Neurobiology News

McKnight Foundation Press Release

McKnight Brain Research Foundation Announces Support
For Proposed National Brain Study

The McKnight Brain Research Foundation* and its four McKnight Brain Institutes voice strong support for President Barack Obama's plan for a decade-long scientific effort to examine the workings of the human brain by way of a National Study.  According to a report published by PricewaterhouseCoopers in May 2012, total costs of all diseases of the brain in the United States will reach $515 billion and expected to be 19% of the total national health expenditures in 2012.  People with diseases of the brain also have a shortened life expectancy and their quality of life is diminished.

Cognitive decline and dementia associated with aging are major components of the brain diseases in the aging population and the costs of this group alone are projected to be $47.3 billion in 2012 in the United States. The decline in cognitive aging abilities resulting from the aging process is of universal concern.  Older adults make up the fastest growing age group worldwide.  At the present time, there are 700 million people over the age of 60 and it is projected to be two billion by 2050. 

Since its inception in 1999, the McKnight Brain Research Foundation and the host institutions of the four McKnight Brain Institutes have invested over $70 million in support of research in cognitive aging and memory loss associated with the aging process. The foundation promotes research of the brain with the goal of preventing or delaying age-related memory loss, and strives to develop therapeutic interventions.

The McKnight Brain Research Foundation has established Brain Institutes at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Arizona, the University of Florida and the University of Miami Miller  School of Medicine.  The research scientists in each of the McKnight Brain Institutes investigate the fundamental mechanisms that underlie the neurobiology of memory and combine their findings with clinical relevance to the problems of age related memory loss.

“The McKnight Brain Research Foundation and its four McKnight Brain Institutes are very excited to merge our complementary goals and objectives with the National Brain study”, said Dr. Robert Wah, trustee of the McKnight Brain Research Foundation.  “We pledge individual and collective dedication to any collaborative research which has the potential of preventing, retarding, or ameliorating cognitive decline associated with the aging process”.

“Aging-associated disorders of cognition exact a heavy toll on families, medical care organizations, and needless to say the patients themselves”, said UAB Evelyn F. McKnight Institute Director Dr. David Sweatt.  “The need for investment in understanding disorders of the brain has never been greater than it is right now”

*The McKnight Brain Research Foundation® ( is a tax exempt organization organized exclusively for charitable, educational and scientific purposes.

Jarvis Johnson = Merck Scholar

Jarvis Johnson has been named a 2013 Merck Scholar sponsored by UNCF.  He is a biology major performing research on epilepsy in Dr. Farah Lubin's lab.  He hopes to one day become a physician who practices clinical research by combing both science and medicine.

Please congratulate Jarvis on this wonderful accomplishment!


Ray L. Watts, M.D., Named Seventh President

Ms. UAB 2012...Deepa Etikala

Deepa Etikala was named Ms. UAB 2012 at the Homecoming game on October 6. She is an outstanding member of the UAB Neuroscience Program and a member of the University Honors Program. It was  Deepa’s outstanding credentials and charming personality that helped her receive the majority of the votes.   

For the complete story go to:

Sweatt on NPR

Dr. Sweatt was featured on NPR's Talk of the Nation "What your Genes Can Tell You About Your Memory." Congratulations to Dr. Sweatt for recognition of his important work in this important way.

Transverse Myelitis Foundation to Fund UAB Research

After receiving treatment at Spain Rehabilitation Center, and after speaking with Dr. Tara DeSilva, Dr. Candace Floyd, and Dr. Amie McLain, Mike Jezdimir decided to start a wonderful effort to support research and education in transverse myelitis.  Dr. DeSilva will serve as the Scientific Director for the Foundation!  Tory Minus, the educational liaison for the TJ Atchison SCI Research Program, was also critical in helping Mike and his family with the vision and process of setting this up.


Olsen Receives Rett Award

Michelle Olsen, Ph.D., is the recipient of one of the International Rett Syndrome Foundation (IRSF) New Basic Research Awards - Regular Research Grants.   Dr. Olsen is an assistant professor in the Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology Department with a secondary appointment in the Department of Neurobiology. 


Wei Li's Hard Work Pays Off

Wei Li's research paper titled "Activity-dependent BDNF release and TRPC signaling is impaired in hippocampal neurons of Mecp2 mutant mice" was recently published in PNAS.  To view the article go to:

Wei Li is a post doctoral fellow in the Neurobiology lab of Lucas Pozzo-Miller.