BRAIN and BEHAVIOR INITIATIVE WEEKLY DIGEST

September 16, 2019


News

Tau is a structural protein of brain cells that, in various neurodegenerative conditions and as a result of brain injury, can accumulate as tangled toxic deposits. Using a recently developed in vivo imaging technique, researchers have now examined such tau pathology in the brains of patients who suffered a single head trauma decades earlier. The results reveal not only that tau accumulation can remain unusually high in such patients but also that tau abundance correlates with neuronal damage.
Why do some individuals affected with Alzheimer's Disease lose their memory and other cognitive skills more slowly than others? New findings indicate that at least part of the answer may lie in differences in their immune responses. Researchers have found that slower loss of cognitive skills in people with AD correlates with higher levels of a protein that helps immune cells clear plaque-like cellular debris from the brain. This suggests that the protein, and the immune system as a whole, may be promising targets to help fight AD.
Despite plentiful scientific knowledge surrounding the factors that trigger relapse, no effective medical treatment exists for the nearly 20 million U.S. adults who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. One recent study explores how the brain responds to environmental cues that suppress—not promote—drug cravings, specifically for alcohol and cocaine, two of the largest classes of abused drugs. It examines how nerve cells behaved in the brain’s infralimbic cortex, the region of the brain believed to be responsible for impulse control.
One notable feature of schizophrenia is that its first symptoms often emerge at the transition between late adolescence and young adulthood. Now, using a genetic mouse model of schizophrenia, researchers have shown that network and cognitive deficits characteristic of schizophrenia that only emerge in adulthood could be permanently prevented by specific treatments during a late adolescence-sensitive time window.  
How is the retina formed, and how do neurons differentiate to become individual components of the visual system? By focusing on the early stages of this complex process, researchers have now identified the genetic programs governing the birth of different types of retinal cells and their capacity to wire to the correct part of the brain, where they transmit visual information.
Scientists have known that much of the diversity of cell types in the prefrontal cortex results from epigenetics (such as the chemical tags on DNA) as well as how epigenetic features ultimately fold up within chromosomes to affect how genes are expressed. Now, researchers have developed a method to simultaneously analyze how chromosomes, along with their epigenetic features, are compacted inside single human brain cells.

Calendar of Events

Biophysics Seminar Series
Speaker: Bill Bentley (University of Maryland)
Title: "Communicating with and controlling biology via biofabrication, synthetic biology, and microelectronics"
Date: Monday, September 16, 2019
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Location: 1116 Institute for Physical Science and Technology
 
NACS Seminar
Speaker: David Badre (Brown University)
Title: "Prefrontal cortex and the hierarchical control of behavior"
Date: Friday, September 20, 2019
Time: 10:15 a.m.
Location: 1103 Bioscience Research Building

Funding Announcements

New FOA are listed below. Please visit bbi.umd.edu/news/FOA for the complete list of open Funding Announcements.
 
The National Ataxia Foundation invites applications to its Young Investigator Awards program invigorating ataxia research by encouraging talented young clinical and scientific investigators to pursue a career in the field of ataxia research. Letter of intent are due October 1, 2019; application due November 1, 2019.
 
*New!* NIDA and NIAAA invite applications to Accelerating the Pace of Drug Abuse Research Using Existing Data (R01 Clinical Trial Optional) (PAR-19-368) for innovative analysis of existing social science, behavioral, administrative, and neuroimaging data to study the etiology and epidemiology of substance using behaviors (defined as alcohol, tobacco, prescription and other substances) and related disorders, prevention of substance use and HIV, and health service utilization. Applications due October 16, 2019.
 
*New!* NIH invites applications for the Development of Animal Models and Related Biological Materials for Research (R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed) (PAR-19-369)  to develop, characterize, and improve animal models, biological materials, and novel technologies to better understand human health and disease. Applications due October 16, 2019.
 
*New!* National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research invites applications for their Small Grant Program for New Investigators (R03 Clinical Trial Not Allowed) (PAR-19-370). This program supports pilot or feasibility studies and developmental research projects with the intention of obtaining sufficient preliminary data for a subsequent investigator initiated Research Project Grant (R01) or equivalent application. Applications due October 16, 2019.
 
*New!* The Office of Research Infrastructure Programs encourages grant applications aimed at developing, characterizing or improving animal models of human diseases; improving access to information about or generated from the use of animal models of human disease; or improving diagnosis and control of diseases of laboratory animals (RFA-OD-19-027). Applications due October 28, 2019, January 27, 2020, May 27, 2020, September 28, 2020.
 
*New!* The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and National Institute on Aging Social invite applications for Epigenomics Research Focused on Minority Health and Health Disparities (R01-Clinical Trial Not Allowed) (PAR-19-372). The purpose of this FOA is to support and accelerate human epigenomic investigations focused on identifying and characterizing the mechanisms by which social experiences at various stages in life, both positive and negative, affect gene function and thereby influence health trajectories or modify disease risk in racial/ethnic minority and other health disparity populations. Applications due November 6, 2019.
 
The NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs) are a set of programs designed to recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals into biomedical or biobehavioral research careers. The LRPs counteract that financial pressure by repaying up to $50,000 annually of a researcher's qualified educational debt in return for a commitment to engage in NIH mission-relevant research. Applications due November 15, 2019.
 
*New!* NIH invites applications for Mobile Health: Technology and Outcomes in Low and Middle Income Countries (R21/R33 - Clinical Trial Optional) (PAR-19-376). The purpose of this FOA is to encourage exploratory/developmental research applications that propose to study the development, validation, feasibility, and effectiveness of innovative mobile health interventions or tools specifically suited for low- and middle-income countries that utilize new or emerging technology, platforms, systems, or analytics. Applications due November 19, 2019.
 
*New!* National Institute on Aging invites applications for Complex Integrated Multi-Component Projects in Aging Research (U19 Clinical Trial Optional) (PAR-19-374). This FOA allows for applications that propose large-scale, complex research projects with multiple highly integrated components focused on a common research question relevant to aging. Applications due January 25, 2020.
 
*New!* National Institute of Nursing Research invites applications for Omics-guided Biobehavioral Interventions for Improved Health Outcomes (R01 Clinical Trial Optional) (PAR-19-377). The purpose of this FOA is to stimulate clinical research that harnesses the wealth of advances in the fields of genomics and other omics (e.g., metabolomics, microbiomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, epigenomics, etc.) to incorporate these advances into translatable, personalized biobehavioral interventions for improved health outcomes. Applications due February 5, 2020.

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