NYSCF - Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Dr. Takaki Komiyama, University of California San Diego, published his breakthrough research showing that learning in mice impacts how their brains process what they see. This research, published in Nature Neuroscience, showed that the mouse visual cortex operation, or sight process center of the brain, significantly changed in operation based on top down processes during learning. Top-down referrs to learning beginning with thought, as opposed to bottom-up which begins with the senses.
The scientists showed that prior perceptions or knowledge of an object significantly affect perception in mice, supporting the long-held theory that the brain does not represent the environment as it stands, but rather attempts to predict it based on known information.
NYSCF - Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Dr. Jayaraj Rajagopal, Massachusetts General Hospital, discovered that parent stem cells can serve as niches, or cell maintenance and regulatory environments, for their daughter cells. Published in Nature, this research describes how airway progenitor cells send a forward signal to their progeny cells, and further, shows this signal is necessary for progeny cell maintenance.
Understanding the full mechanisms behind stem cell differentiation and maintenance is key to using stem cells to fulfill the promise of regenerative medicine.
In addition, NYSCF Junior Leadership Council Board Member Brandon Law contributed research and was an author on the paper.
NYSCF Principal Investigator Dr. Valentina Fossati and NYSCF - Druckenmiller Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Panagiotis Douvaras improved a method of deriving oligodendrocyte progenitor cells – the types of brain cells implicated in multiple sclerosis and other disorders – from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells in only 55 days. This breakthrough, published in Nature Protocols, describes a robust, reproducible protocol that is significantly faster than previous techniques, enabling researchers to accelerate and complete experiments that have not been possible before. This technique will vastly improve research on multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders as well as accelerate drug testing and new treatment discovery.
NYSCF - Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Dr. Edward Chang, University of California, San Francisco, has been named a 2015 Blavatnik National Laureate in Life Sciences for his pioneering work establishing the neural code for human language processing. Dr. Chang's work focuses on how the brain allows us to see and hear.
Winners of the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists represent an elite group of young researchers in the life science, physical science, and engineering disciplines. The awards celebrate current achievements and recognize the immense potential of these young researchers in their chosen fields. Each of the three 2015 Laureates will receive a $250,000 prize - the largest unrestricted prize for young researchers - given by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and administered by the New York Academy of Sciences.
NYSCF once again had a large presence at the thirteenth annual meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) in Stockholm, Sweden. NYSCF Scientist Dr. Mitsutoshi Yamada was invited to give a talk on his research using nuclear transfer for the prevention of mitochondrial diseases; a key topic after the UK Parliament voted to approve starting clinical trials using these techniques for the prevention of disease this spring.
Each year, the ISSCR annual meeting travels to a different location around the globe bringing together top researchers and organizations for the intensive, four-day event, this year held at the Stockholmsmassan Exhibition and Congress Centre. Next June, the fourteenth annual meeting will be held in San Francisco, California.
NYSCF Principal Investigator Dr. Danny Freytes led a team of NYSCF scientists at the NYSCF Research Institute in a study investigating the inflammatory response of the immune system after cardiac injury. The scientists tested the protein cross-talk between stem cell-derived heart cells and macrophages - a type of immune cell - in a simulated inflammatory environment in the laboratory to shed light into how these interactions can be harnessed to design successful therapies.
Understanding the cardiac inflammatory response after injury, and how stem cell-derived cardiac cells behave in this environment, is a key component of developing successful cell replacement treatments or cardiac patch therapies for damaged or sick cardiac tissues.
NYSCF - Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Dr. Takaki Komiyama, University of California San Diego, identified a key step in how neurons process motor learning. Using two-photon imaging in awake mice, the scientists showed that somatostatin inhibition within a specific class of neurons is a key regulator of learning-related changes and the acquisition of motor skills.
Understanding how normal neural circuits work in motor skills learning has vast implications on research and ultimately finding treatments and cures for diseases and injuries related to these neural pathways.
NYSCF - Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Dr. Jacob Hanna, Weizmann Institute of Science, tested an alternate method of stem cell transdifferentiation - the process of a somatic cell turning into other cell types without passing through a pluripotent state - showing that the vast majority of reprogrammed mouse heart and brain stem cells created using this method did, in fact, briefly pass through a pluripotent state.
These findings, published in Nature Biotechnology, underscore the importance of understanding the steps and phases during cell reprogramming using different methods.