Neurobiology News

UAB Reporter
The Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development and the School of Medicine are pleased to announce that David Sweatt, Ph.D., has agreed to serve as interim director of the Civitan International Research Center (CIRC) at UAB effective June 1, 2015. An accomplished investigator in the study of biochemical mechanisms of learning and memory, David is currently the Evelyn F. McKnight Endowed Chairman of the Department of Neurobiology and the Director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute. He also holds secondary appointments in the Departments of Cell, Molecular and Developmental Biology, Genetics, and Psychology. Dr. Sweatt will serve until a search for a permanent director is completed, a process that will be initiated very shortly. As you are all aware, this appointment is made necessary because of Harry Sontheimer's decision to accept a position at Virginia Tech beginning this summer. We anticipate a smooth transition during the interim period and no loss of the remarkable momentum that Harry has generated as director over the past years. Please join us in congratulating David on his appointment and Harry on his new opportunity.

Dick Marchase and Selwyn Vickers

8th McKnight Inter-institutional Meeting
Miami, Florida
April 29 - May 1, 2015

Dr. Gwen King was honored with the Graduate Dean’s Award for Excellence  in Mentorship on April 21, 2015.  A group of 10 students nominated her for her outstanding dedication to her students. Join us in congratulating Gwen on receiving this award!

Gwen is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology and director of the SPIN Program at UAB.

A special THANK YOU to all of the terrific neuroscience trainees who presented their work at this year’s UAB Comprehensive Neuroscience Center Retreat!  The following students received presentation awards…
CNC Retreat
Postdoc Poster Presenter Winner!
Winner - Xin Xu.  The BDNF val-66-met polymorphism impairs dendritic complexity and dendritic spine density and form in hippocampal neurons of Mecp2 knockout mice.  Xin Xu , Jordi Garcia, Rachel Ewalt, Shelly Nason and Lucas Pozzo-Miller.
Graduate Trainee Poster Presenter Winners!
Winner – Lauren Hablitz.  Circadian Response to Melatonin is Mediated by G-protein Coupled Inwardly Rectifying Potassium (GIRK) Channels.  Lauren M. Hablitz, Hylton E. Molzof, and Karen L. Gamble
Winner – Ian Kimbrough. Vascular Amyloidosis Impairs the Gliovascular Unit in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer Disease. Ian F. Kimbrough, Stefanie Robel, Erik Roberson, and Harald Sontheimer
Winner – Thaddaeus Kwan. Post-transcriptional Regulation of Inflammatory Cytokines by the RNA-binding Protein Human Antigen R in Astrocytes after Spinal Cord Injury.  Thaddaeus Kwan, Candace Floyd, Betty Pat, and Peter King
Winner – Laura McMeekin.  PGC-1α-Mediated Transcriptional Regulation in Pyramidal Neurons Impacts Electrophysiological Properties and Behavioral Output. Laura J. McMeekin, Andrew S. Bohannon, John J. Hablitz  and Rita M. Cowell 
Data Blitz Presenter Winners!
Winner - Kirsten Evonuk.  System xc–transporter Modulates CNS Infiltration of Immune Cells and Reactive Gliosis in Autoimmune Inflammatory Disease.  Kirsten Evonuk, Brandi Baker, Ryan Doyle, Carson Moseley, Christine Sestero, Bryce Johnston, Patrizia De Sarno, Andrew Tang, Igor Gembitsky, Sandra Hewett, Harald Sontheimer, Chander Raman, and Tara DeSilva
Winner - Joseph C. Griffis.  Induction of Functional and Structural Plasticity by Intermittent Theta Burst Stimulation in Post–Stroke Aphasia.  Joseph C. Griffis, Rodolphe Nenert, Jane B. Allendorfer, and Jerzy P. Szaflarski
Winner – Natasha Pacheco.  Aberrant Astrocyte Maturation Contributes to Rett Syndrome Pathogenesis.  Natasha L. Pacheco, Ian Michalak, and Michelle L. Olsen 

Bioethics Team Wins National Championship

The UAB Bioethics Team repeated last week as national champions at the Bioethics Bowl, hosted by Florida State University. UAB advanced against Dartmouth, UCLA, Georgetown, and Rutgers. UAB last won the Bowl at Duke in 2011.

All of the team members are in UAB's Early Medical and Dental Acceptance Program, which is directed by their coach and Chair of the Department of Philosophy Dr. Gregory Pence. The team is comprised of Kevin Shrestha, Biology, Honors College (UHP); Melanie Nichols, Biology, Honors College (UHP); Ameen Barghi, Neuroscience and CAS Individually Designed Major in Translational Research, Honors College (Science and Tech); Brynna Paulukaitis, Neuroscience, Honors College (Science and Tech); and Eric Kim Finance (School of Business), Honors College. Barghi—our 2015 Rhodes Scholar—led the team, which according to Dr. Pence, cemented its win with a passionate, articulate attack by Paulukaitis, a senior, and Nichols, a freshman.

We are so proud the students, Dr. Pence, and their tremendous accomplishment.

Congratulations, and Go Blazers!
R.E. Palazzo, Dean
Congratulations to the UAB winners at the 14th Annual University of Alabama System Honors Research Conference held at the University of Alabama on April 11, 2015.  As has been the case in previous years, UAB's honors students were well represented at this prestigious honors conference, which brings together honors students from UA, UAH, and UAB for podium and poster presentations that are assessed by a panel of judges from the various campuses. Four of the eight categories were won by UAB students.

UAB Winners:
Ali Massoud, "English Education in Egypt." University Honors Program [Mentor: Michelle Forman, Dept. of History]

Social and Behavioral Sciences [Poster]
Lindsey Yessick, " An examination of pain catastrophizing and experimental pain sensitivity in patients with chronic low back pain." Department of Psychology Honors Program [Mentor: Dr. Burel Goodin, Dept. of Psychology]

Natural Sciences and Mathematics [Poster]
Rhiana Simon, "Regulation of DNA methylation and gene expression by extra-coding RNAs." Honiors College [Mentor: Dr. Jeremy Day, Dept. of Neurobiology]

Social and Behavioral Sciences [Podium]
Sarah Terry, "Effects of habitual caffeine consumption on pain sensitivity." Science and Technology Honors Program [Mentor: Dr. Burel Goodin, Dept. of Psychology]

Congratulations to all 19 UAB students who represented our university with great aplomb.

Thanks also to UAB faculty judges (Category judged): Dr. Shannon Blanton (Interdisciplinary); Dr. Jacqueline Nikles (Natural Sciences and Mathematics), Dr. Rusty Rushton (Arts and Humanities), and Dr. Tino Unlap (Biomedical & Health Sciences)

Mike Sloane, PhD.
UASHRC UAB Coordinator
Director, University Honors Program
Associate Professor of Psychology
University of Alabama at Birmingham