Christiane Healey Selected as ADVANCE Fellow and STRIDE Fellow

Christiane Healey has been selected as an ADVANCE fellow and as a STRIDE fellow for this upcoming year.

Read more about each of these fellowships HERE and HERE.

Margaret Riley Receives 2021 Mahoney Life Sciences Prize

Margaret “Peg” Riley has been awarded the Mahoney Life Sciences Prize for her pathbreaking research into bacteriocin-based antimicrobials, or drugs that are both effective against drug-resistant microbes and result in fewer side effects.

Read more HERE.

Downes and Pak Win 2021 Armstrong Fund for Science Award

The Armstrong Fund for Science at UMass Amherst has announced that its 2021 award will go to Gerald Downes, biology, and ChangHui Pak, biochemistry and molecular biology, for their collaborative project that seeks to better understand how mutation of a gene known as TBCK disrupts brain development. Mutations in the TBCK gene cause a rare, severe, poorly understood neurological disease called TBCK Syndrome. Downes and Pak will receive a two-year, $40,000 grant to support preliminary investigations in preparation for a full-blown research effort.

Read more HERE.

Fenelon's Team and New Amygdala Findings

Assistant Professor of Biology, Karine Fenelon, and her team, work on pre-attentive neuronal mechanisms, using mice. These mechanisms are essential for effective brain function, as impairments lead to cognitive overload and deficits in attention.

Last month, the team showed how the amygdala, a brain region typically associated with fear, greatly contributes to such pre-attentive mechanisms, by activating small inhibitory neurons in the brainstem.

Karine's team are the first to show the key role of these small inhibitory neurons in pre-attentive mechanisms, and their research was published in the BMC Biology journal. Deficits in pre-attentive mechanisms are a hallmark of schizophrenia but are also seen in other neuropsychiatric disorders.

Currently, the reversal of pre-attentive deficits in animal models is a gold standard for antipsychotic drug screening.

Karine's team is excited to report that their next step is to attempt to reverse pre-attentive deficits in a world renown mouse model of schizophrenia. They received these mice at UMass last month, from Karine's former postdoc mentor at Columbia University (New York).

Read more about their work HERE.

Hazen Garners NSF Grant

Sam Hazen was awarded a $812k National Science Foundation grant to study how the daily cycles of light and temperature influence the timing of plant growth.

Read more about Prof Hazen's research HERE.