Yerkes researchers present at 39th Annual Society for Neuroscience Conference

Neuroscience researchers from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, will present a wide range of research topics at the Society for Neuroscience’s 39th annual meeting in Chicago, Oct. 17-21, 2009. The information below is a representation of the neuroscience research Yerkes scientists will be discussing. To learn more about ongoing research and scientific resources available at the Yerkes Research Center and the other seven national primate research centers, please visit exhibit booth 2153.

Stuart Zola, PhD, Director, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, and one of the nation’s leading neuroscientists, will moderate the Dialogues between Neuroscience and Society series Saturday, Oct. 17, 11 a.m. — 1 p.m. This series offers thought-provoking perspective on issues of interest and/or concern to neuroscientists by engaging with leaders from other fields of study.

Todd Preuss, PhD, researches the evolutionary specializations of the human brain by comparing humans to chimpanzees and to other nonhuman primates. The goal is to understand the extent to which evolutionary expansion of the human brain was accompanied by the addition of new areas or by the enlargement and internal reorganization of existing areas. Preuss will participate in a news conference entitled “Evolution of Brain and Behavior” Sunday, Oct. 18 at 12:30 p.m. Preuss will also present a poster presentation Tuesday, Oct. 20, 3 p.m. — 4 p.m.

The Yerkes Research Center is sponsoring the Meet the Expert session on imaging that will feature John Gabrielli of MIT, one of Yerkes’ Scientific Advisory Board members. This session is Saturday, October 17, 9:30 a.m. — 10:45 a.m.

Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease and Other Neurodegenerative Diseases

Lary Walker, PhD, studies Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and trauma, the aging process and prion diseases. Walker’s current research focuses on the protein structure and chemistry of Alzheimer’s disease as well as the disease pathogenesis. He is also studying amyloid deposits in Alzheimer’s affected brains and evaluating the efficacy and side effects of therapeutic immunizations. Walker lab poster presentation: Rebecca Rosen, PhD, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2 p.m. ? 3 p.m.

Stella Papa, PhD, researches the areas of pathophysiology and therapeutics of neurodegenerative disorders focusing on Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. Papa lab poster presentation:
S. Uthayathas, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 9 a.m. ? 10 a.m.

Yoland Smith, PhD, researches the neurochemical changes that mediate cell death and abnormal motor behaviors in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s chorea. Smith will present a poster Tuesday, Oct. 20, 11 a.m. ? noon.

Thomas Wichmann, MD, who collaborates with Smith, researches the pathophysiology of movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease. His research focuses on evaluating the role of abnormal nerve cell activity in the basal ganglia in the development of Parkinsonian motor signs. The goal of his work is to gain a better understanding of the chemical and electrophysiologic changes that cause Parkinson’s that can then be translated into new and more effective therapies. Smith and Wichmann lab poster presentations are scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 21: J.G. Masilamoni, 1 p.m. ? 2 p.m.; Abraham Mathai, 2 p.m. ? 3 p.m.; Jean-Francois Pare, 3 p.m. ? 4 p.m.; Kalynda Gonzales, 4 p.m. ? 5 p.m.; and Rosa Villalba PhD, 4 p.m. ? 5 p.m.

Memory

Yerkes Director Dr. Zola researches the brain structures important for memory and seeks to determine how these structures separately and in combination contribute to memory function. His lab also studies emotional behavior and its link to memory function in humans and animals. Zola will present a poster Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2 p.m. ? 3 p.m.

Jocelyne Bachevalier, PhD, studies infantile amnesia, the inability to remember virtually anything from infancy. The primary goal of her research program is to determine the structural or functional immaturity responsible for infantile amnesia. Her lab also studies the nature of the memory decline in monkeys, which accompanies normal aging, to help explain aging-related memory disorders. Bachevalier lab poster presentations: Jessica Raper, Saturday, Oct. 17, 1 p.m. ? 2 p.m.; Alyson Zeamer, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2 p.m. ? 3 p.m.; Shala Blue, Saturday, Oct. 17, 3 p.m. ? 4 p.m.; and Laetitia Cirilli, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 11 a.m. ? noon.

Elizabeth A. Buffalo, PhD, researches the neuronal mechanisms involved in the establishment and maintenance of memory. Through her research, she records neural activity in monkeys that have been trained to perform various types of memory tasks and investigates how changes in neuronal activity correlate with each monkey’s ability to learn and remember in order to better understand how medial temporal lobe circuits support memory formation. Such understanding has the potential to make way for new therapies aimed at reducing or preventing memory loss that results from medial temporal lobe disease. Buffalo lab poster presentation: Megan Tompkins, Saturday, Oct. 18, 2 p.m. ? 3 p.m.

Addiction

Michael J. Kuhar, PhD, chair of Yerkes’ Division of Neuroscience, studies drug addiction and the role of CART peptides in the abuse of cocaine and other psycho-stimulate drugs. Kuhar’s ongoing research includes examining the biochemical and physiological mechanisms involved in drug abuse in order to develop potential medications and treatments for drug abusers. Kuhar lab poster presentations:
G. Desbordes, Saturday, Oct. 17, 3 p.m. ? 4pm.; George Rogge, Sunday, Oct. 18, 3 p.m. ? 4pm.; Doug Jones, PhD, Sunday, Oct. 18, 4 p.m. ? 5pm.; Yiming Lin, PhD, Monday, Oct. 19, 3 p.m. ? 4 p.m.; and George Hubert, PhD, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 8 a.m. ? 9 a.m.

Fear, Anxiety and Stress

Michael Davis, PhD, researches the physiological bases of learning and memory and brain areas involved in fear, anxiety and stress. Davis lab poster presentations are scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 21: Leigh Miles, 1 p.m. ? 2 p.m.; Ryan Parsons, 3 p.m. ? 4 p.m.; D.L. Walker, 4 p.m. ? 5 p.m.; and Kelly Sink, 4 p.m. ? 5 p.m.

E. Christopher Muly, MD, PhD, researches how various forms of experience alter the structural organization of nerve cell communication to understand how experience and drugs mediate alterations in brain functioning relevant to a wide variety of neuropsychiatric disorders, including post traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia. Muly lab poster presentation: S.V. Kusnoor, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 11 a.m. ? noon.

Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD, studies the biological mechanisms that cause fear. Ressler focuses on post traumatic stress disorder, a condition that causes chronic anxiety and traumatic flashbacks, and the genetic and neurobiological keys to preventing and treating the disease. Ressler lab poster presentations are scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 18: Aaron Jasnow, 9 a.m. ? 10 a.m.; Georgette Gafford, 11 a.m. ? noon; Kimberly Maguschak, 3 p.m. ? 4 p.m.; and Scott Heldt, 4 p.m. ? 5 p.m.

Mar Sanchez, PhD, studies neurobiological systems that control stress physiology and emotion regulation in nonhuman primates, particularly the developmental effects of early adverse experiences on stress neuroendocrine systems, emotion regulation and related neurobiological substrates of primates. Sanchez will present a poster Monday, Oct. 19, 1 p.m. ? 2 p.m. Sanchez lab poster presentation: Brittany Powell, Sunday, Oct. 18, 9 a.m. ? 10 a.m.

Sex and the Brain

Larry Young, PhD, researches the molecular-, cellular- and systems-level mechanisms underlying social behaviors, specifically monogamy and partner bonding. Young’s research focuses on the roles of oxytocin and vasopressin in a variety of social behaviors in order to better understand the relationship between genes, the brain and behavior. Young lab poster presentations: Sara Freeman, Monday, Oct. 19, 1 p.m. ? 2 p.m.; and Todd Ahern, Monday, Oct. 19, 4 p.m. ? 5 p.m.

Imaging

Graduate student Eric Hecht will present a poster on imaging Sunday, Oct. 18, 9 a.m. ? 10 a.m. Hecht works in the labs of Dr. Preuss and Jim Rilling, PhD.

For nearly eight decades, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, has been dedicated to conducting essential basic science and translational research to advance scientific understanding and to improve the health and well-being of humans and nonhuman primates. Today, the center, as one of only eight National-Institutes of Health-funded national primate research centers, provides leadership, training and resources to foster scientific creativity, collaboration and discoveries. Yerkes-based research is grounded in scientific integrity, expert knowledge, respect for colleagues, an open exchange of ideas and compassionate quality animal care.

Within the fields of neuroscience and infectious diseases, the center’s research programs are seeking ways to: develop vaccines for infectious and noninfectious diseases, such as AIDS and Alzheimer’s disease; treat cocaine addiction; interpret brain activity through imaging; increase understanding of progressive illnesses, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s; unlock the secrets of memory; determine behavioral effects of hormone replacement therapy; and advance knowledge about the links between biology and behavior.

The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include the Emory University School of Medicine, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and Rollins School of Public Health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. Emory Healthcare includes: The Emory Clinic, Emory-Children’s Center, Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Wesley Woods Center, Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital, the jointly owned Emory-Adventist Hospital, and EHCA, a limited liability company created with Hospital Corporation of America. EHCA includes two joint venture hospitals, Emory Eastside Medical Center and Emory Johns Creek Hospital. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.3 billion budget, 18,000 employees, 2,500 full-time and 1,500 affiliated faculty, 4,300 students and trainees, and a $5.5 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

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