Posts Tagged ‘PhD’


Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

Composite image of neurons in the CA2 hippocampal region in the brain of a mouse (Credit: Felix Leroy and David H. Brann/Siegelbaum lab/Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute)

Columbia scientists have identified a brain region that helps tell an animal when to attack an intruder and when to accept it into its home. This brain area, called CA2, is part of the hippocampus, a larger brain structure known to be critical for our memory of people, places, things and events.  The research was published on Wednesday in Nature.

CA2 was already known to specialize in social memory, the ability to remember encounters with others. Surprisingly, the recent findings reveal that a single brain region can control both higher-order cognition, like social memory, and an innate, instinctual behavior like social aggression. Because CA2 dysfunction has been implicated in psychiatric diseases, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, these results provide further support that altered CA2 function may contribute to abnormal social behaviors associated with such illnesses.

“Humans and mice are social creatures. We both engage in learned and innate social interactions that sometimes foster cooperation, and other times drive competition for mates, food and dominance. How the brain mediates these conflicting impulses has been a puzzling question,” said the paper’s senior author, Steven A. Siegelbaum, PhD, the Chair of Neuroscience at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and principal investigator at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute.  “Today’s study in mice shows us that diminutive CA2, which is made up of just a few thousand cells, acts as a nexus of social behaviors, allowing memory to influence the decision to engage in social aggression,” he continued. (more…)


Monday, October 29th, 2018

To the great surprise of cancer researchers, a protein they investigated for its possible role in cancer turned out to be a powerful regulator of metabolism. The Georgetown University-led study found that forced expression of this protein in a laboratory strain of obese mice showed a remarkable reduction of their fat mass despite a genetic predisposition to eat all the time.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, suggests that the protein FGFBP3 (BP3 for short) might offer novel therapy to reverse disorders associated with metabolic syndrome, such as type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease.  Because BP3 is a natural protein and not an artificial drug, clinical trials of recombinant human BP3 could begin after a final round of preclinical studies, investigators say.

“We found that eight BP3 treatments over 18 days was enough to reduce the fat in obese mice by over a third,” says the study’s senior investigator, Anton Wellstein, MD, PhD, a professor of oncology and pharmacology at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. (more…)


Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

According to new studies released in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a clinical trial conducted by researchers at Tufts University in Boston revealed that adults who consumed a diet rich in whole grains rather than refined grains had modest improvements in healthy gut microbiota and certain immune responses.  The research was conducted in tandem with a study that looked at the effects of a whole-grain diet on energy metabolism, suggesting that substituting grains increases caloric loss by reducing calories retained during digestion and speeding up metabolism.

During an eight week period, 81 men and women between the ages of 40-65 were split into two groups.  For the first two weeks, both groups enjoyed comparable meals, based on total energy, fat, and number of fruit, vegetable, and protein servings, including only refined grains (such as white flour, white rice, and white bread).  Refined grains are starches that have been processed and broken down into a finer texture, primarily to increase shelf life.  By the third week, 41 participants switched from refined to whole grains (those which include the outer nutritious layer of grains, found in products such as whole-wheat flour, oatmeal and brown rice) for the remainder of the study. (more…)