MCDB professor Michael Goard and his colleagues studying how the brain uses perception of the environment to guide action are working with mice to map the neural circuits responsible for transforming sensation into movement. In a new paper, published in the journal eLife, Goard and colleagues make progress in mapping brain activity in mice during simple but fundamental cognitive tasks. Although a mouse’s brain is much smaller than a human’s, remarkable structural similarities exist. The mouse brain is composed of about 75 million nerve cells or neurons, which are wired together in complex networks that underlie sophisticated behaviors.
Clinical trials and translational medicine have certainly given people hope and rapid pathways to cures for some of mankind’s most troublesome diseases, but now is not the time to overlook the power of basic research, says MCDB professor and neuroscientist Kenneth S. Kosik. In fact, as he points out in an article published in the journal Science — along with coauthors Terry Sejnowski, Marcus Raichle, Aaron Ciechanover and David Baltimore — supporting fundamental cell biology research into neurodegeneration may be the key to accelerating understanding of neurodegenerative and so-called “incurable” diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Providing structural support and protection against such conditions as blistering, cataracts and dementia, intermediate filament proteins (IFs) reside in every cell in the human body. In insects, however, IFs are nowhere to be found.
Scientists have posited that in these creatures another kind of protein is responsible for key IF functions; but exactly what kind — or even where to start looking — has been a mystery.
UC Santa Barbara announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations grant winner; GCE is an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. David Low, a professor in UCSB’s Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, will pursue an innovative global health and development research project titled “Strategy for development of enteric pathogen-specific T2 bacteriophage targeting the essential outer membrane protein BamA.”
Congratulations to NICOLE LEUNG, a BMSE PhD student with MCDB professor Craig Montell, who took home the grand prize at the 2016 GRAD SLAM and will represent UCSB at the UC Grad Slam inter-campus competition.
MCDB is honored to announce a very generous gift from The Gareatis Foundation that will substantially enhance the undergraduate MCDB program. The Foundation's support will be instrumental to updating the Cell Biology, Biochemistry, and Molecular Genetics upper division lab classes. This gift represents an important commitment to the undergraduate educational experience in the sciences at UC Santa Barbara, and we are proud to have them as our partners in our rigorous degree programs. The funds will be used to give students access to state-of-the-art instrumentation and facilities and to provide stimulating educational and research training opportunities at the forefront modern life sciences. Thank you to the Perlegos family and The Gareatis Foundation.
MCDB neuroscientists document some of the first steps in the process by which a stem cell transforms into different cell types. How do neurons become neurons? They all begin as stem cells, undifferentiated and with the potential to become any cell in the body. Until now, however, exactly how that happens has been somewhat of a scientific mystery. New research conducted by UCSB neuroscientists led by MCDB professor Ken Kosik has deciphered some of the earliest changes that occur before stems cells transform into neurons and other cell types. Working with human embryonic stems cells in petri dishes, postdoctoral fellow Jiwon Jang discovered a new pathway that plays a key role in cell differentiation. The findings appear in the journal Cell.
Diet, exercise, a good night’s sleep — all sound recommendations for mitigating one’s risk for everything from heart disease to diabetes and, as it turns out, Alzheimer’s. The neurodegenerative condition affects an estimated 5.3 million people in the United States alone — and that number that is sure to grow as the population continues to age. But several simple strategies may help some stave off the disease, according to a new book by MCDB neuroscientist Kenneth S. Kosik. Spelling out what you can do to reduce your risk of getting Alzheimer’s, “Outsmarting Alzheimer’s” offers dozens of effective health “prescriptions” that are easy to implement.
What if polycystic kidney disease (PKD) could be combatted with a strategy as simple as dieting? Such a finding would surely be welcome news to the 12 million people worldwide with the genetic disease. New research from UC Santa Barbara suggests that reducing food intake may slow the growth of the cysts that are symptomatic of PKD, an inherited disorder in which clusters of cysts develop in the kidneys. A study by MCDB professor Thomas Weimbs and colleagues has demonstrated that in mouse models, a modest decrease in food intake resulted in substantially diminished cyst growth. The findings appear in the American Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology.
The next great technological advance in smartphone screens and solar cells could come from an unexpected source — giant clams. New research from the lab of MCDB professor Daniel Morse shows some species of these large bivalves produce their white coloration via color-mixing techniques akin to those used in reflective displays. Appearing in the journal Optica, the study focuses on two species of giant clam and the symbiotic photosynthetic algae with which they cohabitate. Iridescent cells on the inside edge of the clams’ shells where the algae live produce a dazzling array of colors, including blues, greens, golds and — more rarely — white, which the animals mix in different ways.