An animal’s ability to perceive light incorporates many complex processes. Now, researchers in Craig Montell’s lab in the MCDB department have used fruit flies and mice to make novel discoveries about sensory physiology at both cellular and molecular levels that are important for light processing. Their most recent findings, which improve the scientific understanding of the signaling cascade necessary for phototransduction — the process by which light is converted into electrical signals in the photoreceptor cells in the retina of the eye — appear today in the journal Cell Reports.
MCDB professor Craig Montell is the recipient of a 2015 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Pioneer Award worth $500,000 per annum over five years. The Pioneer Award supports individual scientists of exceptional creativity, who propose pioneering and transforming approaches to major challenges in biomedical science.
Dr. Simpson was a Group Leader at HHMI/Janelia, and moved to UCSB in August of 2015. Her research focuses on mapping neural circuit in the fly brain that coordinate motor behaviors, such as grooming.
Flashing calamari? The California market squid (Doryteuthis opalescens) has amazing light-manipulating abilities. While this species shares the gift of camouflage with most other cuttlefish, octopus and squid in the cephalopod family, it can also communicate and signal underwater through intricate changes in the patterns of color flashing from its skin.
Stem cells have a multitude of uses, not the least of which is to create tissue models that reflect human physiology. Such stem cell-derived models have enormous potential in research and application. One possible use, developed by a team of scientists led by MCDB professor James Thomson, involves reducing the number of drug failures in clinical trials and offering a cost-effective approach for assessing chemical safety.
Medical research has yet to discover an Alzheimer’s treatment that effectively slows the disease’s progression, but neuroscientists at UC Santa Barbara may have uncovered a mechanism by which onset can be delayed by as much as 10 years. That mechanism is a gene variant — an allele — found in a part of the genome that controls inflammation. The variant appears to prevent levels of the protein eotaxin from increasing with age, which it usually does hand in hand with inflammation. The findings appear in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
It’s bacteria against bacteria, and one of them is going down. Researchers led by MDCB professor Chris Hayes have demonstrated how certain microbes exploit proteins in nearby bacteria to deliver toxins and kill them. The mechanisms behind this bacterial warfare, the researchers suggest, could be harnessed to target pathogenic bacteria. Their findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
An interdisciplinary team of UCSB researchers including MCDB professor Herb Waite studied and improved a small molecule that possesses an impressive ability to adhere in wet environments. Their findings appear today in the journal Science.
The MCDB Department welcomes two new faculty members: Dr. Julie Simpson and Dr. Michael Goard. Dr. Simpson will be moving from her current position as a Group Leader at HHMI/Janelia. Her research focuses on mapping neural circuit in the fly brain that coordinate motor behaviors, such as grooming. She will be arriving in August 2015. Dr. Goard will be moving from Dr. Mriganka Sur’s lab at MIT. His research is defining the cortical circuits involved in short term memory in the mouse. Dr. Goard will be arriving in the spring of 2016.
MCDB professor Thomas Weimbs and his team have developed a targeted drug delivery method that could potentially slow the progression of polycystic kidney disease. Weimbs and his team have found a method that enables a class of antibodies, immunoglobulin-A (IgA), to penetrate the cyst walls in PKD kidneys. The strategy opens up the possibility of repurposing a large number of existing drugs for PKD therapy. The researchers’ results appear in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.