Sackler Faculty Chet Moritz and Adrienne Fairhall receive $1.5 million grant for brain-computer interface research
The Paul Allen Family Foundation has awarded a $1.5 million grant over three years to a team of interdisciplinary researchers at the UW. Chet Moritz of Rehabilitation Medicine and Physiology & Biophysics and Adrienne Fairhall of Physiology & Biophysics & Physics (both faculty mentors for Sackler Scholars), along with Joshua Smith of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science & Engineering will work on a project that aims to restore movement to paralyzed arms and hands of patients with spinal cord injuries.
This new grant complements the work of the Foundation’s affiliate organization, "The Allen Institute for Brain Science, and through the Foundation’s Allen Distinguished Investigators program, which supports scientists pursuing ambitious, pioneering research.”
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Bertil Hille wins NIH Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award
Bertil Hille, the Wayne E. Crill Endowed Professor of Physiology & Biophysics and Sackler Scholar Program faculty member, has been selected as a winner of a Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award for his research supported by NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Javits Awards provide long-term support to investigators with a history of exceptional talent, imagination, and preeminent scientific achievement.
The award will support continued funding, up to 7 years, of Bertil’s long-standing grant on Molecular Properties of Ionic Permeability in Nerve, currently in its 44th year. This is the second Javits award that Bertil has received. Since the award was established in 1983 in honor of the late Senator Jacob Javits, Sackler Scholars faculty have won 9 Javits Awards. Winners include Linda Buck, Bill Catterall (twice), Stan Froehner, Eb Fetz (twice), Bertil Hille (twice) and Ed Rubel.
Nanopore sequencing technology lands licensing deal
Researchers led by University of Washington physicist Jens Gundlach, professor of Physics and Sackler Scholar Program faculty member, have developed a nanopore sequencing technology capable of reading the sequence of a single DNA molecule, technology that has led to a patent-licensing deal between UW and Illumina Inc.
In this system, the DNA is pulled through a nanopore while an ion current through the pore electronically reads the DNA’s sequence. The nanopore is an engineered protein developed specifically for DNA sequencing by Gundlach’s team in collaboration with Michael Niederweis, a microbiologist at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
The licensing deal gives San Diego-based Illumina, developer of integrated systems for genetic variation analysis, exclusive worldwide rights to develop and market the nanopore DNA sequencing technology that is based on the engineered pore.
Read more at UW Today.
Stan Froehner elected to Washington State Academy of Sciences
Stan Froehner, professor and chair of Physiology & Biophysics and Director of the Sackler Scholars Program, is one of 15 University of Washington faculty members elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences (WSAS). The WSAS was established in 2005 by Governor Christine Gregoire to provide expert scientific and engineering analysis to inform public policy making in Washington and to increase the role and visibility of science in the state. Members of the Washington State Academy of Sciences come from academic research, government, and industry, and represent a broad range of scientific, technical, and engineering fields.
Read more at UW Today.
Sue Biggins receives the National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology
Sackler faculty member Sue Biggins, Basic Science Division of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, was among 18 scientists in a wide range of fields honored by the NAS. She was recognized for her work in understanding the mechanics of cell division. The Biggins lab developed a procedure to isolate kinetochores, specialized cellular machines in separating and accurately allocating chromosomes during cell division. They collaborate with the lab of Chip Asbury to conduct biophysical studies of the chromosome attachment to kinetochores, research being conducted by Sackler Scholar, Jonathan Driver.
Third Annual Sackler Scholars Symposium
The 3rd Annual Sackler Scholars Symposium will be held on Thursday, June 6. This year, two current Scholars will present their recent research findings. Jacob McPherson (Perlmutter/ Bohringer labs) will talk on “Targeted, activity-dependent spinal stimulation for motor rehabilitation following spinal cord injury”. Jonathan Driver (Asbury/Biggins labs) will present his research on “Kinase effects on kinetochore attachment strength”. Following the presentations in Foege N130, a reception will be held in the lobby. Please join us to hear about the latest research from two of our scholars and chat with your fellow UW biophysicists.
Thomas Daniel named Guggenheim Fellow
Tom Daniel, Komen Professor of Biology & Sackler Scholar Faculty member, has been named 2013 Guggenheim Fellow. Tom studies the control and dynamics of movement in biology using concepts from neuroscience, engineering and mathematics. He’s previously been named a MacArthur Fellow and received the UW awards of excellence for teaching and graduate mentor. During his tenure as a Guggenheim fellow he will be working on three projects. One will be an online laboratory manual for “animal engineering,” which will complement his educational and research interests in biomechanics. The other is the development of open source computational codes for understanding the molecular basis of force generation in muscle.
Fred Rieke selected for Landolt Distinguished Mentor Award
Fred Rieke, professor of physiology & biophysics, HHMI Investigator and Sackler Scholar faculty member, has been chosen as the recipient of the 2013 Marsha L. Landolt Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award, which "recognizes a faculty member who excels at the intense, one-on-one mentoring that is the hallmark of graduate study". One university-wide award is made every year. Fred is the first faculty member in the Health Sciences to win this award.
Current and former graduate students and postdoctoral fellows nominate candidates for the Landolt Award. Their recommendations weigh heavily in the determination of the winner. The award will be presented at the Awards of Excellence ceremony on Thursday, June 13.
Rehabilitation through rewiring: Interview with Sackler faculty members Eb Fetz and Steve Perlmutter
Eberhard Fetz and Steve Perlmutter, Sackler Scholar faculty and members of the Department of Physiology & Biophysics, were interviewed recently about their research on the Neurochip, a computer chip device developed in collaboration with Chet Moritz in Rehabilitation Medicine and Brian Otis in Electrical Engineering.
“The future of rehabilitation therapy for victims of stroke or spinal-cord injury may lie in a small computer chip — called a neurochip — being developed, in cooperation, by the Washington National Primate Research Center (WaNPRC) and the UW’s College of Engineering.
This chip could repair and ultimately restore function of neurological communication within areas of the brain, and between brain or body activities for people whose neurons have been weakened or damaged in some way. For example, a stroke victim whose mobility has been compromised could receive this implant and, over time, have his brain re-wired by the chip to ensure that a new connection could be made.
Eberhard Fetz, UW professor and researcher at WaNPRC, started researching brain-machine interfaces 10 years ago and has since published several articles about the ability of neurochips to create bidirectional brain computer interfaces.
Jonathan Driver awarded Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Fellowship
Current Sackler Scholar Jonathan Driver has been selected for a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Fellow Award that will provide support for three years, beginning July 1, 2013. The Society selected 30 individuals nationwide for the award this year. Dr. Driver's proposal, entitled "A single-molecule study to resolve how kinases prevent errors in mitosis", will build upon his investigations funded by the Sackler Scholar program and is designed to help other scientists understand and combat chromosomal instability in blood cancers. Dr. Driver conducts his research under the mentorship of Dr. Chip Asbury, associate professor of physiology & biophysics and Dr. Sue Biggins at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Founded in 1949, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is the world's largest nonprofit health organization dedicated to funding basic and translational blood cancer research in pursuit of its mission to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma.
Sharona Gordon presents UW Science in Medicine Lecture
Sharona Gordon, associate professor of physiology & biophysics and a Sackler Scholar faculty and mentor, presented the first 2013 Science in Medicine lecture on January 14. Her lecture, entitled "No gain, no pain: tuning TRPV1 ion channels to respond to noxious stimuli" described the molecular mechanisms by which the sensitivity of TRPV channels is modulated, an important characteristic of pain receptors. The Science in Medicine lecture series is sponsored by the School of Medicine and features UW faculty members nominated by their peers for this honor.
Department of Physiology & Biophysics ranked first in the nation in research funding
Over the past several years, the Department of Physiology & Biophysics has consistently ranked in the top 10 in total research grant funding of physiology departments nationwide, based on data assembled by the ACDP. This year, the department was ranked no. 1, with total research funding at more than $10.3 million. The NIH is the major source of funding for the department, but physiology & biophysics scientists also receive funding from the National Science Foundation, the American Heart Association, the Keck Foundation, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Tom Daniel and Sarah Keller named Fellows of the AAAS
Two Sackler faculty members, Tom Daniel, Komen Professor of Biology, and Sarah Keller, Professor of Chemistry, are among eleven University of Washington researchers named new fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Fellows are elected by their peers for meritorious efforts to advance science and its applications.
Sarah Keller wins UWPA Mentor Award
The University of Washington Postdoctoral Association has named Sarah Keller, Professor of Chemistry and a Sackler Scholar Faculty member, the 2012 winner of the Mentor Award. The UWPA is “a community of postdoctoral fellows dedicated to realizing the full potential of the postdoctoral training experience and to maximizing the success of postdoctoral fellows both at the University of Washington and in their careers beyond.” Postdoctoral fellows throughout the Seattle area participate in the program. The award will be presented at the UWPA Annual Research Symposium on November 27.
In addition to her role as a UW faculty member, Sarah is very active in the Sackler Scholars program, having served on the selection committee since its inception. She is also Associate Dean for Research Activities.
Roie Shlomotivz appointed Sackler Scholar
We are pleased to announce the appointment of a new Sackler Scholar in Integrative Biophysics
• Roie Shlomovitz, Ph.D., is working under the mentorship of Lutz Maibaum, Natt-Lingafelter assistant professor of chemistry and Michael Schick, PhD, professor of physics. Dr. Shlomovitz studied Physics and Chemistry as an undergraduate at The Hebrew University and then earned his M. Sc. and Ph.D. in Physics at the Weizmann Institute of Science. He was awarded the Lee A. Segel Prize in Theoretical Biology by the Weizman Institute in 2010. For the past two years, he has been a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA in the departments of Chemistry & Biochemistry and Physics & Astronomy. As a Sackler Scholar, Dr. Shlomowitz is pursuing his interest in lipid microdomains in cell membranes. Lipid domains, called lipid rafts, are key elements in organizing transmembrane signaling in all cell types. Dr. Sholomowitz uses statistical mechanics to explore various aspects of a model recently proposed by Dr. Schick.
Call For Proposals
We are pleased to announce the fifth ***CALL FOR PROPOSALS*** for the Sackler Scholars in Biophysics postdoctoral fellowship. Please help us to spread the word about this opportunity. Review of applications for this round will begin on November 2, 2012. We strongly recommend that any pending proposals are submitted on or before that date. Proposals received after November 2 will be evaluated on a rolling basis, while positions remain open.
These awards provide $50,000 to cover salary and benefits for one year, plus $3,000 for discretionary use. A second year of funding may be provided pending sufficient progress, participation in program activities, and approval of the faculty advisors.
Thomas Portet wins Skinner Prize for Membrane Biophysics
Thomas Portet, a Sackler Scholar in the Keller and Gordon laboratories, has been awarded the Skinner Prize for research that he presented at the Faraday Discussion 161 on Lipids and Membrane Biophysics, held this month in London. The research will also be described in a paper, just accepted for publication in the Biophysical Journal, "Increasing Membrane Tension Decreases Miscibility Temperatures; an Experimental Demonstration via Micropipette Aspiration", by Thomas Portet, Sharona E. Gordon and Sarah L. Keller.
Mike Bindschadler and Sarah Mondello appointed Sackler Scholars
We are pleased to announce the appointment of two new Sackler Scholars in Integrative Biophysics
• Mike Bindschadler, Ph.D., is working with James Bassingthwaighte, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Bioengineering, and Adam Alessio, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor of Radiology. Dr. Bindschadler earned a B.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Rochester. For his Ph.D. thesis, he studied the role of actin in cell migration using a combination of mathematical modeling, live cell imaging, and digital image processing. This work demonstrated that coordinated migration of fibroblast cells can arise from independently acting cells responding only to local physical signals, without biochemical or junctional signaling. As a Sackler Scholar, Dr. Bindschadler is studying adenosine regulation of myocardial blood flow, and also developing quantitative models to enable clinical assessment of myocardial blood flow using dynamic CT scans, with the ultimate goal of reducing patient radiation dose.
• Sarah Mondello, Ph.D., is jointly funded by the Sackler Scholars Program and the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE). She is working with mentors Chet Moritz, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Physiology and Biophysics and Rehabilitation Medicine, and Philip Horner, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery. Dr. Mondello earned her B.A. in Psychology from McGill University and her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Florida where she studied the effects of Chondroitinase ABC on plasticity and locomotor recovery after spinal cord injury. As a joint Sackler/CSNE Scholar, Dr. Mondello is continuing to work towards enhancing functional recovery after spinal cord injury by utilizing a novel, multifactorial approach incorporating brain-triggered stimulation of optogenetic stem cell transplants in the spinal cord after injury.
Call for Applications: Molecular Biophysics Training Grant
To all first and second year graduate students: If your proposed thesis research involves molecular biophysics, we strongly encourage you to apply for the Molecular Biophysics Training Grant. The field of molecular biophysics involves the use of quantitative approaches based on physical or physical chemical concepts to address questions involving biomolecules. Examples include but are not limited to, structural biology, computational studies, spectroscopy, and single molecule techniques.
Award includes NIH stipend, partial tuition and eligibility for a small travel allowance.
Paper from Wordeman and Asbury Labs featured on cover of Developmental Cell
Jason Stumpff's paper showing how kinesins control the movement of chromosomes on the mitotic spindle is featured on the cover of the May 15 issue of Developmental Cell. Jason, a former postdoctoral fellow in the Wordeman Lab, is now an Assistant Professor in the Physiology and Biophysics Department at the University of Vermont and is the primary and co-corresponding author on the paper. Linda Wordeman and PBIO Research Technologist Mike Wagenbach performed the TIRF analysis with live microtubules using a DeltaVision deconvolution microscope that has been custom outfitted for TIRF microscopy. The light paths and Ultimate focus™ option on the microscope were designed by Jeremy Cooper (former PBIO graduate student and presently a Senior Research Engineer at Applied Precision, GE Healthcare, Issaquah, WA). Andrew Franck (a graduate student in Chip Asbury's lab) assisted with the analysis and quantification of the movies.
Stan Froehner featured in the The Arts of Neuroscientists
“The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, a nonprofit organization of more than 300 leading neuroscientists, works to advance public awareness about the progress and promise of brain research. As eminent neuroscientists, Alliance members harbor an intense passion for scientific research and progress, but many of our members also have passions outside neuroscience.”
Stan Froehner was featured in the May issue of The Dana Foundation publication on The Arts of Neuroscientists. Stan is an avid photographer who enjoys several photography subjects, but focuses primarily on landscapes and performing artists. His work can be viewed on his photography website.
Sarah Keller wins multiple awards
Sarah Keller, Professor of Chemistry, Associate Dean for Research Activities and Sackler Scholar faculty member has received several awards over the past months. Prof. Keller will serve as a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar for 2012-2013. She is one of only 14 faculty nationally who will give a series of endowed lectures for students at smaller colleges who would not normally have access to “some of America’s most distinguished scholars”.
Last year, Sarah was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society and elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences. Sarah serves on the Sackler Scholar Selection Committee.
Sackler Scholars gain teaching experience
Acquiring teaching experience with critical review by experienced faculty members is a key factor in a successful training program, whether the Scholars elect to pursue a career in academia, biotech, or the pharmaceutical industry. The Sackler Scholars program encourages and supports teaching activities that help our Scholars develop these important skills. Two of our Scholars have recently completed important teaching activities.
• Tom Erez developed and taught a course in the winter term on “Minds and Machines: a freshman seminar on Godel, Escher, Bach”. Using the textbook Godel, Escher, Bach (GEB) by Douglas Hofstadter, the course wove together many different topics, predominantly Bach’s music, Escher’s art and Godel’s mathematical work, as well as computer science, Zen-Buddhism, microbiology and neuroscience. This course considered GEB’s perspective on the relationship between brain, mind and intelligence. Freshman students read those chapters wherein Hofstadter explains his views on the nature of intelligence, how abstract thoughts can emerge from random biological processes, and what this means for the prospect of crafting cognition in artificial substrate (e.g. computers).
• Thomas Portet presented a formal seminar on his research, entitled “Torturing giant lipid vesicles in electric fields for the benefit of both fundamental and applied science” in PBIO 519. This course on biophysics seminars has been taught for decades by Bertil Hille, Wayne E. Crill Endowed Professor of Physiology & Biophysics. In weekly sessions, postdoctoral fellows present their research in a seminar and then receive feedback and constructive criticism from Prof. Hille. The goal of the course is to prepare postdoctoral fellows in their presentation skills for job interviews. This year, all of the presentations were given by postdoctoral fellows in laboratories of Sackler Faculty.
Chet Moritz and Georg Seelig receive DARPA Young Investigator Awards
Chet Moritz (Sackler Faculty, Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine and Physiology & Biophysics) and Georg Seelig (Sackler Faculty, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Engineering) were recently selected for DARPA Young Faculty Awards. "The program aims to identify and engage rising stars in junior faculty positions... and provide high-impact funding to these elite junior faculty early in their careers."
Chet’s research aims to develop treatments for injuries to the brain and spinal cord using neural engineering technology. The goal of this funding is to improve hand function by recording activity in the brain and using it to trigger stimulation of the spinal cord below an injury. This neuroprosthetic circuit may also help to guide regeneration of the damaged central nervous system.
Georg and his group will develop a cheap and easy-to-use point of care diagnostic test for infectious diseases. As a specific application, they will focus on the diagnosis of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in low resource settings by integrating DNA-based logic circuits and amplifiers with paper-based lateral flow devices to engineer a complete diagnostic test.
Fred Rieke receives Honorable Mention for the Landolt Mentoship Distinguised Graduate Mentor Award
Fred Rieke, Professor of Physiology & Biophysics and HHMI, has received an Honorable Mention in the competition for the 2012 Marsha L. Landolt Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award. This award recognizes a UW faculty member who has made outstanding contributions to the education and guidance of graduate students. Named for UW Graduate School Dean Marsha L. Landolt who died in 2003, the Graduate School has recognized excellent faculty mentors yearly since 1999.
Fred is the first faculty member in the School of Medicine to receive this recognition in the Landolt Award competition.
New PhD graduate program in Biological Physics, Structure and Design launched
A new PhD graduate program in Biological Physics, Structure and Design (BPSD) is recruiting its first class of students for matriculation in fall, 2012. BPSD was created to unite biophysical work on biomolecules and their complexes across campus. The program builds on two previous programs (Biomolecular Structure and Design and the Physiology & Biophysics Departmental program), and that is reflected in the composition of the current students.
The interface between the physical and biological sciences is a rapidly emerging research area. This program focuses on the study of how the basic molecular components that provide the building blocks of biological systems work. Experimental techniques are now available that permit the quantitative study of a host of previously inaccessible issues about how proteins, nucleic acids and lipids work. In particular, the ability to manipulate and alter these essential biological components is rapidly advancing our understanding of their structure, the relationship between structure and function, and rules that permit the design of novel macromolecules. Continued progress in these areas demands an interdisciplinary approach, with input from both experiment and theory. The aim is to train young scientists to work at the interface of physical and biological sciences. BPSD offers a diverse set of research programs and promotes interdisciplinary work through strong interactions between labs in these different areas. The faculty are from diverse backgrounds (the majority are also Sackler Scholar faculty members), but all take a physical and quantitative approach to biological questions.
Jim Pfaendtner to speak at German American Frontiers of Science
Sackler Scholar faculty member Jim Pfaendtner (chemical engineering) has been invited by the National Academy of Sciences to speak at the “German American Frontiers of Science” symposium in May. The symposium is the Academy’s premiere event for distinguished young scientists, featuring speakers who have made significant contributions to their fields.
UW iGEM Team wins Grand Prize
The University of Washington iGEM team of was awarded the top prize at the iGEM (international Genetically Engineered Machines competition) World Championship Jamboree, held at on the MIT campus in Cambridge, MA. This marks the first time a US team has ever won the international competition. More than 160 teams from around the world participated in the regional competitions, with the top 20 from each region going on to the World Championship. The UW team, which comprised more than 20 undergraduates from a broad range of science disciplines, also tied with Yale University for Best Poster and Best Food or Energy Project. Three UW projects featured in the competition were bacteria designed to produce diesel fuel from sugars, a pill that can break down gluten in the digestive tract and bacterial magnets. Sackler Scholar Faculty members David Baker (biochemistry) and Eric Klavins (electrical engineering) served as faculty advisers for the team. BPSD alum, Justin Siegel, led the team.
Jonathan Driver and Jacob McPherson appointed Sackler Scholars
We are pleased to announce the appointment of two new Sackler Scholars in Integrative Biophysics
• Jonathan Driver, Ph.D., is working with mentors Charles Asbury, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Physiology and Biophysics, and Sue Biggins, Ph.D., Member of the Basic Sciences Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Jonathan earned a B.S. in Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Bioengineering, both from Rice University. For his PhD thesis, he studied cooperation among teams of molecular motors by engineering synthetic molecular scaffolds, with multiple motors linked via leucine zippers to a DNA backbone. He then measured the movements and forces generated by these structurally defined motor assemblies using a laser trap, showing that – contrary to the popular view – the number of motors does not strongly influence cargo movement. As a Sackler Scholar, Dr. Driver is studying how kinase enzymes prevent chromosome mis-segregation by regulating the attachment of chromosomes to the mitotic spindle.
• Jacob McPherson, Ph.D., is working with Steve Perlmutter, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Physiology and Biophysics, and Babak Parviz, Ph.D., McMorrow Innovation Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering. Jacob earned a B.S. in Applied Sciences and Biomedical Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He then earned his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University, where he used targeted neuropharmacology together with novel robotic devices to study the mechanisms that cause abnormalities in upper limb movement following stroke and cerebral palsy. As a Sackler Fellow, Dr. McPherson is developing flexible, bio-compatible electrode arrays and novel techniques for stimulating the central nervous system with the ultimate goal of enhancing motor rehabilitation following spinal cord injury.
Sharona Gordon and Bill Zagotta co-chair Biophysical Society Program Committee
Sharona Gordon and Bill Zagotta, faculty members in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics, are co-chairs of the Program for the 2012 Biophysical Society Meeting in San Diego. With more than 3,700 abstracts submitted, the meeting is expected to attract about 9,000 registered attendees. Sharona and Bill worked with their Program committee to plan 21 symposia, 3 mini-symposia, and 5 workshops. New topics this year include "Soft Lithography for Biology" and"Biofuels." Planning the event has been underway for over a year. The Annual meeting of the Biophysical Society is the major scientific event for biophysicists and is attended by scientists from all over the world.
Thomas Portet receives two awards
Thomas Portet, a Sackler Scholar in the Keller and Gordon laboratories, has received two awards. The latest award is the "Prix de l'Académie des Sciences, Inscriptions et Belles Lettres de Toulouse", translated as the Award from the Academy of Sciences of Toulouse. Earlier this year, Thomas received the "Prix Novela" from the city of Toulouse.
Call for Proposals
We are pleased to announce the third ***CALL FOR PROPOSALS*** for the Sackler Scholars in Biophysics postdoctoral fellowship. Review of applications for this round will begin on Dec 16, 2011. We strongly recommend that any pending proposals are submitted on or before that date. Proposals received after Dec 16 will be evaluated on a rolling basis, while positions remain open. Application instructions can be found here. Email complete application packages to email@example.com.
Emilie Clemmens and Bettina Schnell appointed Sackler Scholars
We are pleased to announce the appointment of two new Sackler Scholars in Integrative Biophysics.
• Emilie Clemmens, Ph.D., is working with mentors Wendy Thomas, Ph.D., associate professor of bioengineering, and Jose A. Lopez, M.D., executive vice president for research at Puget Sound Blood Center and Professor of Medicine (Hematology) and Biochemistry at UW. Dr. Clemmens earned a bachelor’s degree (summa cum laude) in chemical engineering at the University of Kentucky and then came to the UW as a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow to work with Michael Regnier, Ph.D., on the contractile mechanics of cardiac and skeletal muscle. She was awarded the doctorate in 2003. In 2004 and 2005, Dr. Clemmens served as a Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Fellow at The National Academies in Washington, D.C. Since then, she has taken time off from her research career to start a family and has designed and taught biology curricula at local colleges. With Drs. Thomas and Lopez, Dr. Clemmens will design and develop an electromagnetic tweezer assay to investigate mechanoregulation in physiology, specifically to answer clinically relevant questions about protein-level events of thrombosis. In multiplexed parallel single-molecule measurements, these studies will simulate shear forces experienced by proteins during blood flow, linking protein biophysics to clinical manifestations of pathological thrombosis.
• Bettina Schnell, Ph.D., is working under the mentorship of Michael Dickinson, Ph.D., Benjamin Hall Endowed Chair in Basic Life Sciences, and Adrienne Fairhall, Ph.D., associate professor of physiology and biophysics. Dr. Schnell earned her diploma at the University of Würzburg and her Ph.D. in biology at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Munich. Dr. Schnell’s studies of the neural circuitry that underlies the ability of insects to detect and react to visual motion have been published in Nature and Neuron. She is one of only a few scientists in the world able to record the activity of single neurons in the brain of the fruit fly, Drosophila. With Drs. Dickinson and Fairhall, Dr. Schnell will perform patch-clamp recordings from from neurons in the fly brain while the insect is actually flying. The goal of this work is to study how visual information is processed and transformed in the brain to ultimately control flight behavior. This will be a remarkable technical tour de force and, combined with Dr. Fairhall’s computational expertise, will provide exciting insights into how a brain extracts information from a constantly changing environment.
Sullivan lab publishes Nature Neuroscience paper on homeostatic synaptic scaling in Alzheimer’s Disease
Jane Sullivan, associate professor of Physiology & Biophysics and a Sackler Scholars Program faculty member, and her colleagues describe a new function of presenilin-1 in their paper in the latest issue of Nature Neuroscience. Mutations in presinilin-1 are known to cause Familial Alzheimer’s Disease but the mechanism has remained elusive. This paper provides evidence that presenilin mutations impair the ability of neurons to recalibrate to changes in network activity. The results suggest that subtle deficits in synaptic function occur long before overt symptoms of disease pathology. The molecules responsible for these deficits are promising therapeutic targets for the early stages of Alzheimer’s. For an interesting commentary and perspective on this research and its potential impact on understanding Alzheimer’s Disease, please see the discussion on the Alzheimer Research Forum.
Thomas Portet receives travel award to attend Gordon Research Conference
Thomas Portet, one of the inaugural Sackler Scholars working with Sarah Keller (Chemistry) and Sharona Gordon (Physiology & Biophysics), has won a travel award to attend the 2011 Gordon Research Conference on Soft Condensed Matter Physics. He will present his work on “Effect of Mechanical Stresses on Lipid Membrane Phase Properties”.
NSF Awards $18.5 million grant to establish UW Engineering Research Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering
Yoky Matsuoka (Computer Science and Engineering) and Tom Daniel (Biology) will be the director and deputy director, respectively, of a new Engineering Research Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering, funded by the National Science Foundation. Partners are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and San Diego State University. Also partnering are historically minority-serving institutions Spelman College and Morehouse College, both in Atlanta, and Southwestern College in Chula Vista, Calif. International partners are the University of British Columbia and the University of Tokyo. Researchers will develop new technologies for amputees, people with spinal cord injuries and people with cerebral palsy, stroke, Parkinson's disease or age-related neurological disorders. The majority of the funding will support undergraduate and graduate student research. Early systems might involve remote or wearable devices that help guide rehabilitation exercises to remap brain signals and restore motor control. Ultimately, researchers hope to develop implantable prosthetics that are controlled by brain signals and include sensors that shuttle information back to wearers so they can react to their environment – creating robotic systems that are truly integrated with the body's nervous system. Many of the participating scientists and most of the leadership team are also faculty members in the Sackler Scholars Program.
Adrienne Fairhall leads new NIH training grant in Computational Neuroscience
Adrienne Fairhall will serve as the principal investigator on a new Computational Neuroscience training grant from NIH. The grant will initiate two new programs. A two-year sequence in computational neuroscience for undergraduate students will feature a common core curriculum (including new courses), required mentored laboratory research, and a series of faculty seminars. The PhD graduate component offers a tailored curriculum including neurobiology core courses and quantitative courses in computational neuroscience, mathematics, computer science and physics. PhD candidates will attend a weekly journal club and have teaching opportunities in the undergraduate Neurobiology program. All students will be able to present their research at a campus-wide yearly meeting, the Computational Neuroscience Connection, which this year will feature Dr Christof Koch, scientific director of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, as a plenary speaker.
The program is interdisciplinary and broad-based with faculty mentors from 11 departments in three UW colleges and schools. In addition to Dr. Fairhall, the leadership team includes Bill Moody (Biology, Director of the Undergraduate Neurobiology Program) David Perkel (Biology, Otolaryngology and Physiology & Biophysics), Fred Rieke (Physiology & Biophysics, HHMI), and Eric Shea-Brown (Applied Mathematics).
David Baker named Centenary Award winner by the Biochemical Society
David Baker, Professor of Biochemistry and HHMI Investigator, has been named the 2012 Centenary Award winner by The Biochemical Society. The award was created to celebrate the Society’s first 100 years, which is marked this year, in 2011. Recipients are selected from biochemists around the world in recognition of achievement and excellence in the field. As the 2012 recipient, Baker will give the Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins Memorial Lecture at a Society conference next year.
Call for Proposals
We are pleased to announce the second ***CALL FOR PROPOSALS*** for the Sackler Scholars in Biophysics postdoctoral fellowship. Review of applications for this round will begin on May 15, 2011. We strongly recommend that any pending proposals be submitted on or before that date. Proposals received after May 15 will be evaluated on a rolling basis, while positions remain open. Application instructions can be found here. Email complete application packages to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul Wiggins and Georg Seelig named 2011 Sloan Research Fellows
Sackler Faculty members Paul Wiggins (Physics) and Georg Seelig (Electrical Engineering) have won Sloan Foundation Research Fellowships. Awarded annually since 1955, the fellowships are given to early-career scientists and scholars in recognition of achievement and the potential to contribute substantially to their fields. The $50,000 fellowships are awarded in chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, evolutionary and computational molecular biology, neuroscience, and physics.
Eb Fetz and colleagues win Keck Foundation grant to develop implantable computers to restore brain function
Eb Fetz and his team, including Brian Otis and Babak Parviz (Electrical Engineering), and Jeffrey Ojemann (Neurological Surgery) have been awarded a 3-year, $1 million grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation to continue their “neurochip” studies to restore brain function. The interdisciplinary team will create the “Keck Active Electrode Array” to promote restoration of brain, spine and muscle function in cases of brain injury due to trauma, stroke and other events. See full story in UW Today.
Asbury Lab publishes "Finger Trap" paper in Nature
Chip Asbury's lab, in conjunction with Sue Biggins’ lab at the FHCRC, published a paper in the Nov 25 issue of Nature, “Tension directly stabilizes reconstituted kinetochore-microtubule attachments”. The primary authors are Bungo Akiyoshi (a student in the Biggen’s lab), Krishna Sarangapani (a postdoc in the Asbury lab), and Andy Powers (a student in the Asbury lab). The article is discussed in a News & Views in the same issue. Further articles regarding the paper have been highlighted on the NSF website and on the UW News website.
First Sackler Scholars named
The first Sackler Scholars in Integrative Biophysics have been announced.
Thomas Portet will work with Sarah Keller (Chemistry) and Sharona Gordon (Physiology & Biophysics) on the effect of lipid composition and phase separation on membrane-embedded receptors. Thomas received his PhD in structural biology from the University of Toulouse.
Tom Erez will study the mechanisms that underlie neural control of biological movement with Emo Todorov (Applied Math and Computer Science) and Tom Daniel (Biology). Tom received his PhD from Washington University in St. Louis.
For more information, see the Current Scholars section.
Bill Catterall named recipient of the 2010 Gairdner Award
Bill Catterall, professor and chair of the UW Department of Pharmacology, is one of seven researchers to win this year’s Gairdner Award, one of the world’s most prestigious research awards. He is recognized by the foundation for discovering the voltage-gated sodium channel and calcium channel proteins that underlie electrical signaling in the brain. The signaling is the basis of how the brain receives, processes, and sends information. Catterall's work has also led to new understanding of the molecular mechanisms of function and regulation of these ion channel proteins.
Call for Proposals
We are pleased to announce the first ***CALL FOR PROPOSALS*** for the Sackler Scholars in Biophysics postdoctoral fellowship. Review of applications for this 1st round will begin on November 15, 2010. We strongly recommend that any pending proposals are submitted on or before that date. Proposals received after November 15 will be evaluated on a rolling basis, while positions remain open. Application instructions can be found here. Email complete application packages to email@example.com.
Launch of The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Scholars Program in Integrative Biophysics University of Washington
The University of Washington announces the launch of The Sackler Scholars in Integrative Biophysics Program, a new program to support postdoctoral fellows who wish to conduct cross-disciplinary research at the cutting edge of quantitative bioscience and medicine.
Made possible by a generous gift from the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Foundation, the UW Sackler Scholars Program in Integrative Biophysics is a component of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Laboratory of Biomedical and Physical Sciences in honor of their sons Jonathan Sackler and Richard Sackler.