In the news / Brain

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From the movement of a finger to the creation of a memory, actions of the human body require the harmonious concert of protein interactions.

 
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A UArizona team of researchers, including Department of Psychology distinguished professor and BIO5 member Dr. John Allen, has found that a program focused on yogic breathing – a meditative practice that involves slow and fast patterns of breath – improved participants' ability to cope with stress better than a workshop that focused on cognitive approaches to stress.
 
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The Arizona Board of Regents today confirmed the appointments of five UArizona faculty members, including BIO5 members Drs. Roberta Diaz Brinton and Judith Brown, as Regents Professors. The title of 'Regents Professor' is reserved for full professors whose exceptional achievements merit national and international distinction.
 
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Dr. Martha Bhattacharya, a UArizona assistant professor of neuroscience and BIO5 member, discusses her research, her career, and her mentor-ship philosophies with the Daily Wildcat. Dr. Bhattacharya's lab recently linked a gene involved in neurodegeneration to the itch sensation that many mammals experience and has drawn interest from the agribusiness industry for her lab's discovery. In future studies, Dr. Bhattacharya hopes to characterize the role of this gene in our understanding of these itch-sensing pathways in adults.
 
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As we get older, we tend to forget things – where we left our keys, our neighbor’s name or the word for a common household item. While forgetfulness is a normal sign of age, declining memory function can accelerate and lead to irreversible brain damage.
 
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A UArizona study involving Dr. Meredith Hay, a Department of Physiology professor and BIO5 member, aims to start a comprehensive investigation of the effects of coronavirus on the brain. The UArizona Center for Innovation in Brain Science funded study, will follow subjects over several years to study changes as they age. The center's director and BIO5 member Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton looks forward to continuing to support these critical research endeavors as researchers work to understand the novel virus.
 
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Dr. Amelia Gallitano, an associate professor in the College of Medicine – Phoenix and BIO5 faculty member, has been included in the Phoenix Business Journal's list of "Outstanding Women in Business." The publication announced this year's Outstanding Women in Business, recognizing 25 women "whose efforts around the region have drawn notice from their peers." Dr. Gallitano studies how genetics and environmental stress affect the development of illnesses such as schizophrenia and mood disorders.
 
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UArizona Center for Integrative Medicine Research Director and BIO5 member Dr. Esther Sternberg writes about her tips for coping with the stresses and anxieties that come with living through a global pandemic. Chronic stress, which worsens the severity and frequency of viral infections, can be lowered by using various integrative and mind-body techniques; cultivate social support, eat healthy, move, get some sleep, keep a routine.
 
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New research led by researchers from the BIO5 Institute’s Center for Insect Science shows that crustaceans such as shrimps, lobsters, and crabs, have more in common with their insect relatives than previously thought when it comes to the structure of their brains. Both insects and crustaceans possess mushroom-shaped brain structures known in insects to be required for learning, memory and possibly negotiating complex, three-dimensional environments.
 
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A team of researchers, including UArizona Biomedical Engineering professor and BIO5 member Dr. Philipp Gutruf, have developed a device that could provide unique insight into the mechanisms of pain, depression, addiction and certain diseases. The ultra-small, wireless, battery-free device uses light to record individual neurons so neuroscientists can see how the brain is working.
 
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Early studies show that infection with Toxoplasma gondii may have unexpectedly protective effects in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Anita Koshy, UArizona associate professor of Neurology and BIO5 member, studies how the self-defense mechanisms the infection uses to survive in its host could one day be used to treat human illness.
 
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Dr. Gene Alexander, UArizona psychology professor and BIO5 member, discusses his findings about how exercise impacts brain functioning and health. Along with his colleagues, he has found that exercise has positive effects on the brain and cognitively challenging exercise may benefit the brain more than physical activity that makes fewer cognitive demands.
 
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The UArizona found itself at the center of many of the world's most captivating news stories in 2019. From its leadership role in capturing mankind's first image of a black hole to discovering a protein that prevents mosquitoes from hatching, opening the possibility of developing new drugs that could act as birth control for mosquito populations, UArizona led research generated international headlines this year.
 
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UArizona researcher and BIO5 associate director Dr. Michael Hammer spends every day in a lab studying the gene mutation behind the rare form of epilepsy that afflicted his late daughter Shay. Dr. Hammer studies different models with similar gene variants to understand the genetics and cell formations behind this mutation. His lab uses their findings to assess the effectiveness and reliability of different treatment options to help other children living with this disease.
 
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The fifteen-year old daughter of UArizona researcher and BIO5 associate director Dr. Michael Hammer, had a disability of unknown origin in which she presented with epileptic seizures. It’s been over a decade since Shay has passed and Dr. Hammer spends every day in a lab at the University of Arizona studying the inner workings of the brain, trying to solve the mystery of her illness.
 
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Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton, the director of the UA Center for Innovation in Brain Science whose work, alongside many other researchers, shows an association between menopause and an earlier emergence of Alzheimer’s in the female brain compared with the male brain.
 
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With the support of a new $3.8 million grant from the National Institute on Aging, a team of researchers, led by UA Department of Psychology professor and BIO5 member Dr. Gene Alexander, will investigate whether near-infrared light could help enhance cognition and reduce Alzheimer's disease risk in older adults. Dr. Ted Trouard, a BIO5 member and UA Biomedical Engineering professor, will serve as a co-investigator on the project.
 
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A team led by The BIO5 Institute's Roberta Diaz Brinton, PhD, director of the Center for Innovation in Brain Science, received the multi-million dollar grant from the National Institute on Aging. The five-year grant will fund a national multi-site Phase 2 clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of allopregnanalone, or allo, as a treatment for individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s who carry the genetic risk factor for the disease. This award supports the goals of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act.