Departmental Seminars

Spring Semester 2023: 12:00 pm - 12:50 pm, RITA 154


1/20/2023: Serena-Kay Sims, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, College of Charleston

Intranasal Administration of BDNF Improves Cognitive Recovery and Promote Synaptic and Dendritic growth in a Neonatal Mouse Model of Hypoxic Ischemia

Neonatal stroke, or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) results in lifelong neurological disabilities. Neonatal stroke care is limited to supportive care, such as hypothermia. Administration of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) reduces cell death and infarct volume in preclinical stroke model in rats. Delivery of BDNF through the nasal cavity is attractive in that it is non-invasive and bypasses the blood brain barrier with minimal side effects. Our overall hypothesis was that intranasal BDNF would improve recovery following neonatal stroke in a neonatal postnatal day (PND) 7 hypoxic mouse model.


1/23/2023: Benjamin Zemel, Ph.D., Oregon Health & Science University

Identifying molecular correlates of action potential shapes and firing frequencies

The fundamental signaling unit of the nervous system, the action potential, is crucial for neuron-to-neuron communication. Voltage-gated ion channels are the molecular machines that enable production of the action potential. The shape and firing frequency of action potentials determine the degree of communication between neurons in the form of neurotransmitter release at the synapse. These properties enable sensory perception, motor behaviors and a host of other cognitive and somatic processes in vertebrates and invertebrates alike. Action potential properties vary widely across the nervous system and can display acute and chronic changes during different developmental stages and/or environmental exposures. Whereas voltage-gated ion channels were originally thought of as stand-alone, unmodifiable proteins, we increasingly see them as members of a diverse family of genes that display tissue specific expression, post-translational modifications (i.e. phosphorylation), and interactions with auxiliary subunits in macromolecular complexes. I am interested in investigating how auxiliary subunits and post-translational modifications modulate the activity of voltage-gated ion channels found in excitable tissues."


1/27/2023: Vincent van der Vinne, Ph.D., Washington College

Timing is everything!  Mechanisms of circadian disruption in mice

All organisms on Earth have evolved on our rhythmic planet and environmental changes between day and night are matched by our internal circadian clock system. Circadian clocks control daily rhythms in nearly all aspects of our physiology & behavior, and their disruption is associated with a range of adverse health outcomes. Living in our modern 24/7 society provides many benefits, but unfortunately, it also disrupts our circadian organization since environmental rhythms no longer match the environment we evolved in. My research aims to describe how circadian clocks in different parts of the body interact with each other during disruptions of the rhythmic environment. I have identified different aspects of circadian regulation that are changed in mice during simple environmental disruptions. Current and future studies in my lab use a range of genetic, molecular, physiological, imaging, and computational tools to test the contribution of these different component of disruption in driving (or reversing) the adverse health outcomes of circadian disruption.