who will defend her doctoral thesis in July. She received her bachelor’s degree in Neurobiology from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Before graduate school, Tessa worked as a research assistant at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern University in Chicago.

Tessa’s research focuses on the study of aging and neurodegenerative disease in humans, specifically to illuminate the preclinical phase of dementia syndromes. Her particular innovations include the development of a novel approach to combining risk alleles for Alzheimer’s disease, and integrating this information with brain imaging measures of hippocampal structure.

Since joining the Bookheimer lab in 2011, Tessa has published 2 papers as first author and a comprehensive review discussing multiple risk genes and approaches to combining genes in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

A video of Tessa's Eiduson lecture is available at the BRI Youtube Channel.

Dr Samuel Eiduson served as chair of the NSIDP from its inception in 1972 until 1985. He was an exceptional educator and mentor, instrumental in advancing the careers of many UCLA neuroscientists and graduates.


The Brain Research Institute is hosting a solo exhibition by Israeli artist 


Art inspired by the human brain

February 3rd - June 3rd, 2016
Mondays - Fridays, 8am - 6pm
Gonda Building Foyer

Visitors welcome.

The exhibition catalog is available in English and Hebrew.

More on the artist here.


Theresa Harrison

The BRI Congratulates

Esther H Nie
From the lab of S Thomas Carmichael, MD, PhD
Winner of the Eva Kavan Prize for Excellence in Research on the Brain

This award recognizes an outstanding graduate student for excellence in the field of basic research in neuroscience 

Esther is a medical student at the DGSOM, and a graduate student in the NSIDP. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

Esther’s graduate studies focused on how the brain learns and recovers after injury. In the Carmichael lab, she has explored how these two processes intersect during limb overuse therapy after stroke. During her dissertation research, Esther identified molecular targets to improve cortical reorganization after stroke. At present, she uses cutting edge CRISPR/cas9 genome engineering techniques to further understand the underlying biology of these targets.

In the future, Esther hopes to be a neurologist and lead her own research lab.

The Kavan Prize will be presented preceding the Magoun Lecture, June 14th, 2016 at 12:00pm. (Neuroscience Research Building Auditorium)

Eva Mary Kavan, MD, came to UCLA in 1956 to join one of the first teams to do open-heart surgery in the west. She was a pioneer in the administration of anesthesia, utilizing the electroencephalogram to perform important research on the effects of the heart-lung machine on brain function during open-heart operations.



Feburary Image of the Month

Image of the Month

Immunofluorescent staining of mouse cortical neurons. The green neuron was transfected with GFP and a CRISPR construct targeting the RNA binding protein Rbfox3. Nuclei are blue, neurites are cyan, and Rbfox3 expression is in red. 

Image by: Wendy Herbst from the laboratory of Kelsey Martin, MD, PhD.






Project Synapse Flyer


Recognizing high school students who have accomplished outstanding projects related to neuroscience

Lauren Yen (pictured left) won the Senior Division Senior Division for her project "Calcium content in neuron changes with light stimulation". Yen recorded action potentials and calcium changes from worm neurons measuring spiking activity as a function of delivery of different colors of light and intensity.

Junior Division winner Faatima Zahra Motala (pictured right) was recognized for her project "Joggin' your noggin: the effect of brain training applications on cognitive flexibility of participants who suffer from diminishing mental ability". Motala used the brain training application "Luminosity" to measure cognitive flexibility of participants 65 and older who suffered from cognitive impairments. She tracked patterns daily over the course of 3 weeks.

More information on BRI outreach activities at State and County Science Fairs here.


Introducing the BRI's New Member

"Engineering the neural microenvironment"

Stephanie Seidlits is a bioengineer researching at the intersection of engineering, neuroscience and medicine. She uses biomaterial microenvironments and advanced imaging tools to develop clinical therapies for disorders including spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and glioma formation. The long-term goal of this research is to translate biomaterial microenvironments into in vivo regenerative therapies, which do not exist at present. 
Seidlits’ recent article in Biomarkers Insights reviews of the current state of development of effective gene therapies in the spinal cord and discusses the potential of biomaterials to mediate gene delivery while providing inductive scaffolding to facilitate tissue regeneration.
Image: Transverse section of mouse spinal cord with a biomaterial substrate implanted at a dorsal injury site (4 weeks post-injury, neurofilament-200, immunofluorescence shown in red). Courtesy of Stephanie Seidlits.
More information about the Seidlits lab can be found here.

In the News Image

In the News

Untapped region in brain cell offers goldmine of drug targets for new autism treatments
Discovery could shed light on how genetic mutations lead to the disease

BRI members key in discovery that an overlooked region in brain cells houses a motherlode of mutated genes previously tied to autism. Recently published in Neuron, the finding could provide fresh drug targets and lead to new therapies for the disorder, which affects one in 68 children in the United States.

“Our discovery will shed new light on how genetic mutations lead to autism,” said principal investigator Dr. Kelsey Martin, interim dean and a professor of biological chemistry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “Before we can develop an effective therapy to target a gene, we must first understand how the gene operates in the cell.”

The UCLA team focused on a gene called Rbfox1, which regulates how the cell makes proteins — the molecular workhorses that perform essential tasks in cells. Proteins also help shape the body’s tissues and organs, like the brain.

“Identifying a gene’s function is critical for molecular medicine,” said coauthor Daniel Geschwind, the Gordon and Virginia MacDonald Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics and a professor of neurology and psychiatry at UCLA. “My colleagues discovered that Rbfox1 has an entirely new function that other scientists had overlooked.”

More on the study here.

Image: The gene Rbfox1 in a cell's cytoplasm. Courtesy of the Kelsey Martin lab.


The Neuroscience Interdepartmental Program


Graduate Program

Undergraduate Program

Upcoming Events


TUESDAY, MAY 10TH, 2016 AT 12:00 NOON

                Department of Pharmacology
                UC San Diego              

Title: "Probing G Protein-Coupled Receptors as Allosteric Sensors Linking Hormone Binding to G Protein Activiation"

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) are vital communication systems that sense extracellular stimuli and transduce signals across the plasma membrane to intracellular compartments.  They serve as sensors for environmental stimuli such as light, odors and tastes, as well as serving the receptors for hormones, chemokines and even pathogens.  GPCRs couple to effectors systems that regulate second messengers such as cAMP, cations, and inositol phosphates, through interacting with the heterotrimeric family of G proteins.  Recent advances in the structural biology of G protein-coupled receptors by themselves or more recently bound to G proteins have helped to unravel the intricacies of ligand binding.  Similarly, structural and biochemical analyses of heterotrimeric G proteins have affirmed our understanding of the mechanism underlying effector interactions and GTPase activity.  Our recent crystal structure of the ®2-adrenergic receptor (®2AR) in a complex with the stimulatory G protein, Gs, trapped in its nucleotide-free state, in particular, has now provided insight into the physical relationship between G proteins and GPCRs.  Analysis of the structural data, along with pharmacological and biochemical data, have helped to delineate how hormone binding to GPCRs leads to GDP release on G proteins, the principle step that precedes GTP binding and G protein activation.  Here we describe the functional relationship between the receptor and G protein leading to G protein activation and the initiation of cell signaling.

          Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA

12:00pm  Neuroscience Research Building (NRB) Auditorium, UCLA

Light refreshments served 1/2 hour prior to start of lecture



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