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Xiaobing Zhang, an assistant professor with the FSU Program in Neuroscience and the Department of Psychology, has received a five-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, to study how certain neural circuits in the brain regulate eating behaviors.

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The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders (NIDDK) has awarded a $2.7 million, 4-year multi-PI award to Dr. Linda Rinaman (FSU Program in Neuroscience) and Dr. Pat Levitt (Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles) to study how early life adversity impacts vagal neuron gene expression and circuit connectivity in a developmental mouse model.

Congratulations to Caitlyn Edwards on receiving a $20,000 P.E.O. Scholar Award. Caitlyn, a graduate student in the Rinaman Lab, is studying the role of noradrenergic neurons in the nucleus of the solitary tract in conditioned avoidance behaviors in rodent models. The P.E.O. Scholar Awards Program was established in 1991 to provide substantial merit-based awards for women pursuing doctoral degrees in the U.S. and Canada.

The Program in Neuroscience is pleased to announce this year’s recipients of the Clara Kibler Davis Scholarship: Congratulations to Jennifer Cott (Schmidt lab) and Tyla Dolezel (Rinaman lab). This annual award honors two female undergraduate neuroscience majors who have been actively engaged in research during their senior year.

Jessica Moser, 2021 Goldwater Scholar

Behavioral Neuroscience undergraduate major, Jessica Moser, was selected as a 2021 Goldwater Scholar. The Goldwater Scholarship Foundation selects award recipients who have the potential to become tomorrow's research leaders, and provides up to $7,500 in support of the recipient's educational expenses. Working with her mentor, Dr. Doug Storace in the Biology department, Jessica has been conducting research examining the role of dopamine receptors in the olfactory bulb. Her long-term career goal is to obtain a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and conduct research on hydrocephalus to find a cure for the condition.

Getting lost, particularly in new surroundings, is an early symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, suggesting the disease is affecting the brain’s navigation and memory systems at this stage. A potential cause for failed Alzheimer’s treatments lies in the inherent difficulty in catching the disease before the brain has become very dysfunctional. This grant is focused on identifying early changes in the brain and the ability to navigate our surroundings. The hope is that looking earlier in the disease progression will yield new insight into approaches for detecting and treating Alzheimer’s disease. We are also looking at later timepoints since more is known about later brain changes in Alzheimer’s disease.

This 5-year research project will reveal the neural circuit connectivity and behavioral function of chemically-identified brainstem neurons that act to increase threat-induced emotional responses, akin to symptoms of anxiety in humans. The project uses a new transgenic rat model to target two specific groups of hindbrain neurons that express glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1) and project to the limbic forebrain. Given evidence that brainstem GLP1 neurons and limbic GLP1 receptors are similar in rats and humans, results from this basic science project have potential translational relevance for understanding the neurobiological bases of normal threat responses and pathological anxiety responses in humans.

Dr. Hull is recognized, being named a fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, for her research investigating the neuroendocrine control of male rat sexual behavior. Her studies have shown that dopamine is released in the medial preoptic area (MPOA) as soon as a male rat encounters a receptive female; release is further increased during copulation. Stimulation of dopamine receptors in the MPOA controls genital reflexes and sexual motivation. Glutamate is also released there and may control ejaculation. This brain area is essential for male sexual behavior in all vertebrate species that have been studied, from fish through humans.

The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, providing them with skills critical to our national security and economic prosperity. The program has been successful in supporting students who have been historically underrepresented in education abroad. This prestigious award will provide funding for Behavioral Neuroscience major Djaina-shae Dervil to expand her studies in Italy this summer.

Dr. Dewan and Dr. Storace, awarded grant from MMCO

Program in Neuroscience professors Adam Dewan and Douglas Storace received a $67,500 grant to study the influence of cannabinoid receptors on olfactory function. Cannabinoids play an important therapeutic role in the stimulation of appetite. One potential mechanism underlying these changes in food-seeking behavior is the modulation of sensory input. Cannabinoids have a profound effect on olfactory perception, yet the underlying neural mechanisms remain poorly understood. Our study uses a combination of functional imaging and behavioral assays to determine how cannabinoid receptor modulation alters olfactory sensory input and perception.

Dr. Debra Fadool, awarded grant from MMCO

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive component of cannabis that has been described for varied use such as anxiety, sleep disorder, depression, and pain - in both pets and humans. We are funded by the MMJ Consortium to use a new mouse model for anxiety and attention-like behavior deficit to uncover whether chronic CBD has potential therapeutic use to dampen or mitigate these behaviors when administered through multiple routes of delivery.

Dr. Roberto Vincis, awarded grant from MMCO

Dr. Roberto Vincis, Professor of Biological Sciences and Neuroscience, has been awarded a new grant from the Consortium for Medical Marijuana Clinical Outcomes. This $67,500 grant award will support Dr. Vincis’ ongoing studies on the neural basis of our ability to decide and plan eating behaviors and dietary choices. These studies aim to further understanding the role of the gustatory portion of the insular cortex, in processing sensory, affective, and cognitive dimensions associated with the experience of eating. To this end, Dr. Vincis’ group use a combination of experimental approaches including electrophysiology, optical imaging, behavioral training, and computational methods.

Dr. Marie Holt – R Jean Banister Prize Lecturer

Dr. Holt, a postdoctoral scholar working in Dr. Linda Rinaman’s lab, has been selected as the 2019 R Jean Banister Prize Lecturer by the Physiological Society in the United Kingdom. She will give an online lecture on November 17th at 10am EST. The lecture is aimed at a broad audience (from undergraduates to professors) with an interest in physiology and will focus on the role of brainstem GLP-1 neurons in the control of stress responses and feeding behaviour. To register for the talk, copy and paste the following link into your web browser: https://www.physoc.org/events/mind-affects-matter-brainstem-circuits-linking-stress-physiology-and-behaviour/

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New Graduate Students - Fall 2020

The Program in Neuroscience is pleased to welcome our new graduate students: Michelle Crawford (Kabbaj lab), Madelyn Ebersole (Storace lab), Vanessa Garza (Johnson lab), Alicia Gonzalez (Hammock lab), Dollie Jennings (Storace lab), Chloe Johnson (Dewan lab), Patience Moseley (J Fadool lab), Meaghan Navarrete (Zhou lab), Colton Remedies (Feng lab), Morgan Shakeshaft (Vincis lab), Ellie Williams (Dewan lab), Qiying Ye (Zhang lab), and Yicheng Zheng (Wilber lab).

Congratulations Summer 2020 Graduates

Congratulations to our Summer 2020 graduates: Meghan Donovan, “The gut-brain axis and behaviors in a socially monogamous rodent species”, Calyn Maske, “Impaired Satiation in Disordered Eating”, Kristin Schoepfer, “Hippocampal-prefrontal oscillatory signaling in the rat brain: sexual dimorphisms and effects of female estrous stage”, Caroline Strong, “Neural mechanisms of alcohol intake: ketamine as a potential treatment option”, Radhika Vaidyanathan, “Oxytocin receptor in sensori-motor circuits and its association with hypothalamus activity”.

Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience

Congratulations to our Cell and Molecular Neuroscience graduate, Romy Aiken, B.S. Romy was accepted as a post-baccalaureate research fellow at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience. After completing her fellowship, Romy will be applying to international doctoral training programs to pursue research in developmental neuroscience, neuroendocrinology, and circadian biology. We wish Romy well in her future studies!

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Dr. Debi Fadool, Distinguished Research Professor

April, 2020 - Dr. Debi Fadool, Professor of Biological Sciences and Neuroscience, has been selected for a 2019-20 Distinguished Research Professor award from the FSU Council on Research and Creativity. This professorship recognizes an established professor at FSU who has attained international visibility in their unique research endeavors. Dr. Fadool and her team were among the first in the chemosensory field to characterize the detrimental effects of obesity on olfactory structure and function.

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Dr. Diana Williams, FSU Teaching Award

April, 2020 - Dr. Diana Williams, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, is the recipient of a 2019-20 FSU Innovation in Teaching Award. This highly competitive $2,000 award program recognizes faculty who are outstanding in many aspects of teaching, including the use of innovative teaching methods.

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Dr. Kirill Korshunov, New PhD Graduate

April 2020 - Congratulations to Dr. Kirill Korshunov, recipient of the Ph.D. degree in Neuroscience. Dr. Korshunov completed his dissertation, titled "Biophysical properties of olfactory bulb dopamine neurons”, in Dr. Paul Trombley's lab.He is currently working as a postdoc with Drs. Johnson and Hyson at FSU.

Dr. Aaron Wilber, New Grant Award

April, 2020 – Dr. Aaron Wilber, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, has been awarded a new grant from the Florida Department of Health. This $250,000 grant award from the Ed and Ethel Moore Alzheimer's Disease Research Program will support Dr. Wilber’s ongoing studies of cortical-hippocampal interactions during sleep in an animal model of Alzheimer's disease. These studies aim to further our understanding of why Alzheimer's disease leads to difficulty navigating new surroundings, what brain changes may underlie getting lost, and treatment for reversing these behavioral deficits and brain dysfunction.

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Jessica Dixon, 2020 Goldwater Scholar

March, 2020 - Cell and Molecular Neuroscience undergraduate major, Jessica Dixon, was selected as a 2020 Goldwater Scholar. The Goldwater Scholarship Foundation selects award recipients who have the potential to become tomorrow's research leaders, and provides up to $7,500 in support of the recipient's educational expenses. Jessica has co-authored a paper from her research under the direction of graduate student Danielle Benthem in Dr. Aaron Wilber's lab, and will start her senior honor's thesis in the Wilber lab in fall, 2020. Her long-term goal is to pursue a career in translational research investigating movement disorders.

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2019-20 Clara Kibler Davis Awardees

March, 2020 - The Program in Neuroscience is pleased to announce that Romy Aiken and Brianna Carney are the recipients of the 2020 Clara Kibler Davis Scholarship. This annual award honor provides a $500 scholarship to two female undergraduate Neuroscience majors who have completed at least two semesters of research. Romy has been studying the neurobiology of social attachment in Dr. Liz Hammock's lab, and Brianna has been studying the homeostatic response to stress in Dr. Linda Rinaman's lab.