NYSCF – Druckenmiller Fellow Dr. Hongda Li, The Rockefeller University, was first author on two papers investigating the zika virus. The first paper, published in Cell Stem Cell, described how zika may affect adult brain cells in addition to the mounting evidence that it causes abnormalities in the brains of developing fetuses. Using adult mouse models, the scientists showed that zika infects neural progenitor cells, cells thought to be critical in learning and memory.
The second paper in The American Journal of Human Genetics identified genetic mutations linked to the mechanisms causing autosomal-recessive primary microcephaly, a genetic form of microcephaly. This research helps illuminate the specific genetic pathways leading to microcephaly, a devastating side effect of zika infection in utero.
NYSCF – Robertson Investigator Alumna Dr. Shuibing Chen published her latest work in Cell Stem Cell creating stem cell models of type 2 diabetes in a step towards applying knowledge from genome-wide association studies to drug discovery efforts. Dr. Chen and her team at Weill Cornell Medical College created human stem cell models with genetic mutations in genes associated with the development of type 2 diabetes as identified through genome-wide association studies.
These stem cell models allow scientists to further interrogate the genes in question without harming patients, paving the way for precision therapy for metabolic diseases including type 2 diabetes.
NYSCF - Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Dr. Kay Tye, MIT, was awarded the 2016 Freedman Prize for Exceptional Basic Research for her project “Identifying Unique Neural Circuits for Anxiety Control.” The Klerman and Freedman Prizes are granted by the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation to exceptional researchers that have been supported by the NARSAD Young Investigator Grant.
Dr. Tye uses optogenetic, pharmacological, electrophysiological, and imaging techniques to study brain circuitry to elucidate pathways implicated in anxiety disorders, which represent the most common form of psychiatric illnesses.
Thirst as a motivator for animals to maintain healthy hydration has long been viewed as a homeostatic response to blood volume and other physiological factors; however, this response is so fast that it is anticipatory, and the mechanisms of which are poorly understood.
NYSCF - Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Dr. Zachary Knight and his team at the University of California, San Francisco, published their latest results exploring this phenomenon in mice. The scientists found an unexpected role for the subfornical (SFO) organ in the anticipatory regulation of thirst in mice, showing that thirst-promoting SFO neurons respond to inputs from the mouth during eating and drinking and then integrate these inputs with information about the composition of the blood.
These results provide a neural mechanism to explain longstanding observations about thirst in animals, including the prevalence of drinking during meals and the rapid satiation of thirst.
NYSCF - Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Dr. Deepta Bhattacharya, Washington University School of Medicine, published his latest work exploring the metabolic properties that allow for a sustained immune response after infection or immunization. The research describes how a combination of glucose uptake and mitochondrial pyruvate import allow a specific type of plasma cell to sustain durable antibody production.
Understanding the exact mechanisms of immunity and immune response will allow for new treatments for autoimmune and immune-related disorders.
NYSCF - Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Dr. Ed Boyden, MIT Media Lab, published two papers elaborating on the uses for his groundbreaking imaging technique, expansion microscopy.
Published in Nature Biotechnology and Nature Methods, the papers describe expansion microscopy using conventional fluorescently labeled antibodies and proteins, as well as the techniques use in nanoscale RNA imaging.
NYSCF – Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Dr. Dragana Rogulja, Harvard Medical School, published her lastest research studying the sex drive of male fruit flies to glean insights into how animals choose behaviors.
Published in Neuron, the researchers showed that the mating drive in male fruit flies is controlled by dopamine levels in one specific area of the brain, shedding light on how animals make and carry out decisions to perform or not to perform a behavior. The findings showed how changes to an internal state, in this case dopamine levels, can change behavior against what an animal was previously motivated to do. This research helps shed light on how behaviors are motivated across species.