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INI Director's Report, Spring 2019

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Director’s Report, Spring 2019


Welcome new faculty

Joseph Glykys, MD, PhDJoseph Glykys, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology
PhD, Neuroscience, UCLA
Postdoctoral Research Fellow & Pediatrics Internship, Massachusetts General
Resident, Neurology Residency, Harvard U/Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals

The Glykys Lab focuses on understanding how the inhibitory system works at the cellular level with a special emphasis on how the dysfunction of the inhibitory system leads to seizures. One of the main problems in the treatment of seizures is the significant failure rate of anti-convulsive medication. Seizures and brain injury result in water and chloride accumulation in neurons. This increase in neuronal chloride concentration alters the inhibitory system and leads to a poor response to anti-convulsive medications. The long-term goal of our research is to enhance the inhibitory system to better treat seizures, especially neonatal seizures. Our research areas include: studying changes in neuronal chloride concentration and cellular volume during pathological conditions, neonatal seizures, epilepsy, and GABAA receptor physiology. We approach these scientific questions in the neocortex with electrophysiological and imaging techniques, specifically two-photon imaging.

Rainbo Hultman, PhDRainbo Hultman, Assistant Professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
PhD, Duke U
Postdoctoral Fellow, Duke U

A primary difficulty in developing therapeutics for brain disorders is that the underlying etiological mechanisms are not well understood. We have made recent breakthroughs in our understanding of the relationship between electrical activity in the brain and behavior, which is promising for shedding light on these mechanisms. The Hultman lab studies networks of electrical activity in the brain using pre-clinical rodent models of disease and is working to identify the cellular and molecular factors that contribute to the organization of such networks. Our overarching goal is to promote the development of precision medicine (i.e. therapeutics targeted to specific individuals) by identifying therapeutic targets that promote healthy brain electrical network activity. Two brain disorders of primary focus in the lab include migraine and major depressive disorder. By probing the underlying electrical networks of these disorders and identifying molecular drivers of such activity, we will be better positioned to develop more effective treatments for these debilitating disorders.

Daniel Summers, PhDDaniel Summers, Assistant Professor of Biology and Biochemistry
PhD, U of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Postdoctoral Fellow, Washington U, St. Louis

Neurons establish functional connections throughout the human body by projecting long structures called axons that can reach over a meter in length. Axons are highly susceptible to stress or injury such that axon degeneration is an early and prominent event in many neurological disorders. The Summers Lab investigates the biology of axons with a focus on proteostasis networks controlling axon integrity and vulnerability to pathological axon degeneration. The lab uses a combination of biochemistry, cell biology, and animal models to interrogate protein homeostasis pathways in the axon compartment. The primary goal of this research is to understand the cellular pathways responsible for axon survival and identify new therapeutic opportunities for intervention in neurodegenerative diseases.

Summer Scholars

Three University of Iowa undergraduates, Megan Hynd (Wessel Lab), Elizabeth Kruse (Dailey Lab), and Madison Merfeld (Wemmie Lab), have won the 2019 Iowa Neuroscience Institute Summer Scholar Awards. The INI Summer Scholar Program supports Iowa undergraduates planning to pursue research during the summer in the lab of an INI faculty member. As INI Summer Scholars, the students receive a stipend of $5,000 and have the opportunity to attend a summer undergraduate seminar series and a variety of informal events. The INI Summer Scholar application process is highly competitive, and Hynd, Kruse, and Merfeld stood out for the quality of their research plan, mentor endorsement, and academic performance

Neuromodulation Workshop Sept 13-14

We are hosting a neuromodulation workshop bringing together leaders in brain stimulation nationally and Iowa, coordinated by Kumar Narayanan and Jeremy Greenlee.  External speakers include Kareem Zaghloul, Kathleen Poston, Daniel Corcos, Kris Tjaden, Jim Cavanagh and Harrison Walker.  We are looking forward to a lively discussion on new technologies aimed at modulating neuronal circuits. 

Provost Investment Fund

The Neuroscience of Twice-Exceptionality research project has received a Provost Investment Fund award to develop a better understanding of the neural and genetic mechanisms underlying twice exceptionality. Until now, we have used a singular psychoeducational perspective to prove the concept in educational and clinical settings.  Using a multifocal approach that combines multiple disciplines including psychology, education, genetics, and neuroimaging will help us understand the paradox of twice-exceptionality.  Susan Assouline, director of the Belin-Blank Center, is leading the collaborative effort, which also includes Ted Abel, Jake Michaelson, Lane Strathearn, Thomas Nickl-Jockschat, & Bob McMurray. The Provost Investment Fund is a new initiative, which awards up to $300,000 over the course of three years to support and incentivize innovative, aspirational, and interdisciplinary academic initiatives.

Accelerator Grants

Three teams of researchers have won Accelerator Grants from the Iowa Neuroscience Institute (INI). These grants support high-impact neuroscience research in areas that are new or add value to existing research by branching in a new direction.

  • “Cognitive functions of the posterior cerebellum” John Freeman, Ph.D., professor, psychological & brain sciences; Krystal Parker, Ph.D., assistant professor, psychiatry

  • “Molecular alterations associated with synapse remodeling in Parkinson’s disease” Amy Lee, Ph.D., professor, molecular physiology & biophysics; Kumar Narayanan, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, neurology

  • “Personalized neuromodulation for treating post-surgical pain” Jatin G. Vaidya, Ph.D., assistant professor, psychiatry; Emine O. Bayman, Ph.D., associate professor, anesthesia and biostatistics


  • Ryan Boudreau NIH R01 “Regulation and role of the cardiac sodium channel Nav1.5 in heart failure”
  • Andrew Russo NIH R01 Renewal “Perivascular Mechanisms of CGRP-induced migraine symptoms”
  • Elizabeth Newell NIH K08, “Astrocyte-specific IL-1RI signaling effects following traumatic brain injury”
  • Stefan Strack, University of California-Davis Regents Award, “Generation and characterization of mouse models of Jordan’s Syndrome”
  • Toshihiro Kitamoto, Ryan LaLumiere, Victoria Muller Ewald, INI Barrier Buster Grants
  • Aislinn Williams, Catherine Marcinkiewcz, Ben Elser (Stevens Lab), Pappajohn Biomedical Institute Microfinance Grants

Neuroscience & Society: Mood Disorders and Creativity

Our second-annual Neuroscience & Society event will feature Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, Dalio Professor in Mood Disorders and Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She will present two lectures exploring creativity and the brain. Both are free and open to all.

Jamison is the author of the national best sellers An Unquiet Mind, Night Falls Fast, and Touched with Fire, and is the coauthor of the standard medical text on bipolar disorder, Manic-Depressive Illness: Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression. Dr. Jamison is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Society of Edinburgh and is a recipient of the Lewis Thomas Prize, the Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health from the National Academy of Medicine, and a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship.

Save the Date—INI @ SfN

Please plan to join us in Chicago for the annual Friends of Iowa party at Society for Neuroscience 2019

Tuesday, Oct. 22   ·   6:30 p.m.   ·   Adler Planetarium


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Tuesday, April 30, 2019