BRAIN and BEHAVIOR INITIATIVE WEEKLY DIGEST

February 17, 2020


UMD News

In “Neuro Blooms,” running through March 28 at the Stamp Gallery, artist Leslie Holt uses PET scans—nuclear imaging tests that can detect diseases—of people with mental illnesses as inspiration for an artistic exploration that she hopes will reduce some of the fear or misunderstanding attached to them.

News

Previous research has suggested that specific components of brain activity, as measured by resting-state EEG, could yield insight into how people will respond to certain treatments for depression. However, researchers had yet to develop predictive models that can differentiate between response to antidepressant medication and response to placebo. Now, however, researchers have discovered a neural signature that predicts whether individuals with depression are likely to benefit from sertraline.
One major threat to honey bees is from a parasitic mite who feeds on their fat cells. While these parasites alone can harm or kill bees, the mites also pass on the deadly deformed wing virus (DWV). Researchers have previously tried engineering a bacterium found in the normal bee microbiome to boost bees' immune response to DWV, but this approach was overly expensive. Now, scientists have successfully reintroduced the engineered bacteria to bees through their food, while also showing that the technique could provoke an immune response in the bees.
Ethnologue’s hundreds of thousands of users can track how many people speak each of the world’s tongues, from Hebrew to Hausa to Hakka (9.3 million, 63.4 million, and 48.2 million, respectively). For linguists, it’s a resource of reference; for students, it’s a window into the diversity of human language. But for the computational linguist who has run Ethnologue for 20 years, it’s a growing heartache. To help cover its nearly $1M in annual operating costs, the site introduced its first paywall in late 2015.
Knowing the temperature of the brain is often essential for disease diagnosis, and heating specific areas can also be useful in treating the symptoms of neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease and chronic pain. However, existing techniques for measuring brain temperature are either not very sensitive or require direct contact with the brain. However, scientists have now developed a technique that uses thermosensitive nanoparticles to measure brain temperature through the skin and the skull.
Being born blind, and perhaps possessing specific types of congenital blindness, shields one from the disorders that vision loss can encourage later in life. A myriad of theories exist as to why—from the blind brain's neuroplasticity to how vision plays an important role in building our model of the world. Select researchers believe that the ties between vision and psychotic symptoms indicate that there are clues for what causes schizophrenia, how to predict who will develop it, and potentially how to treat it.
While memes are usually light-hearted, many social media sites and forums are increasingly playing host to communities that share so-called depressive memes— memes about death, suicide, isolation, or hopelessness. But how does depression influence the way people view these memes? Researchers have found that people with depression actually prefer memes that relate to their experiences of mental health. This might because because people with depression actually use humor in a different way altogether.
Once a vague scapegoat for a variety of ills, increasing evidence suggests a condition known as "leaky gut"—in which microbes and other molecules seep out of the intestines—may be more common, and more harmful, than previously thought. Yet there is not a great way for clinicians to tell who has leaky gut and who does not. Now, researchers are able to simulate leaky gut conditions for the first time, using 3D models of human intestines generated from patient cells. These small "mini-guts" have revealed new biomarkers that help define what a leaky gut looks like.
Researchers have identified  the specific mechanism in a crucial cortical circuit that involves a loss of control over food intake. They demonstrated that the activation of this circuit gives better control over reinforcement, while a decrease in the activity of the circuit leads to a loss of inhibitory control and greater susceptibility of the animal to developing addictive behavior. By showing that responses to food share some common features with drug addiction, the study strengthens the somewhat controversial contention that food addiction exists.
With high hopes, drugs to fight brain plaques were tested in people genetically destined to develop dementia. The studies aimed to show that Alzheimer’s disease could be stopped if treatment began before symptoms emerged. For five years, volunteers received monthly infusions of experimental drugs. But it appears that the drugs did nothing to slow or stop cognitive decline in these subjects. The results are a deep disappointment, but the problems may be fixable: perhaps the doses were too low or should have been given to patients much younger.

This Wednesday! NIH RePORTER Workshop

This workshop with Dr. Beth Brittan-Powell, the Director of Joint Research Collaborations, will show researchers and administrators alike how to use RePORTER as a tool to find POs, study sections, who applied to what FOA, and comparative costs.
 
In addition, BBI administration will be present to answer any queries about this year's Seed Grant Program RFP. Come with your project ideas or even your wish list for a collaboration.
 
Date: Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Time: 2:30 - 3:30 p.m
Location: 1105 Kim Engineering Building
Register here

This Week's Events

Business Skills for Scientists Workshop Series
Speaker: Alla McCoy (University of Maryland)
Title: "Startup Guide for Faculty/Researchers at UMD"
Date: Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Location: Diamondback Garage, Suite B
More info

Academic Career Panel, Dept. of Psychology
Speakers: Melissa Caras (University of Maryland), Linda Zou (University of Maryland), Alex Solway (University of Maryland), & Andrea Halpern (Bucknell University)
Date: Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Location: 1140B Biology-Psychology Building
More info

Developmental Science Colloquium
Speaker: Wade Jacobsen (University of Maryland)
Title: "Adolescent Arrest and Peer Relationships: Interpersonal Exclusion in Rural Schools"
Date: Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Time: 12:30 p.m.
Location: 1107 Benjamin Building
More info

NIH RePORTER Workshop + BBI Seed Grant Info Session
Speaker: Beth Brittan-Powell (University of Maryland)
Title: "Investigating NIH RePORTER"
Date: Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Time: 2:30 p.m.
Location: 1105 Kim Engineering Building
More info

NACS Seminar
Speaker: Alexandra Horowitz (Barnard College)
Title: "Seeing smells: Olfaction in domestic dog cognition research"
Date: Friday, February 21, 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 bbi.umd.edu/news/FOA.**
 
*New!* The NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences encourages submission of proposals to its core programs focused on IMAGiNE: Integrating Mechanisms of Adaptation with Genes in Networks and across Environments for integrated studies that will investigate how genomes, phenomes, and the environment interact to influence the development, expression and evolution of complex traits.
 
The NIH has issued Guidance on Salary Limitation for Grants and Cooperative Agreements FY 2020 (NOT-OD-20-065) that restricts the amount of direct salary to Executive Level II of the Federal Executive pay scale. Notice effective January 5, 2020.
 
*New!* This Request for Information (NOT-OD-20-064) invites comments and suggestions on a framework for the NIH-wide strategic plan for FYs 2021-2025. Responses due March 25, 2020
 
The NIMH invites R25 applications to its Short Courses for Mental Health Related Research program (PAR-20-096) supporting educational activities that complement and/or enhance the training of a workforce to meet the nation’s biomedical, behavioral and clinical research needs. Applications due May 26, 2020.
 
The NIGMS encourages grant applications for national Biomedical Technology Development and Dissemination (BTDD) Centers (PAR-20-104). The BTDD program supports the development of technologies once their feasibility has been established and the dissemination of these technologies to the wider biomedical research community. Applications due May 26, 2020.
 
The NIA invites U24 applications to its Resource Networks for Protein Polymorphisms in Alzheimer’s Disease and its Related Dementias (AD/ADRD) program (RFA-AG-21-012) to standardize and distribute seed, oligomers, and fibrils to other investigators in order to clarify and improve the reproducibility of experiments in AD/ADRD. Applications due June 17, 2020.
 
*New!* The NINDS solicits U54 proposals (RFA-NS-20-016) for the development and initial clinical validation of objective biological measures to be used for prognosing, and monitoring recovery of adolescents who either clinically present with or are at risk for developing prolonged/persistent concussive symptoms following exposure to repetitive head impacts and/or concussion.
 
**Webinars for open FOAs**

*New!* To assist potential applicants to PAR-20-101 Genomic Expert Curation Panels (U24 Clinical Trials No Allowed), NIH will hold a Pre-application Informational Webinar (NOT-HD-20-005) on February 20, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.
 
*New!* To assist potential applicants to RFA-AT-20-004: HEAL Initiative: Pragmatic and Implementation Studies for the Management of Pain to Reduce Opioid Prescribing (PRISM) (UG3/UH3, Clinical Trials Optional), NCCIH will host a pre-application technical assistance webinar on March 2, 2020 at 2:30 p.m.
 
*New!* This Notice is to inform potential applicants that the NCCIH, the NIA, and the NICHD will hold a pre-application technical assistance webinar (NOT-AD-20-008) on RFA-AT-20-003, "Emotional Well-Being: High-Priority Research Networks (U24, Clinical Trial Optional) on March 17, 2020 at 2:00 p.m.

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