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Michael Telias receives RPB Career Development Award to support eye research

December 8, 2022

Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) is pleased to announce that Michael Telias, PhD, of the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry has been granted a $350,000 RPB Career Development Award to support eye research. The support is provided over a four-year period.

The RPB Career Development Award was established in 1990 to attract early-career physicians and basic scientists to eye research. To date, the program has given awards to 238 vision research scientists in departments of ophthalmology at universities across the country.

Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has channeled more than $403 million into eye research. As a result, RPB has been identified with nearly every major breakthrough in vision research in that time. Visit the RPB website for information on RPB’s grants program, listings of RPB institutional and individual grantees, and findings generated by these awards.

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Researchers reveal how trauma changes the brain

December 7, 2022

Exposure to trauma can be life-changing – and researchers are learning more about how traumatic events may physically change our brains. But these changes are not happening because of physical injury, rather our brain appears to rewire itself after these experiences. Understanding the mechanisms involved in these changes and how the brain learns about an environment and predicts threats and safety is a focus of the ZVR Lab at the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester, which is led by assistant professor Benjamin Suarez- Jimenez, Ph.D.

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Rochester faculty garner recognition for professional accomplishments

December 1, 2022

Join us in celebrating the scholarly and service contributions of our faculty to their fields.

Krystel Huxlin, the James V. Aquavella, MD Professor and director of research for the department of ophthalmology, was selected as a fellow for her innovative approaches to visual restoration, encompassing optics, ocular biology, laser tissue-interaction, and visual behavior. Optica (formerly OSA) is dedicated to promoting the generation, application, and dissemination of knowledge in optics and photonics worldwide. Huxlin is among 109 members from 24 countries elected to the society’s 2023 fellow class.

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Krystel Huxlin announced as 2023 Optica Fellow

November 8, 2022

From Optica

The Board of Directors of Optica (formerly OSA), Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, recently elected 109 members from 24 countries to the Society’s 2023 Fellow Class. Optica Fellows are selected based on several factors, including outstanding contributions to business, education, research, engineering, and service to Optica and our community.

Krystel R. Huxlin, Ph.D., University of Rochester, Flaum Eye Institute, USA was cited for "innovative approaches to visual restoration, encompassing optics, ocular biology, laser tissue-interaction, and visual behavior."

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New CVS Director Susana Marcos, PhD, keeps the world’s spotlight for optics and vision research shining on the University of Rochester

November 7, 2022

From Flaum Eye Institute Newsletter

On July 1, 2021, acclaimed optics and vision researcher Susana Marcos, PhD, became the inaugural David R. Williams Director of the Center for Visual Sciences (CVS) as well as the Nicholas George Professor of Optics at the University of Rochester. She also holds a joint appointment as professor of ophthalmology at the Flaum Eye Institute.

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A serendipitous discovery and the choreographed dance of fragile X research

October 18, 2022

The choreography of development is a delicate dance. Beginning in utero, chromosomes, DNA, genes and RNA twirl, tap, and sashay their way in a precise pattern. A misstep or a missing step that changes the routine causes body and brain functions to go awry – as is the case with many intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Fragile X syndrome is the most common known single-gene cause of inherited IDDs, including autism. Scientists know the misstep in this syndrome is in the gene FMR1. FMR1 is responsible for making the protein FMRP, which is necessary for typical brain development.

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Student Spotlight: MaKenna Cealie

October 18, 2022

MaKenna Cealie is a fourth year in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD). Cealie graduated from Colgate University with a B.A. in Neuroscience and a minor in Anthropology. Cealie is currently working in the lab of Ania Majewska, Ph.D., where her research takes a cellular approach to understanding the affected mechanisms of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

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Seed funding reflects how data science, AR/VR transform research at Rochester

October 17, 2022

Ten projects supported with seed funding from the Goergen Institute for Data Science this year demonstrate how machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) are transforming the way University of Rochester researchers—across all disciplines—address challenging problems.

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The prose of Dr. Seuss shines a light on how the brain processes speech

September 21, 2022

Researchers at the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience have expanded the understanding of how the brain is engaged during complex audiovisual speech perception.

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CAREER awards recognize role models in research, education

August 31, 2022

Six Rochester researchers, including CVS members Ralf Haefner and Ross Maddox, have received prestigious NSF awards for early-career faculty members.

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How do we hear one voice among many?

August 29, 2022

The ability of humans to listen and converse in noisy places like bustling city streets or crowded bars is remarkable but also mysterious. It is known, for example, that when sound waves are converted in the inner ear into electrical signals, those signals are conveyed and processed along an auditory brainstem that leads to the brain’s cortex, where auditory perception occurs.

But scientists are still trying to understand how the signal processing along this intermediate “beautiful, but complicated network of connections” helps us focus our listening, says Ross Maddox, a University of Rochester biomedical engineer and neuroscientist.

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Postdoctoral Spotlight: Aaron Nidiffer, Ph.D.

July 20, 2022

Aaron Nidiffer, Ph.D., a postdoctoral associate in the lab of Edmund Lalor, Ph.D., received his doctoral degree in Hearing and Speech Sciences from Vanderbilt University. His research focuses on how the brain interprets visual speech and simultaneously processes two different types of information conveyed by the lips – timing and shape.

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The brains of children with autism may not always ‘see’ body language

July 18, 2022

Noticing and understanding what it means when a person leans into a conversation or takes a step back and crosses their arms is a vital part of human communication. Researchers at the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester have found that children with autism spectrum disorder may not always process body movements effectively, especially if they are distracted by something else.

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Sensory processing—in a virtual Kodak Hall

June 21, 2022

A cross-disciplinary team of researchers from the University of Rochester is collaborating on a project to use virtual reality (VR) to study how humans combine and process light and sound. The first project will be a study of multisensory integration in autism, motivated by prior work showing that children with autism have atypical multisensory processing.

The project was initially conceived by Shui’er Han, a postdoctoral research associate, and Victoire Alleluia Shenge ’19, ’20 (T5), a lab manager, in the lab of Duje Tadin, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences.

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Majewska honored by NINDS for exceptional mentorship

June 21, 2022

Ania Majewska, Ph.D., has been named a 2022 Landis Award for Outstanding Mentorship awardee by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) for her dedication to superior mentorship and training in neuroscience research. Majewska is a professor of Neuroscience and principal investigator of the Majewska Lab at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

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Walking gives the brain a ‘step-up’ in function for some

June 17, 2022

It has long been thought that when walking is combined with a task – both suffer. Researchers at the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester found that this is not always the case. Some young and healthy people improve performance on cognitive tasks while walking by changing the use of neural resources. However, this does not necessarily mean you should work on a big assignment while walking off that cake from the night before.

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How the brain interprets motion while in motion

June 13, 2022

Imagine you’re sitting on a train. You look out the window and see another train on an adjacent track that appears to be moving. But, has your train stopped while the other train is moving, or are you moving while the other train is stopped?

The same sensory experience—viewing a train—can yield two very different perceptions, leading you to feel either a sensation of yourself in motion or a sensation of being stationary while an object moves around you.

Human brains are constantly faced with such ambiguous sensory inputs. In order to resolve the ambiguity and correctly perceive the world, our brains employ a process known as causal inference.

Causal inference is a key to learning, reasoning, and decision making, but researchers currently know little about the neurons involved in the process.

In a new paper published in the journal eLife, researchers at the University of Rochester, including Greg DeAngelis, the George Eastman Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and his colleagues at Sungkyunkwan University and New York University, describe a novel neural mechanism involved in causal inference that helps the brain detect object motion during self-motion.

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Knowing How the Brain Reacts to Smells May Help Fight Disease

May 11, 2022

From WebMD

You know that complicated equations can predict what story pops up in your news feed or which TikTok video you’ll watch next. But you might not know that math can help us understand what happens in the brain when we smell something.

Researchers at the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester are building complex mathematical models that do just that – and if they continue to make progress, their work may aid in the fight against diseases of the nervous system, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

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Diverse minds and determined hearts make change: Forging equitability in Neuroscience

April 25, 2022

A group, mostly consisting of neuroscientists, meets bi-weekly outside the lab with a simple but powerful common purpose – to fundamentally change the bench.

"This experience has been eye-opening,” said Manuel Gomez-Ramirez, Ph.D., assistant professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester and chair of the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience Diversity Commission. “It is such a diverse group in every sense – cultural, gender, experience in both academics and nonacademics – we are all able to have input and listen to each other while considering different perspectives and focusing on one problem together."

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Student Spotlight: Victoria Popov

April 25, 2022

Victoria Popov is a second year in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Popov graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with an M.S. in professional studies with concentrations in biomedical sciences, psychology, and health systems administration. She graduated with a B.S. from RIT in biomedical sciences.

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CVS graduate student Emily Isenstein receives pre-doctoral fellowship from Autism Science Foundation

April 19, 2022

The Autism Science Foundation (ASF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding innovative autism research and supporting families facing autism, today announced the recipients of its annual pre- and postdoctoral fellowship grants. BCS graduate student Emily Isenstein is among the recipients.

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The art of smell: Research suggests the brain processes smell both like a painting and a symphony

April 4, 2022

What happens when we smell a rose? How does our brain process the essence of its fragrance? Is it like a painting – a snapshot of the flickering activity of cells – captured in a moment in time? Or like a symphony, an evolving ensemble of different cells working together to capture the scent? New research suggests that our brain does both.

"These findings reveal a core principle of the nervous system, flexibility in the kinds of calculations the brain makes to represent aspects of the sensory world," said Krishnan Padmanabhan, Ph.D., an associate professor of Neuroscience and senior author of the study recently published in Cell Reports. "Our work provides scientists with new tools to quantify and interpret the patterns of activity of the brain."

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Congratulations to the Poster Abstract Winners at the 2022 CVS Retreat

March 31, 2022

Thanks to generous donations from the Rochester chapter of Society for Neuroscience and two anonymous donors, CVS was able to award a total of $950 in prize money for the poster competition at the CVS Retreat on March 25, 2022.

Howard Li profile

1st place ($350): Howard Li (Rucci lab), Saccade-amplitude dependent enhancement of visual sensitivity

Boris Penaloza profile

2nd place ($250): Boris Penaloza (DeAngelis/Haefner labs), Divisive normalization as a mechanism for hierarchical causal inference in motion perception

Katherine Andersh profile

3rd place ($150): Katherine Andersh (Libby lab), The role of proinflammatory cytokines in retinal ganglion cell death

Honorary Mentions ($50 each):

Yongyi (Christie) Cai profile

Yongyi (Christie) Cai (Williams lab), Image scanning microscopy for in vivo ganglion cells classification

Samantha Jenks profile

Samantha Jenks (Poletti lab), Visual anisotropies within the foveola

Ben Moon profile

Ben Moon (Rolland lab), Alignment and validation of an AOSLO for imaging the human cone mosaic in the central fovea

Zoe Stearns profile

Zoe Stearns (Poletti lab), Temporal dynamics of peri-microsaccadic perceptual modulations in the foveola


A key to restoring sight may be held in a drug that treats alcoholism

March 18, 2022

Researchers may have found a way to revive some vision loss caused by age-related macular degeneration – the leading cause of blindness – and the inherited disease retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a rare genetic disorder that causes the breakdown and loss of cells in the retina. The drug disulfiram – marketed under the brand name Antabuse – used to treat alcoholism, may hold the key to restoring this vision loss.

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