2012 Emerging Scientists Symposium

Keynote speaker: Dr. Li-Huei Tsai, Director of the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT

Created to encourage young scientists and clinicians to study neurological disorders, ReMIND (Research and Education of Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders), hosted its 3rd Annual Emerging Scientists Symposium on February 9, 2012, drawing over 100

researchers from the UCI community.  Across the day-long event, 16 graduate and post-doctoral students presented a range of studies, including, but not limited to, molecular work on stem cell therapies to treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s, animal models demonstrating the ability of auditory stimulation to protect the brain from damage due to stroke, and research documenting the importance of physical performance for preserving memory in humans.

Dr. Frank LaFerla, director of UCI MIND and advisor for ReMIND, kicked off the day, followed by a series of five distinguished UCI MIND professors who chaired separate sets of presentations by the 16 young scientists.  Highlights included:

  • Dr. Tallie Z. Baram, one of the faculty chairs, emphasized the importance of promoting density of dendritic spines, where connections are made between brain cells, for memory preservation following neurodegeneration, noting that scientists could approach this problem in many different ways to develop creative solutions.
  • Dr. Karlie Intlekofer, a post-doctoral researcher working with Dr. Carl Cotman, demonstrated how a specific molecule, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), must be upregulated after exercise in order to improve memory.
  • Emily Vogler, a young researcher studying under Dr. Jorge Busciglio, described the importance of the metal ion zinc in excitatory synaptic transmission, that is, in helping brain cells talk to each other, and how this process is dysregulated in Alzheimer disease.
  • Dr. Li-Huei Tsai, Director of the MIT Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and a prestigious researcher in neurodegeneration, shared new data in a keynote presentation to wrap up the day.  Interestingly, her team has identified HDAC2, a molecule that regulates the expression of many different genes critical to learning and memory, as a possible common mechanism of neurodegeneration.
  • Dr. Karlie Intlekofer and Meredith Chabrier received awards for the best post-doctoral and graduate research presentations, respectively.  Additionally, Zahra Nematinejad was recognized as the most outstanding undergraduate poster presenter.

The symposium was a great opportunity to highlight the breadth of neurological research that is underway at UCI MIND and gave young scientists a chance to practice communicating their findings to a large audience.

Meredith Chabrier, Most Outstanding Presentation — Graduate Student Researcher

Dr. Karlie Intlekofer, Most Outstanding Presentation — Post-Doctoral Researcher