The clinical picture of Alzheimer’s is a slowly progressive downhill course of increasing depth and breadth of cognitive failure. Neuropathologically this is paralleled by increasing tangles and neuronal loss in a hierarchical distribution in the limbic and, later, association areas. We have recently proposed a “spreading” hypothesis of tangles to account for the slow elaboration of tangle pathology across the brain, and have developed in vitro and in vivo models to explore this biology
Dr. Bradley Hyman is the Director of the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at MGH and the John B. Penney, Jr. Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. He also directs the Alzheimer’s Laboratory unit at Mass General Institute for Neurological Disease, with the goal of understanding the neuropathophysiologic and genetic factors that underlie dementia. Dr. Hyman is author of over 600 papers.
Dr. Hyman received his M.D. and Ph.D. from University of Iowa, and he has received the Metropolitan Life Award, the Potamkin Prize, an NIH Merit award, and an Alzheimer’s Association Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.
43 Vassar Street Room 46-3002, Cambridge, MA 02139
The Datta lab studies how information from the outside world is detected, encoded in the brain, and transformed into meaningful behavioral outputs. We address this fundamental problem by characterizing the olfactory system, the sensory system used by most animals to interact with their environment. Here we discuss recent results relevant to understanding sensorimotor coupling in the olfactory system. We first describe a novel molecular mechanism that underlies odor perception; this mechanism defines a new mode of sensory encoding in mammals, and is likely relevant to odor perception across deuterostomal lineages, including humans. We also describe new approaches we have recently developed to understand how genes and circuits important to sensorimotor coupling in the olfactory system might impact behavior; these methods may afford insight into mechanisms that allow animals to flexibly navigate the outside world, and serve as a quantitative prism through which the function of genes and neural circuits can be understood.
Sandeep Robert Datta obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics from Yale University in 1993, and obtained an M.D./Ph.D degree from Harvard University in 2004. After working as a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University with the Nobel laureate Richard Axel, he joined the Harvard Medical School Department of Neurobiology in 2009.
His lab focuses on understanding how sensory cues — particularly odors — are detected by the nervous system, and how the brain transforms information about the presence of salient sensory cues into patterns of motivated action. This work involves studying genes involved in detecting odors, revealing the patterns of neural activity deep in the brain that encode sensory maps of the outside world, and probing the fundamental statistical structure of behavior itself. Dr. Datta has published numerous articles on his research in journals including Cell, Science and Nature, is a reviewer and an editor at multiple scientific journals, and is a Principal Investigator in the Italian Institute of Technology/Harvard Medical School joint program in the neurosciences. Dr. Datta has received the prestigious NIH New Innovator Award, the Burroughs Welcome Career Award in the Medical Sciences, the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, the Searle Scholars Award, the Vallee Young Investigator Award, the McKnight Endowment Fund Scholar Award and has been named a fellow of the National Academy of Science/Kavli Scholars program.
This workshop is suitable for postdocs and graduate students who would like to learn annotation of genomic variants using ANNOVAR software suite, one of the most widely used whole genome annotation tools (cited in over 2200 publications). Some knowledge in this field is required to participate in this workshop. The workshop will consist of a lecture followed by demo demonstrations to cover the following topics:
Clinical diagnostics using whole genome sequencing and exome sequencing;
Overview of ANNOVAR for functional annotation of genomic variants;
Deme of ANNOVAR scripts;
Additional notes for genomic variant calling and annotation.
Please note that the workshop will last for 1 hour, and all the participants are recommended to bring their own laptop computers for hands-on practice. Refreshment will be provided.
Fan Gao, Ph.D., The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT
Fan is a staff bioinformatician with PILM. Before moving to MIT, Fan was working as a research associate at University of Southern California, with a joint appointment at Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute and Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research.
In Brad Dickerson’s Neuroimaging Laboratory, we seek to understand the relationships between brain anatomy, physiology, and behavior in humans across the lifespan and in those with neurodegenerative diseases. We focus on memory and Alzheimer’s disease. In our research on the anatomy and physiology of memory, we study brain structure and function using magnetic resonance imaging (structural and functional MRI), and try to understand the roles of various brain regions in normal human memory. Studies of aging include individuals in their ’40s and ’50s, as well as those in the 60-100+ age range, and seek to identify age-related changes in brain structure and function that relate to memory and cognitive task performance. In our research on Alzheimer’s disease, we use MRI to investigate the locations and degrees to which brain regions are affected by the disease, and how these changes relate to clinical symptoms and difficulties with the performance of cognitive tasks.
Recently, we have begun using MRI methods of “ultra” high resolution to study brain structure and function at an unprecedented level of detail.
A special focus of our research is on mild cognitive impairment (MCI), in which individuals demonstrate subtle memory loss that may be the earliest symptom of Alzheimer’s disease but which is often difficult to distinguish from the aging process itself.
Dr. Giocomo’s lab is interested in understanding how ion channels control neural coding and behavior. Throughout the nervous system, neural inputs and outputs are shaped, tuned and integrated by highly diversified sets of ion channels. Remarkably, how single-cell biophysics, determined by ion channels, control neural coding and how these cod
es translate into accurate behavior remain central mysteries of neural processing. Many of the advances in addressing these questions have come from work in sensory systems, where researchers have illuminated how sensory stimuli are coded in the cortex and identified as a particular sound, sight or smell. The complexity inherent to more cognitive processes however, has made deducing the neural codes and computations underlying psychological phenomena, such as thought or recollection, a daunting prospect. It is the Giocomo lab’s goal to shed new light on this topic and extract general coding principles of high-order cortical circuits. To achieve this goal, they take advantage of the simplicity of spatial coding by non-sensory medial entorhinal cortex neurons and the discovery of an ion channel that directly maps to specific features of functionally-defined medial entorhinal neurons. Their previous work demonstrated that spatially selective medial entorhinal neurons use ion channel kinetics for spatial scaling, giving my lab unprecedented access to a system ideal for studying the connections between ion channel substrates, coding and behavior. By using an interdisciplinary approach, they hope to reveal the fundamental coding algorithms of a high-order cortical region crucial for spatial coding and elucidate how these computational codes impact the cognitive process of self-localization.
Dr. Purdon’s research integrates neuroimaging, biomedical signal processing, and the systems neuroscience of general anesthesia and sedation.
His group conducts human studies of anesthesia-induced unconsciousness, using a variety of techniques including multimodal neuroimaging, high-density EEG, and invasive neurophysiological recordings used to diagnose medically refractory epilepsy. They also develop novel methods in neuroimaging and biomedical signal processing to support these studies, as well as methods for monitoring level of consciousness under general anesthesia using EEG.