Brain Institute News Gallery

A brain region for resisting alcohol's allure

2014-04-02 - The Neural Circuitry for Addiction Lab reports that when a region of the brain called the lateral habenula is chronically inactivated in rats, they repeatedly drink to excess and are less able to learn from the experience. The study, published online in PLOS ONE on April 2, has implications for understanding behaviors that drive alcohol addiction. READ MORE


Searching for better treatments for epilepsy

2014-03-31 - In the U.S, epilepsy causes more deaths– about 50,000 annually – than breast cancer. These disturbing trends are likely due, in part, to the fact that existing medications fail to adequately control seizures in one-third of epilepsy patients. The Glial-Neuronal Interactions in Epilepsy Lab, is working to expand treatment options by investigating the fundamental differences in people for whom medications don’t work. READ MORE


CURE lecture on genetic basis of epilepsy

2014-03-17 - The University of Utah hosted a lecture on March 17, in HSEB 1750 at 3:30 PM, focused on understanding the genetic basis of epilepsy and how to translate research findings into patient care. The lecture, “Large-Scale Team Science and Epilepsy Genetics: The EPGP and Epi4K Experience,” was delivered by Dan Lowenstein, M.D., Vice-Chairman of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco and is part of a national campaign sponsored by the non-profit group CURE (Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy)READ MORE

Brain Awareness Week: Touching brains and captivating minds

2014-03-10 - An annual tradition, dozens of University of Utah neuroscientists taught more than 1,500 K-12 students along the Wasatch Front about the brain and brain health during Brain Awareness Week, which ran from March 10 – 15 this year. The week’s activities culminated in Brain Awareness Day on Sat. March 15, where the public took part in educational hands-on activities at the Leonardo museum.. READ MORE

More than "brain glue": Astrocytes as targets for seizure control

2013-11- 20 - One in 26 people will have a seizure in their lifetime. Nearly half will go through the unpredictable and sometimes life-threatening experience at least once more, and many will receive a diagnosis of epilepsy. Seizures are caused by groups of neurons in the brain firing uncontrollably. There are many different kinds of seizures that differ based on which neurons are affected, how they are triggered, and how they spread. Nathan Anthony Smith, Ph.D., now a postdoctoral scientist for both the Neuronal Dynamics, and the Glial-Neuronal Interactions in Epilepsy laboratories at the Brain Institute at the University of Utah, is investigating how astrocytes, long considered inert support cells for neurons, contribute to specific types of seizures. READ MORE

U of U Health Sciences announces major neuroscience initiative

2013-10-14 - Vivian Lee, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, announced the planning of a major neuroscience initiative to enhance collaborations in brain and spinal cord research across campus, with an emphasis on bringing scientific advances to the clinic. The eighteen member planning committee, headed by Monica Vetter, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, is comprised of faculty from twelve departments.“The goal is to facilitate a pipeline of innovation in neuroscience linking basic and translational science leading to improved clinical outcomes and novel applications,” said Vetter. LEARN MORE

Visualizing tissue microstructure in patients in real-time

2013-10-1 - PARIS – Mauna Kea Technologies launched a collaboration with the Laboratory of Robert Hitchcock, Ph.D., Department of Bioengineering, to develop a novel technology to monitor and diagnose lung disease. CellVizio is an ultra-thin, fiber optic confocal endomicroscope that can extend to the distal lung, reaching areas where the traditional bronchoscope cannot. Hitchcock’s group and the University of Edinburgh are integrating this imaging device into an advanced pulmonary access catheter, a breakthrough that will allow physicians to visualize cancer margins and microstructures within living tissue in real-time, leading to faster, more accurate diagnoses. READ MORE

Look at what I'm saying

2013-9-4 - University of Utah bioengineers discovered our understanding of language may depend more heavily on vision than previously thought: under the right conditions, what you see can override what you hear. READ MORE

Team Brain raises $38,000 for MS research

2013-7-2 - Congratulations to Team Brain who took part in Utah Bike MS through Cache Valley, Utah on June 29-30. The 40 – 100 mile bike tour benefits multiple sclerosis research, and support services for those with the disease. Made up of a unique mix of researchers, clinicians, patients, and friends, the 60-member team has raised $38,000 so far. READ MORE

BI introduces Weber State undergrads to neuroscience research

2013-5-20 - The Brain Institute was pleased to host the Weber State University Neuroscience Club. The group of undergraduates learned about research in the fields of neural engineering, information processing, and addiction. Club president Ashley Casillas said the group appreciated the opportunity to tour R01 research labs and learn about STEM career options.


NIH funds novel genetic tools for investigating roles of glia in brain disease

2013-5-6 - Petr Tvrdik, research associate in the Capecchi Lab, earned a perfect score from the National Institutes of Health on his proposal to develop cutting edge tools for researching novel roles of glial – neuronal interactions in development of brain diseases such as epilepsy, OCD, and Parkinson’s disease. The work will be conducted in collaboration with the Brain Institute’s Neuronal Dynamics Lab and Glial-Neuronal Interactions in Epilepsy Lab. “This collaboration brings together great strengths on campus, excellence in mouse genetics and outstanding expertise in neurophysiology and engineering,” says Tvrdik. READ MORE

inner ear hair cells

Jeffrey Holt seminar on mechanisms of inner ear sensory transduction

2013-4-30 - The hair cells of the inner ear transmit electrical impulses to the brain, conveying information required for hearing and balance. In a seminar titled, “A Novel Gene Family Required for Sensory Transduction in Hair Cells of the Mammalian Inner Ear” Jeffrey Holt, Ph.D., professor of Otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School will speak about his latest research identifying molecular components required for inner ear function, and implications on the etiology of related disorders. The seminar will be held on Friday, May 17 at 11:00 a.m. at Eccles Institute of Human Genetics (EIHG), 1st floor auditorium. All are welcome to attend.

Xue Han

Han to present, "Optogenetics in neural circuit mapping"

2013-4-18 - Xue Han, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University, will speak on her work using optogenetics, the ability to use light to rapidly activate or silence individual brain cells. Her group is applying the cutting edge technology toward mapping neural circuits related to neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Han is the recipient of the NIH Director’s New Innovator award. Her talk will take place as part of the Neural Engineering Research Group (NERG) series, on Monday, April 29 at 12:55 p.m. in the SMBB auditorium. The seminar will be preceded by a light lunch at 12:15 p.m. All are welcome to attend.

Dedicated equipment to accelerate neural processing research

2013-4-3 - Six interdisciplinary research groups that focus on neural information processing - Dorval, Rabbitt, Taha, Wachowiak, White, and Wilcox Labs - received matching funds from the U of U to purchase an integrated system for optical and electrophysiological studies in vivo. “These diverse, systems neuroscience groups will utilize the shared equipment to develop new techniques, tools, and software for intracellular recordings, optical stimulation, and intracellular recordings,” explains John White, Ph.D., Director, Neuronal Dynamics Laboratory. READ MORE

Chuck Dorval

Dorval earns State grant to improve deep brain stimulation technology

2013-3-16 - Chuck Dorval, Ph.D., director of the Neural Information Laboratory, was awarded a Technology Commercialization and Innovation Program (TCIP) grant from the state to develop a new deep brain stimulation electrode, DBS10k. DBS alleviates some neurological symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD), but the simple modern day electrode also causes unwanted side effects. The DBS10k will be able to shape the generated electrical field to fit the particular region of the brain that requires stimulation, without crossing over into undesired regions. DBS treatment with this device will be more effective and safe.

student with brain

Brain Awareness Week a success

2013-3-16 - March 11-17, 2013 was Brain Awareness Week, a yearly campaign to increase public awareness about the benefits of brain research by bringing hands-on educational activities to K-12 students and the general public. The week's events were well-received by students, teachers, the public, and the press. See Brain Awareness Week press coverage on KSL-TV, The Deseret News, and The Salt Lake Tribune.

Warren Grill to speak on developments in deep brain stimulation

2013-3-14 - Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an established therapy for the treatment of movement disorders including dystonia, essential tremor, and Parkinson’s disease. Warren Grill, Ph.D. from Duke University will speak on his results finding novel patterns of stimulation that increase the efficacy or efficiency of DBS, and the implications for novel methods of stimulation. The seminar will take place on Monday, March 18 at 12:55 p.m. in the SMBB auditorium, preceded by a light lunch at 12:15 p.m. in the atrium.

Brain Awareness Day at the Leonardo

2013-3-11 - March 11-17, 2013 is Brain Awareness Week, an annual global campaign to increase public awareness about the benefits of brain research by bringing hands-on educational activities to K-12 students and the general public. The week's events will culminate in Brain Awareness Dayat the Leonardo on March 16 from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m where participants can touch a brain and move an object with their thoughts. This event is free and open to the public. Watch BAW chair Jeff Yarch talk about the brain and BAW on KSL-TV.

Wachowiak receives $1.58M to investigate olfactory processing

2013-2-11 - Matt Wachowiak, head of the Olfactory Systems Lab, received a 5-year, $1.58M grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders. The group will investigate how the brain sorts through and makes sense of the many odors surrounding us by following defined neural pathways that process odor information in the brain. An important tool for the job is genetically-encoded reporters that enable visualization of neural activity while an animal smells an odor. The work will provide insights into the neural basis for odor perception, odor-guided behavior, and general information processing.

Festschrift to honor Normann’s lifetime achievement

2013-1-28 - On February 8, 2013 a Festschrift will be held in honor of Richard Normann, Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering and inventor of the Utah Electrode Array. German for a volume of work compiled in tribute of a scholar, this festschrift will consist of a symposium with talks from local, national, and international speakers representing key stages of Normann’s career. The event is free and open to the public, and will be held in SMBB. Click for program

Calling all Brain Awareness Week volunteers

2013-1-17 - March 11-17, 2013 is Brain Awareness Week, a yearly campaign to increase public awareness about the benefits of brain research by bringing hands-on educational activities to K-12 students and the general public. Volunteering for BAW is a wonderful way to promote awareness, enhance leadership and teaching skills, and connect with fellow neuroscientists. Register here to join U of U undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff in building a community of support for research.

Meeting of the minds to maximize outreach

2013-1-2 - The Intermountain Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience will host the first meeting of the Utah Brain Education Alliance (UBEA) on January 12, 2013, at the University of Utah Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology Building. Volunteers from undergraduate institutions across the region will gather to share learning activities and ideas, and to build community in preparation for Brain Awareness Week (BAW) 2013. READ MORE

Last Updated: 4/7/14