December 2, 2019


Scientists know that Down syndrome is caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21, but they haven’t yet understood how the extra chromosome causes many of the brain and health problems associated with Down syndrome. One idea is that alterations of overall protein levels in the brain may affect learning and memory. Now, researchers have used a mouse model of Down syndrome called Ts65Dn as well as brain tissue and cells from people with Down syndrome to begin to ascertain whether blocking a particular cellular pathway in brain cells improves learning and memory.
Scientists have determined that La Crosse virus (LACV), which can cause inflammation of the brain in children, affects brain cells differently depending on their developmental stage. After infecting cerebral organoids with LACV, the researchers observed that the virus was more likely to kill neurons and that the immune response to the virus was weaker in the organoids than in neural stem cells. The investigators then repeated the experiment, but this time treating the cerebral organoids after infecting them. The therapy successfully protected neurons from virus-induced death.
Publishing giant Elsevier has signed its first open-access deal with a U.S. institution, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The arrangement will allow CMU scholars to publish articles in any Elsevier journal on an immediately free-to-read basis. CMU researchers will also continue to have access to paywalled Elsevier articles, which previous contracts covered with subscription fees. CMU did not disclose the cost of the arrangement, which has been a sticking point in Elsevier’s open-access negotiations with other research institutions.
A lifelong swimmer leapt into deep water near his lakeside home and was horrified to find himself completely unable to swim. He had recently received an electronic brain implant to control tremors and other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and somehow the signals from the device had knocked out his ability to coordinate his arms and legs for swimming. He was one of nine patients, all good swimmers despite having Parkinson’s, who had the same strange, dangerous side effect from deep brain stimulators. When three of the patients turned off the stimulators, they could immediately swim again.
Giving a shot of ketamine to heavy drinkers after reactivating their drinking-related memories led to a rapid decrease in urges to drink and a prolonged decrease in alcohol intake over nine months, according to the study published in Nature Communications. The researchers were seeking to upend the maladaptive reward memories that are central to drug and alcohol addiction. They unexpectedly removed an anticipated reward—a pint of beer—and then prevented the restabilization and storage of the reward memory using ketamine. Researchers caution that further research is needed to optimize the treatment method and determine who it could benefit.
Fibromyalgia (FMS) is a chronic disorder marked by whole body aches and pains and extreme daytime fatigue. Symptoms can come and go, and they often worsen over time. Many people with FMS experience symptoms so severe that it interferes with their daily lives. Experts believe that FMS symptoms result from dysfunction of the central nervous system (CNS), but because the CNS is involved in seemingly endless processes in our bodies, fibromyalgia can feel and look different to everyone. This article presents the findings of a number of studies examining the causes of fibromyalgia as well as some suggestions for potential relief.

Calendar of Events

MPRC Seminar
Speaker: Jessica Fish (University of Maryland)
Title: "Sexual minority population health inequities across the life course: Where do we go from here?"
Date: Monday, December 2, 2019
Time: 12 noon
Location: 1101 Morrill Hall
NACS Seminar
Speaker: Bevil Conway (National Institutes of Health)
Title: "Color as a tool for understanding how brains/minds work"
Date: Friday, December 6, 2019
Time: 10:15 a.m.
Location: 1103 Bioscience Research Building
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Funding Announcements

Please visit for the complete list of open Funding Announcements.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (RFA-ES-20-002) encourages multidisciplinary projects to investigate the potential health risks of environmental exposures of concern to a community and to implement an environmental public health action plan based on research findings. Projects supported under this program are expected to employ community-engaged research methods to not only conduct research but also to seamlessly translate research findings into public health action. Letters of intent due December 21, 2019. Applications due January 21, 2020.
*New!* The NIMH Instrumentation Program (RFA-MH-20-555) encourages applications from NIH funded investigators to purchase or upgrade a single commercially available instrument or a group of components to create an instrument that is not commercially available. Examples of instruments that might be submitted under this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) include light microscopes, electron microscopes, spectrophotometers, and biomedical imagers. Letters of intent due January 10, 2020. Applications due February 10, 2020.
*New!* The NIMH Research Career Enhancement Award program (RFA-MH-20-420) invites applications from experienced investigators seeking to redirect or expand their research programs through the acquisition of new skills and knowledge in the area of autism services research for adults and transition-age youth, which is beyond and complementary to their current areas of expertise. Letters of intent due January 13, 2020. Applications due February 13, 2020.
*New!* The NIMH (RFA-MH-20-400) encourages studies that develop and test the effectiveness of strategies for implementation and sustainable delivery of evidence-based mental health treatments and services to improve mental health outcomes for underserved populations in under-resourced settings in the United States. Letters of intent due January 24, 2020. Applications due February 24, 2020. This FOA is published in parallel to a companion R34 RFA-MH-20-401 below.
*New!* The NIMH (RFA-MH-20-401) supports pilot work for subsequent studies testing the effectiveness of strategies to deliver evidence-based mental health services, treatment interventions, and/or preventive interventions in low-resource mental health specialty and non-specialty settings within the United States. Letters of intent due January 24, 2020. Applications due February 24, 2020.
*New!* The NIMH (RFA-MH-20-345) seeks applications to test the feasibility and safety of treatment protocols for rapid-acting interventions that have the potential to reduce severe suicide risk. Letters of intent due January 26, 2020. Applications due February 26, 2020.
*New!* The NIMH (RFA-MH-21-100) seeks applications for the systematic fine-mapping of genome-wide significant risk loci associated with serious mental illnesses through robust statistical genetic and functional genomic approaches. Letters of intent due January 28, 2020. Applications due February 28, 2020.
*New!* The NIH Office of Strategic Coordination (RFA-RM-20-005) supports projects that apply new or existing tools to monitor and/or manipulate the 4D nucleome in the context of human health and disease. Any human disease or biological process relevant to NIH’s mission may be proposed including environmental exposures (e.g. addictive substances, toxins, psychosocial stress), or studies across development or lifespan. Letters of intent due February 2, 2020. Applications due March 2, 2020.
*New!* The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new, and potentially transformative models for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduate education training. The NRT program seeks proposals that explore ways for graduate students in research-based master’s and doctoral degree programs to develop the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to pursue a range of STEM careers. Applications due February 6, 2020.
*New!* The NIH Office of Strategic Coordination (RFA-RM-20-004) solicits applications for research projects to generate reference datasets and to create navigable maps for the study of the spatial and temporal organization of the nucleus, using genomic and imaging data as well as newly developed visualization and integrative analysis tools. Letters of intent due February 17, 2020. Applications due March 17, 2020.

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