Category: Recent News
The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) honored Dr. Tsuneya Ikezu, Professor of Pharmacology and Neurology, last week for his continued efforts in Alzheimer’s disease research. AAQI is a national grassroots charity that raises awareness and funds research through the donation and sale of small art quilts.
Marge Farquharson and Dawn Forde, AAQI representatives, visited the Department of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics at Boston University School of Medicine to present a quilt to Dr. Ikezu and the Laboratory of Molecular NeuroTherapeutics. This particular quilt displays 54 names of those afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease on the dull side of the fabric to symbolize the mental fading that occurs in 5.4 million patients in the nation and their loss of memories and skills. Each name represents the story of a once vital and productive individual.
Dr. Ikezu also received $60,560 for future AD research projects. His earlier study, “Exosome-mediated dissemination of tau aggregation in Alzheimer’s,” investigated the role of microglia in mediating the spread of tau aggregation. Hopefully this study will provide a new therapeutic target for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative is an all-volunteer organization that has raised more than $925,000 for Alzheimer’s disease research since January 2006. AAQI’s goal is to raise $1,000,000 by the end of 2013 and to provide funding directly to Alzheimer’s disease researchers. In this way AAQI aims to make a difference, one quilt at a time! For more information on the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative, please click here.
Congratulations on your award and recognition, Dr. Ikezu!
Rachel L. Flynn, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics and Medicine, Section of Hematology and Medical Oncology, and a member of The Cancer Center, was awarded a $50,000 grant for the coming year from the FOSTER (Fighting Osteosarcoma Through Everyday Research) Foundation. Dr. Flynn was recruited to BU from the Massachusetts General Cancer Center in June 2013. This is the first funding award for which Rachel has applied since joining the BUSM faculty in June.
FOSTER Foundation was established in June 2001 by Stacey Leondis, then a student at Garden City High School, to support osteosarcoma research. Osteosarcoma is a rare form of bone cancer primarily affecting children.
Kudos to Dr. Flynn and welcome to BUSM!
Richard D. Wainford, Ph.D., F.A.H.A., Assistant Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Medicine, Section of Cardiovascular Medicine, and a member of the Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute, has been selected to give an oral presentation at the 3rd annual International Society of Hypertension’s New Investigators’ Symposium in New Orleans, Louisiana on September 10, 2013. His presentation will be on “PVN Gαi2 Subunit Proteins – The Key to a Salt-resistant Phenotype?”
Since joining the BUSM faculty in fall 2011, Dr. Wainford for has received numerous awards for his research, including the 2013 American Physiological Society Shih-Chun Wang Young Investigator Award; the 2013 American Physiological Society Central Nervous System Section New Investigator Award; and the 2013 Endocrine Society Early Investigator Award.
Dr. Wolozin is a professor in the Departments of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics and Neurology, Principal Investigator of the Laboratory of Neurodegeneration and member of The Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center. For more information on Dr. Wolozin’s research, please visit his webpage here.
Congratulations, Dr. Wolozin!
Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have uncovered important clues about a biochemical pathway in the brain that may one day expand treatment options for schizophrenia. The study, published online in the journal Molecular Pharmacology, was led by faculty within the department of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics at BUSM.
Patients with schizophrenia suffer from a life-long condition that can produce delusions, disordered thinking, and breaks with reality. A number of treatments are available for schizophrenia, but many patients do not respond to these therapies or experience side effects that limit their use.
This research focused on key components of the brain known as NMDA receptors. These receptors are located on nerve cells in the brain and serve as biochemical gates that allow calcium ions (electrical charges) to enter the cell when a neurotransmitter, such as glutamate, binds to the receptor. Proper activation of these receptors is critical for sensory perception, memory and learning, including the transfer of short-term memory into long-term storage. Patients with schizophrenia have poorly functioning or “hypoactive” NMDA receptors, suggesting the possibility of treatment with drugs that positively affect these receptors. Currently the only way to enhance NMDA receptor function is through the use of agents called agonists that directly bind to the receptor on the outer surface of the cell, opening the gates to calcium ions outside the cell.
In this study, the researchers discovered a novel “non-canonical” pathway in which NMDA receptors residing inside the cell are stimulated by a neuroactive steroid to migrate to the cell surface (a process known as trafficking), thus increasing the number of receptors available for glutamate activation. The researchers treated neural cells from the cerebral cortex with the novel steroid pregnenolone sulfate (PregS) and found that the number of working NMDA receptors on the cell surface increased by 60 to 100 percent within 10 minutes. The exact mechanism by which this occurs is not completely clear, but it appears that PregS increases calcium ions within the cell, which in turn produces a green light signal for more frequent trafficking of NMDA receptors to the cell surface.
Although still in the early stages, further research in this area may be instrumental in the development of treatments not only for schizophrenia, but also for other conditions associated with malfunctioning NMDA receptors, such as age-related decreases in memory and learning ability.
View the paper online here: http://molpharm.aspetjournals.org/content/early/2013/05/28/mol.113.085696.full.pdf+html
Citation Information: Emmanuel Kostakis*, Conor Smith*, Ming-Kuei Jang, Stella C. Martin, Kyle G. Richards, Shelley J. Russek, Terrell T. Gibbs, David H. Farb. The neuroactive steroid pregnenolone sulfate stimulates trafficking of functional NMDA receptors to the cell surface via a non-canonical G-protein and Ca++ dependent mechanism.
Bioscience Academy student Zainab Mahmud awarded the Paul Queenan Memorial Award for academic excellence
Bioscience Academy student Zainab Mahmud has been awarded the Paul Queenan Memorial Award for academic excellence. Zainab completed her internship in the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology under the mentorship of Dr. Marcia Ratner and Dr. David Farb. Upon completion of the Bioscience Academy program requirements, Zainab will receive a Certificate in Applied Biotechnology.
According to the BioScience Academy website, “BioScience Academy is a BU-based federally funded program administered through Metropolitan College and the School of Medicine. The academy offers biotechnology training to unemployed and underemployed Boston area residents who already have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering, or math. The goal is that by their spring 2013 graduation from the two-semester program, these men and women will be headed to new and rewarding laboratory jobs in a healthy and growing Massachusetts job sector. The city of Boston wrote the $1.4 million grant and picked BU as the main training vendor for the program.”
Zainab Mahmud is part of the inaugural class of the Bioscience Academy and is the first recipient of the Paul Queenan Memorial Award for academic excellence. We are so proud of Zainab’s accomplishments and wish her the best in the next phase of her scientific career!
Congratulations to Benjamin Wolozin, M.D., Ph.D., who was selected to receive the Massachusetts Neuroscience Consortium Award for his proposal to identify the target(s) of action of the TDP-43 inclusion-inhibitory compounds that he has identified.
The Massachusetts Neuroscience Consortium, “is designed to accelerate pre-clinical research available to the pharmaceutical industry, introduce, academic researchers to the challenges of targeted research, and facilitate industry-academic partnerships.”
Dr. Wolozin is a professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics and the Neurology, Principal Investigator of the Laboratory of Neurodegeneration and member of The Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center. For more information on Dr. Wolozin’s research, please visit his webpage here.
For more information on the Massachusetts Neuroscience Consortium Award, please visit Boston.com for their press release on the award.
Hat’s off to Dr. Wolozin!
Congratulations to Anurag Singh, Ph.D., on being awarded the competitive American Lung Association Lung Cancer Discovery Award for his proposal on “Identifying a KRAS-Regulated Micro-RNA Signaling Network in Lung Cancer.”
According to Dr. Singh, “KRAS mutant lung cancers are notoriously refractory to chemotherapeutic agents. This research proposal will seek to identify novel strategies for the clinical management of these cancers with the overall aim of significantly improving the overall survival of cancer patients. The KRAS gene is mutated in 20-30% of non-small cell lung cancers but effective therapeutics that block KRAS function have not been identified thus far. As an alternative approach we will formulate detailed mechanistic information about the mechanisms by which mutant KRAS promotes tumor cell survival and resistance to therapeutic agents. We hypothesize that small non-coding microRNAs play a crucial role in mediating drug resistance. Interfering with the function of these microRNAs will lead to amelioration of drug resistance and will lead to enhanced efficacy of currently available therapeutic agents used to treat to lung cancer.”
Dr. Singh is an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics and the Department of Medicine, Division of Medical Oncology, Principal Investigator of the Laboratory for Cancer Pharmacogenomics and member of The Cancer Center. For more information on Dr. Singh’s research, please visit his webpage here.
For more information on the Lung Cancer Discovery Award, please visit the American Lung Association website.
Congratulations, Dr. Singh!
Six students in the Biomolecular Pharmacology Program were honored at graduation ceremonies this past weekend for earning their M.A., Ph.D., or M.D./Ph.D. degrees. Our congratulations go to them for their academic accomplishments, their discoveries through thesis or dissertation research, and their acquisition of professional skills as scientists. Their achievements have been expertly guided by their advisors, whom we congratulate and thank for their dedication to predoctoral training. The students, their degrees, advisors, and thesis or dissertation titles are:
Amy Andreucci, M.A. (January)– Alan Herbert, MB.ChB, Ph.D.
Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: an Appropriate Option for Treating Obesity?
Diane Chan, M.D./Ph.D. – Benjamin Wolozin, M.D./Ph.D.
LRRK2 and HDAC6: Directing Traffic at the Crossroads between Authophagy, Translation, and Neurodegeneration
Jennifer Lynn Duffen, Ph.D. – Kenneth Walsh, Ph.D.
Adiponectin Receptors in Revascularization and Metabolic Dysfunction
Earl Gillespie, Ph.D. – Susan E. Leeman, Ph.D.
Colonic Epithelial Genes in the Transition From Chronic Inflammation to Carcinoma in Colitis-Associated Cancer: Focus on the Truncated Neurokinin-1 Receptor
Catherine Wei, M.D./Ph.D.– Jiang-Fan Chen, M.D./Ph.D.
The Effect of Brain Region-Specific Adenosine A2A Receptor Knockout on Cognition and Psychomotor Behavior in Mice
Stefan Yohe, Ph.D. (January) – Mark Grinstaff, Ph.D.
Superhydrophobic Materials for Drug Delivery
Best wishes to these graduates for the next phase of their careers!
The SAN FRANCISCO DECLARATION ON RESEARCH Assessment (DORA) “aims to stop the use of the ‘journal impact factor’ in judging an individual scientist’s work. The Declaration states that the impact factor must not be used as “a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, to assess an individual scientist’s contributions, or in hiring, promotion, or funding decisions.” DORA also provides a list of specific actions, targeted at improving the way scientific publications are assessed, to be taken by funding agencies, institutions, publishers, researchers, and the organizations that supply metrics. These recommendations have thus far been endorsed by more than 150 leading scientists and 75 scientific organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science (the publisher of Science).
The DORA recommendations are critical for keeping science healthy. As a bottom line, the leaders of the scientific enterprise must accept full responsibility for thoughtfully analyzing the scientific contributions of other researchers. To do so in a meaningful way requires the actual reading of a small selected set of each researcher’s publications, a task that must not be passed by default to journal editors.” – Bruce Alberts