Tessa Harrison portrait

Save the date

The 27th Annual H.W. Magoun Lecture, 2016

Baljit Khakh, Ph.D.
Professor, Neurobiology and Physiology
"Astrocyte Roles In Neural Circuits: New Tools, Findings and Concepts"
Hosted by Chris Evans, PhD
Director, Brain Research Institute
Professor, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
June 14th, 2016
The Neuroscience Research Building Auditorium
Learn more about Dr. Khakh's research here.

Named for the institute's founder Dr Horace (Tid) Magoun, this annual lecture recognizes the outstanding achievements of a BRI member. 


The Brain Research Institute is hosting a solo exhibition by Israeli artist 


Art inspired by the human brain

February 3rd - June 3rd, 2016
Mondays - Fridays, 8am - 6pm
Gonda Building Foyer

Visitors welcome.

The exhibition catalog is available in English and Hebrew.

More on the artist here.


Theresa Harrison

The BRI Congratulates

Esther H Nie
From the lab of S Thomas Carmichael, MD, PhD
Winner of the Eva Kavan Prize for Excellence in Research on the Brain

This award recognizes an outstanding graduate student for excellence in the field of basic research in neuroscience 

Esther is a medical student at the DGSOM, and a graduate student in the NSIDP. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

Esther’s graduate studies focused on how the brain learns and recovers after injury. In the Carmichael lab, she has explored how these two processes intersect during limb overuse therapy after stroke. During her dissertation research, Esther identified molecular targets to improve cortical reorganization after stroke. At present, she uses cutting edge CRISPR/cas9 genome engineering techniques to further understand the underlying biology of these targets.

In the future, Esther hopes to be a neurologist and lead her own research lab.

The Kavan Prize will be presented preceding the Magoun Lecture, June 14th, 2016 at 12:00pm. (Neuroscience Research Building Auditorium)

Eva Mary Kavan, MD, came to UCLA in 1956 to join one of the first teams to do open-heart surgery in the west. She was a pioneer in the administration of anesthesia, utilizing the electroencephalogram to perform important research on the effects of the heart-lung machine on brain function during open-heart operations.



Feburary Image of the Month

Image of the Month

Somatosensory peripheral axons (magenta) and langerhans-like cells (green) in the epidermis of an adult zebrafish. 

Image by Jeff Rasmussen from the laboratory of Alvaro Sagasti.



Project Synapse Flyer


Recognizing high school students who have accomplished outstanding projects related to neuroscience

Lauren Yen (pictured left) won the Senior Division Senior Division for her project "Calcium content in neuron changes with light stimulation". Yen recorded action potentials and calcium changes from worm neurons measuring spiking activity as a function of delivery of different colors of light and intensity.

Junior Division winner Faatima Zahra Motala (pictured right) was recognized for her project "Joggin' your noggin: the effect of brain training applications on cognitive flexibility of participants who suffer from diminishing mental ability". Motala used the brain training application "Luminosity" to measure cognitive flexibility of participants 65 and older who suffered from cognitive impairments. She tracked patterns daily over the course of 3 weeks.

More information on BRI outreach activities at State and County Science Fairs here.


Introducing the BRI's New Member

"Engineering the neural microenvironment"

Stephanie Seidlits is a bioengineer researching at the intersection of engineering, neuroscience and medicine. She uses biomaterial microenvironments and advanced imaging tools to develop clinical therapies for disorders including spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and glioma formation. The long-term goal of this research is to translate biomaterial microenvironments into in vivo regenerative therapies, which do not exist at present. 
Seidlits’ recent article in Biomarkers Insights reviews of the current state of development of effective gene therapies in the spinal cord and discusses the potential of biomaterials to mediate gene delivery while providing inductive scaffolding to facilitate tissue regeneration.
Image: Transverse section of mouse spinal cord with a biomaterial substrate implanted at a dorsal injury site (4 weeks post-injury, neurofilament-200, immunofluorescence shown in red). Courtesy of Stephanie Seidlits.
More information about the Seidlits lab can be found here.

In the News Image

In the News

Untapped region in brain cell offers goldmine of drug targets for new autism treatments
Discovery could shed light on how genetic mutations lead to the disease

BRI members key in discovery that an overlooked region in brain cells houses a motherlode of mutated genes previously tied to autism. Recently published in Neuron, the finding could provide fresh drug targets and lead to new therapies for the disorder, which affects one in 68 children in the United States.

“Our discovery will shed new light on how genetic mutations lead to autism,” said principal investigator Dr. Kelsey Martin, interim dean and a professor of biological chemistry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “Before we can develop an effective therapy to target a gene, we must first understand how the gene operates in the cell.”

The UCLA team focused on a gene called Rbfox1, which regulates how the cell makes proteins — the molecular workhorses that perform essential tasks in cells. Proteins also help shape the body’s tissues and organs, like the brain.

“Identifying a gene’s function is critical for molecular medicine,” said coauthor Daniel Geschwind, the Gordon and Virginia MacDonald Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics and a professor of neurology and psychiatry at UCLA. “My colleagues discovered that Rbfox1 has an entirely new function that other scientists had overlooked.”

More on the study here.

Image: The gene Rbfox1 in a cell's cytoplasm. Courtesy of the Kelsey Martin lab.


The Neuroscience Interdepartmental Program


Graduate Program

Undergraduate Program

Upcoming Events


TUESDAY, MAY 31ST, 2016 AT 12:00 NOON

Speaker: AMITA SEHGAL, Ph.D., Professor
               John Herr Musser Professor of Neuroscience
               Investigator, HHMI
               Perelman School of Medicine
               University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 

Title:  "Unraveling the Mysteries of Sleep:  When, Why and How"

The focus will be on the mechanisms that drive the timing and the need to sleep.  The 24-hour rhythm of sleep is driven by a circadian clock, while the need to sleep comes from a homeostatic system, which ensures adequate sleep levels.  The lecture will show how the use of Drosophila has led to the identification of molecular mechanisms and circuits that underlie the circadian timing of behavior.  It will also address a function for sleep and describe efforts to elucidate the genetic basis of sleep homeostasis.

Host:  KELSEY MARTIN, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Biological Chemistry

Sponsored by: The Brain Research Institute, the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior

12:00pm  Neuroscience Research Building (NRB) Auditorium, UCLA

Light refreshments served 1/2 hour prior to start of lecture



Latest Newsletter