March 2, 2020

UMD News

In a new study, UMD School of Public Health professor Stephen B. Thomas found that that 57 percent of all next-of-kin in African-American families who were cold-called agreed to brain tissue donations on the spot, as opposed to 74.1 percent of their Caucasian counterparts.
With a new collaborative study out of UMD and Cornell University, researchers look to establish dosages for leisure time experiencing nature in order to improve mental health among the highly stressed college student population.


The NIH has launched a $1 million Technology Accelerator Challenge to spur the design and development of non-invasive, handheld, digital technologies to detect, diagnose, and guide therapies for diseases with high global and public health impact. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is cooperating with NIH to accelerate the transformation of design concepts into products on a rapid timeframe for low-resource settings.
Companies like Intel and NVIDIA are currently thriving on the computing needs of deep learning technology. While most of these companies are using “Von Neumann” architecture, neuromorphic companies are pioneering a new AI paradigm that accounts for time—i.e. for the concept of spiking and the use of memories in neural connections. In this Q&A, the COO of the BrainChip company discusses neuromorphic computing and its possible futures.
New research shows how a molecular “switch” wired into the biological clocks of extreme early risers leads them to operate on a daily cycle of about 20 hours instead of a full 24-hour cycle. These new atomic-level details may help to explain how more subtle clock variations predispose people to follow different sleep patterns, and they could lead to new treatments for resetting the clock in people who struggle with sleep disorders, jet lag, or night-shift work.
So far, scientists have used 3-D printing in medicine and dentistry to create dental implants, prosthetics, and models for surgeons to practice on before they make cuts on a patient. However, many researchers have moved beyond printing with plastics and metals to print with cells that then form living human tissues. Although no one has yet printed fully functional, transplantable human organs, scientists are getting closer, making pieces of tissue that can be used to test drugs.
Traditionally, empathy is assessed through the use of questionnaires and psychological assessments. However, researchers have recently found that it is possible to assess a person’s ability to feel empathy by studying their brain activity while they are resting rather than while they are engaged in specific tasks. These findings offer an alternative to people who may have difficulty filling out questionnaires, such as people with severe mental illness or autism.
Analyzing brainwaves has been possible for nearly a century, but neuroscientists are now widening their awareness of the wealth of information brainwaves can hold about who we are. This podcast episode interviews R. Douglas Fields, Chief of the Nervous System Development and Plasticity Section at NIH and adjunct professor in the NACS program at UMD, whose research focuses on brain development, neuron-glia interactions, and the cellular mechanisms of memory.

TODAY! – Seed Grant RFP deadline

The Brain and Behavior Initiative is seeking the next round of exciting proposals for collaborative research about behavior and the brain!
Over the last four years, BBI has awarded seed funding to 27 teams of innovative interdisciplinary researchers from nearly 30 departments, centers, and institutes across campus. These have been extremely successful: BBI's $1.75M investment has yielded $12.5M in funding from NIH, NSF, and AFOSR.
Brief Statement of Intent: March 2, 2020
Full Proposal Deadline: March 30, 2020
Please see this year's Frequently Asked Questions, or direct queries to

This Week's Events

Business Fundamentals for Scientists Series
Speaker: Lily Griner (University of Maryland)
Title: "Market Research Databases at UMD: How and Where"
Date: Monday, March 2, 2020
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Location: Diamondback Garage, Suite B
More info

CLIP Colloquium
Speaker: Han-Chin Shing (University of Maryland)
Title: "A Prioritization Model for Suicidality Risk Assessment"
Date: Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Location: 5105 Iribe Center
More info

Developmental Science Colloquium
Speaker: Mesmin Destin (Northwestern University)
Title: "Putting Context First to Effectively Support Student Identities"
Date: Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Time: 12:30 p.m.
Location: 1107 Benjamin Building
More info

Language Science Lunch Talk Series
Speaker: Jo Shoemaker & Erika Exton (University of Maryland)
Date: Thursday, March 5, 2020
Time: 12:30 p.m.
Location: 2130 H. J. Patterson Building
More info

Cognitive Science Colloquium
Speaker: Kristin Lagattuta (University of California, Davis)
Title: "Developing a Life History Theory of Mind: Awareness that the Mind Learns from the Past to Imagine the Future"
Date: Thursday, March 5, 2020
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Location: 1103 Bioscience Research Building
More info

NACS Seminar
Speaker: Lisa Cunningham (NIDCD)
Title: "Intercellular signaling between sensory receptor cells and specialized glia in the inner ear"
Date: Friday, March 6, 2020
Time: 10:15 a.m.
Location: 1103 Bioscience Research Building
More info

Funding Announcements

**Below is a list of recent funding announcements; a running compendium of open FOAs can be found at**
*New!* Over the past several years, the NIH Center for Scientific Review has heard consistent concerns about the complexity of review criteria and administrative load of peer review. To address these concerns, CSR has convened a working group of our advisory council, charged with recommending changes to research project grant review criteria that will improve review outcomes and reduce reviewer burden. We would like to hear your thoughts on the issue. How might review criteria be modified to obtain the best evaluations of scientific merit? 
While the primary resource for technical directions when completing an application is NIH’s How To Apply – Application Guide, researchers may further benefit from seeing well-written examples from top-scoring applications. NIAID recently added three new Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31) fellowship applications and summary statements.
The American Psychological Foundation invites applications to conduct Investigations of Serious Emotional Disturbance supporting early career psychologists conducting research in the area of early intervention and treatment for serious emotional disturbance in children. Applications due March 15, 2020
*New!* This Request for Information (NOT-OD-20-059) is intended to gather broad public input on important new directions for health-related behavioral and social science research (BSSR). Specifically, OBSSR requests your input on research directions that will support the achievement of the scientific priorities in the OBSSR Strategic Plan and that will advance or transform the broader health impact of BSSR. Responses due March 29, 2020.
The Templeton Foundation invites applications to its Academic Cross-Training Fellowship Program supporting recently tenured philosophers and theologians for up to 33 months of systematic and sustained courses of study in an empirical science such as physics, psychology, biology, genetics, cognitive science, neuroscience, or sociology. Letters of intent due May 1, 2020. Applications due July 13, 2020.
*New!* The NIH invites applications (RFA-AG-21-008) for the next 5-year cycle of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to include a sixth wave of data collection (Wave VI). Add Health is a nationally representative, longitudinal study of individuals primarily born from 1976 through 1982 who were first interviewed as adolescents in grades 7-12 (ages 12-19) in 1994-1995. Applications due May 18, 2020.
*New!* The NIA invites applications (RFA-AG-21-016) for 3-year planning projects for trials in either of two age ranges (25 to 49 or 50 and greater) to determine the effects of sustained (e.g. 5-year) caloric restriction and other interventions that modify the amount, timing, or composition of nutrient intake on risk factors for aging-related conditions and mechanisms that may influence health span and longevity. Applications due July 23, 2020.
*New!* The NIH solicits applications to develop standards that describe experimental protocols that are being conducted as part of the BRAIN Initiative (RFA-MH-20-128). The developed standard is expected to be broadly disseminated for use and widely available. Applications due September 3, 2020.

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