BRAIN-STIM Awards

  • William DeBello (associate professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior) – “Neurorealistic simulation of learned behavior”
    DeBello and his team will utilize a known model of learning to explore the use of simulation techniques to accelerate the mapping of neural networks. The hope is that this information will lead to the next big advance in computing, running biologically inspired algorithms on biologically inspired hardware. Such architectures have potential to radically lower power consumption and contribute massively parallel processing capabilities for increased simultaneous computation that will greatly augment what is possible in today’s computers and mobile platforms.
  • Paul Hagerman (professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine) – “CLARITY and STED shed light on neurodegenerative disorders”
    Investigating ways to identify the initial triggering events that give rise to the neurodegenerative disorder fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS) will be the focus of this team. FXTAS may be one of the most common adult-onset, single-gene neurological diseases. Symptoms include tremors, instability, and difficulty with coordinated muscle movements like walking. Hagerman’s group plans to employ a novel genetic sequencing approach in combination with state-of-the-art microscopy imaging to better understand the mechanisms and pathways that lead to the disease, which could later serve as a starting point for therapeutic intervention. Innovate article on Dr. Hagerman (PDF)
  • Johannes Hell (professor of pharmacology) – “Detection of endogenous PSD-95, α-actinin and other proteins and their interactions in live cells by fluorescent peptides”
    The objective of this team will be to pioneer a novel imaging method to map brain connectivity on a molecular level. More specifically, the team will explore the dynamic interactions between synaptic proteins and binding partners, as well as identify when and where they occur. Most major synaptic proteins have been identified, but their precise localization and dynamics at various synapses is almost completely unknown.
  • Kimberley McAllister (professor of neurology and neurobiology, physiology and behavior) – “The functional synaptome: a novel screen for molecular signatures of functional synaptic state to bridge connectomics and large-scale recordings in mapping the brain”
    Tackling a major challenge in neuroscience, McAllister’s team endeavors to develop an approach to identify molecular markers of the functional state of synapses that can be used for large-scale functional mapping of the brain. The project, aims to provide critical information about the brain’s circuits needed for mapping, a fundamental goal of the BRAIN Initiative.
  • Martin Usrey (professor of neurology and neurobiology, physiology and behavior) – “Single-neuron transcriptome classification of primate visual pathways”
    Usrey’s team plans the first study of its kind on the primate retina, designed to establish the molecular identity of each of the 19 ganglion cell types that give rise to the optic nerve. By establishing the functionally diverse pathways in the primate visual system, the team hopes to get a better understanding of the intrinsic circuitry of the eye and its role in human vision as well as contribute to the broader goal of regenerating retinal circuits damaged by blinding retinal degenerative disease.