Dr. Jason Shepherd received an R01 through the National Institute of Mental Health to investigate the mechanism of Arc dependent synaptic plasticity.
Congratulations to Kyle Jenks for receiving a NRSA award from the National Institute of Mental Health!
I discuss the focus of our work and how it relates to neurological diseases.
Our Neuron paper (paper link) describing a new GCaMP reporter mouse (a transgenic mouse that expresses a protein that can sense levels of calcium in cells) is out today! This was a great collaborative project between multiple Utah neuroscience labs. Exemplary of the close knit community here!
Nature published an interesting supplement (Supplement) that looks at how Science and scientists in New Zealand/Australia are evaluated and funded. I find this an interesting topic. Should there be “performance” outcomes like in industry? Should individual scientists be funded on their track record or based on individual projects? The NIH in the US is debating the same issues (NIH Funding). HHMI, for example, has been hugely successful and funds individuals not projects.
This article highlights the difficulty in studying autism but gives some hope to parents. It also shows how much more research needs to be done! Some kids seem to reverse their autism symptoms, behavioural therapy seems to help but is not necessary in some cases. Why some kids can make amazing progress and others not is unclear but is probably due to the distinct genetic underpinnings that cause such a wide spectrums of phenotypes.
Congrats to Kyle who was awarded one of three T32 NIH training grant slots from the Utah neuroscience program!
Traditionally scientists mostly use one sex for their studies. Especially in neuroscience where behavioural differences may prove confounding. While I think this is a good idea, we could certainly be more efficient when using our animal colonies if we did discard females, it will certainly mean that monitoring whether there are sex differences in a study will make it a longer one.
The Utah School of Medicine recently hosted a symposium highlighting new faculty who have won national competitive awards. The mini talks revolved around the human element of science as well as a primer on their exciting research.
Here’s a youtube video with highlights of these talks: Vitae Presentations
The number of students and postdocs in Science has increased every decade but the number of tenure-track positions have not. This current bottle neck is well represented by this graphic: http://www.ascb.org/ascbpost/index.php/compass-points/item/285-where-will-a-biology-phd-take-you
An open discussion on this issue is sorely needed.
This month three new young scientists joined the Shepherd lab:
Cameron Day will be joining as a postdoctoral associate, he recently graduated with his PhD from the Neuroscience program at UTSW.
Andrew Taibi, will be joining as a new Ph.D. student.
Kyle Jenks, will be joining as a new Ph.D. student.
Might be the first time C-SPAN was worth a real laugh! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHqx3-mfHAY
This could be a game changer for the scientific community, so it will be interesting to see how it’s implemented and received!
The National Institute of Mental Health is one of the largest funders of Neuroscience research in the world. This is an interesting article on how NIMH director Thomas Insel has single handedly turned the ship towards funding more mechanistic/biological neuroscience, which as a basic neuroscientist…I approve!
Today the Shepherd lab participated in a Reddit AMA (ask me anything) session:
It was a great experience with over 1000 comments/questions asked…awesome to get so much interest but humbling to see so many people affected by mental illness and other neurological disorders.
The internet and social media has revolutionized how information is disseminated in society. Scientists have started to use social media to help talk about their work and make it more accessible to the general public. REDDIT is one of the most popular sites, especially those under 30. The Shepherd lab will be involved in a new initiative on REDDIT that aims to help the public interface with scientists. See http://www.reddit.com/r/science/comments/1vqimu/announcing_the_rscience_ama_series/
We will be hosting an AMA next Thursday Feb 6th 12 noon EST.
Two Nature papers that came online today implicate rare mutations in Arc in human patients with Schizophrenia. This has exciting implications for our work in understanding Arc’s role in neuronal function, as our work may now help shed light on this common psychiatric disorder!
Links to the papers, if anyone is interested but doesn’t have access let us know:
Great story about a neuroscientist’s personal encounter with his own genetic history and how that explains much of his behaviour but also highlights how genes aren’t everything. This interplay between environment and genes is precisely the plasticity my lab is trying to uncover! http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/01/life-as-a-nonviolent-psychopath/282271/
New study (http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nn.3623.html) shows that Caffeine can boost the consolidation of memory. So drinking that coffee before/during your lecture is a good idea!
This week’s Neuron has an extremely well written article on advice for students entering Ph.D. programs (http://www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273%2813%2901191-4). This follows on from Ben Barre’s article in Cell. It’s rare that I agree with everything said in an article but every point here is spot on! Indeed, I think PIs can take some of this advice to heart to…experienced or not.
Congrats to Elissa for being awarded a NIH T32 Developmental Biology Training Grant postdoctoral fellowship!
Are you talented, creative and highly motivated? Shepherd Laboratory is currently looking for new talent. If you are passionate about scientific research and innovation, motivated, ambitious and driven; we want you to be part of our team.
We are seeking talented and enthusiastic postdocs to join the Shepherd lab. The lab utilizes coordinated biochemical, cell biological, electrophysiological and imaging studies in vitro and in vivo, including state of the art techniques such as in vivo two-photon microscopy and chronic electrophysiological recordings in live animals (Nat Neurosci. 2010 Apr;13(4):450-7).
Projects will range from basic mechanisms of memory storage (Neuron. 2006 Nov 9;52(3):445-59 and Nat Neurosci. 2011 Mar;14(3):279-84) to understanding neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (Cell. 2011 Oct 28;147(3):615-28.) and neurodevelopmental disorders such Angelman and Fragile X syndrome (Neuron. 2008 Jul 10;59(1):70-83). We are particularly interested in people with molecular biology/biochemistry/cell biology experience or electrophysiology/imaging experience.
There is a growing and vibrant neuroscience community at the University of Utah, with an excellent quality of life. Nestled in the Wasatch mountains, Salt Lake City offers both cultural (Sundance Film festival) and outdoor recreation (over 5 world class ski resorts with 30 minutes) activities.
The lab is well funded through a generous startup package and a K99/R00 from the NINDS.Apply Today!
The Shepherd lab has been awarded a 2 year research grant from the Angelman Syndrome Foundation to test the causal role of Arc in Angelman Syndrome. Only six labs worldwide were funded this year.
Due to the generosity from its supporters, the ASF has approved funding for more than $1.25 million in research grants in this grant cycle. After evaluating this year’s proposals, the ASF’s Scientific Advisory Committee and Board of Directors decided that each of the following studies are essential to advancing Angelman syndrome research. These initiatives are quintessential to the success of all future Angelman syndrome preclinical and clinical trials… learn more »