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AI helps bring clarity to LASIK patients facing cataract surgery

September 20, 2023

While millions of people have undergone LASIK eye surgery since it became commercially available in 1989, patients sometimes develop cataracts later in life and require new corrective lenses to be implanted in their eyes. With an increasing number of intraocular lens options becoming available, scientists have developed computational simulations to help patients and surgeons see the best options.

In a study in the Journal of Cataracts & Refractive Surgery, researchers from the University of Rochester created computational eye models that included the corneas of post-LASIK surgery patients and studied how standard intraocular lenses and lenses designed to increase depth of focus performed in operated eyes. Susana Marcos, the David R. Williams Director of the Center for Visual Science and the Nicholas George Professor of Optics and of Ophthalmology at Rochester, says the computational models that use anatomical information of the patient’s eye provide surgeons with important guidance on the expected optical quality post-operatively.

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Pathway program proves access can cultivate scientists

September 11, 2023

In the summer of 2021, the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience Diversity Commission and the City College of New York launched the partnership program NEUROCITY. Using the Summer Scholars Program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry as a model, organizers created a program that has, to date, put nearly 30 undergraduate students from historically marginalized backgrounds in research labs across the University of Rochester and University of Rochester Medical Center campuses.

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Wired for research

August 16, 2023

In a laboratory at the University of Rochester’s Center for Advanced Brain Imaging & Neurophysiology, Sophea Urbi Biswas ’24 pores over brain wave signals recorded from a person listening to an audiobook next door. Biswas, a senior biomedical engineering student from Bangladesh, is attempting to see if the syntactic features of the words and phrases the participant listens to are reflected in the waves picked up by the electroencephalography (EEG) cap they wear.

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Susana Marcos recognized at Spain’s Smart Woman Forum & Awards

August 8, 2023

Susana Marcos, the David R. Williams Director of the Center for Visual Science and the Nicholas George Professor of Optics and of Ophthalmology, was recognized with an award for best investigator by Spain’s Federation of Health Innovation Industry. She was recognized at the Smart Woman Forum & Awards in Madrid on July 19.

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Pathway program scholars’ complete final poster presentations

August 4, 2023

Students from the NEUROCITY and NEUROEAST programs presented their projects during the 2023 Summer Undergraduate Research Programs Poster Session at the School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Rochester Medical Center on Thursday, August 3. NEUROCITY is a partnership program with the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience Diversity Commission and City College of New York (CCNY) that gives historically marginalized undergraduate students an opportunity to work in neuroscience-related research labs at the University of Rochester during the summer. NEUROEAST is a partnership program with the Neuroscience Diversity Commission and East High School in the Rochester City School District. Selected high school students work in neuroscience-related labs, learning to conduct research and navigate the education and training necessary to pursue a research career.

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Announcing the 2023 Makous Prize Winners

August 1, 2023

The Walt and Bobbi Makous Prize was established in 2012 by the Center for Visual Science, a research program of more than 40 faculty at the University dedicated to understanding how the human eye and brain allow us to see. The prize is named for Walt Makous, who was Director of the Center for Visual Science at the University of Rochester throughout the 1980s, and his wife Bobbi. The prize honors the graduating senior who has made the most outstanding contribution to vision research at Rochester.

The three recipients of this year's prizes are Kallam Danial Kara-Pabani, Kendall Kohout, and Glory Linebach. Congratulations to the winners and read more about their research interests at the link below.

Kallam Danial Kara-Pabani

Kallam Danial Kara-Pabani

Kendall Kohout

Kendall Kohout

Glory Linebach

Glory Linebach

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Protecting the vulnerable, informing the future

July 24, 2023

This is not another story about COVID. This is a story about how a group of scientists—including a neuroscientist, virologist, and nephrologist—and school leadership rolled up their sleeves, stepped outside of their comfort zones, and formed an unlikely team that relentlessly navigated a pandemic in real-time to keep some of the most vulnerable students to the virus safe, staff healthy, schools open, and how at times, they were able to stop COVID in its tracks.

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Postdoctoral Spotlight: Allison Murphy, PhD

July 24, 2023

Allison Murphy, PhD (’23), a postdoctoral associate in the lab of Farran Briggs, PhD, received a doctoral degree in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Her research focuses on the structure and function of a feedback connection between two brain areas: the primary visual cortex and the visual part of the thalamus (LGN). Examining how this connection is organized, and how the neurons in the primary visual cortex influence the activity in the LGN could aid in understanding how this pathway contributes to visual processing.

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Inaugural Awardees of the CVS Pilot Funds for Vision Research

July 10, 2023

It is our great pleasure to announce the awardees of the inaugural CVS Pilot Funds for Vision Research:

Farran BriggsMichael Telias

PIs: Farran Briggs & Michael Telias. Grant Title: Modeling retinoic acid-driven maladaptive plasticity in the visual pathway of retinal degeneration mice

Adam SnyderEd Lalor

PIs: Adam Snyder & Ed Lalor. Grant Title: Multi-scale mechanisms of feature-based attention in humans and non-human primates

Michael TeliasSusana Marcos

PIs: Michael Telias & Susana Marcos. Grant Title: Studying the role of retinoic acid signaling in refractive error and myopia

Grants represent collaborative efforts between PIs with primary affiliations in different departments and are expected to yield pilot data for NEI applications, preferably through an R01. All three grants will be funded at the maximum funding level of $50K, for one year. The Brain and Cognitive Science Department has provided matching funds to the grant with a PI from BCS. The Institute of Optics provides in addition funding for a graduate student in Optics to support the program.

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Research finds prediction may be key to eye-and-hand coordination

June 5, 2023

Have you ever made a great catch—like saving a phone from dropping into a toilet or catching an indoor cat from running outside? Those skills—the ability to grab a moving object—takes precise interactions within and between our visual and motor systems. Researchers at the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester have found that the ability to visually predict movement may be an important part of the ability to make a great catch—or grab a moving object.

"We were able to develop a method that allowed us to analyze behaviors in a natural environment with high precision, which is important because, as we showed, behavioral patterns differ in a controlled setting," said Kuan Hong Wang, PhD, a Dean’s Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Wang led the study out today in Current Biology in collaboration with Jude Mitchell, PhD, assistant professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester, and Luke Shaw, a graduate student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the School of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Rochester. "Understanding how natural behaviors work will give us better insight into what is going awry in an array of neurological disorders."

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2023 University Research Award recipients announced

May 15, 2023

Two CVS faculty members were awarded University Research Awards for 2023, Duje Tadin and Krishnan Padmanabhan.

The University Research Awards (URA) provide seed money on a competitive basis for innovative research projects that, when sufficiently developed, are likely to attract external support.

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Research continues to rule out brain’s immune system as key to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders

May 8, 2023

(UPDATE) A new study out in Frontiers in Neuroscience found early alcohol exposure does not change the connection between the brain's immune system and neurons that send information related to functions like balance and memory.

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Research shows how a common form of trauma can seriously alter your brain chemistry: ‘[The findings] are striking’

May 2, 2023

From The Cool Down (

Trauma from experiencing extreme weather events and other climate disasters can change the way your brain works, making it harder to process information, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of California and California State University analyzed existing electroencephalography (EEG) scans taken from survivors of California’s 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in state history.

They then compared the group to a control population that had never been exposed to the fire, finding that those who had survived the fire showed significant differences in brain activity and cognitive function.

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Researchers find rhythmic brain activity helps to maintain temporary memories

April 24, 2023

New research shows that rhythmic brain activity is key to temporarily maintaining important information in memory. Researchers at the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester published these findings today in Current Biology that found brain rhythms—or patterns of neuronal activity—organize the bursts of activity in the brain that maintain short-term connections.

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Possible ‘steps’ to revealing super-agers

April 13, 2023

On the quest for the proverbial fountain of youth, scientists have long looked for evidence of super-agers—people whose brain ages slower than their body. Researchers at the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester have found older adults whose brain performance improves when they combine a cognitive task with walking.

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Susana Marcos Awarded the Edwin H. Land Medal

April 10, 2023

Susana Marcos, the David R. Williams Director of the Center for Visual Science and the Nicholas George Endowed Professor in Optics, has been awarded the Edwin H. Land Medal by Optica (formerly OSA) and the Society for Imaging Science and Technology. The award recognizes research and work in optics and imaging to create inventions, technologies, and products that have had a major impact on the public. Established in 1992, the Land Medal honors noted scientist and entrepreneur Edwin H. Land, the inventor of instant photography and founder of the Polaroid Corporation.

Optica press release

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Through the eye of the beholder: People with autism may process illusory shapes differently

February 28, 2023

“How our brain puts together pieces of an object or visual scene is important in helping us interact with our environments,” said Emily Knight, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Neuroscience and Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and first author on a study out today in the Journal of Neuroscience. “When we view an object or picture, our brains use processes that consider our experience and contextual information to help anticipate sensory inputs, address ambiguity, and fill in the missing information.”

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Small, involuntary eye movements help us see a stable world

February 23, 2023

Our eyes are never at rest. Instead, they remain in motion, even between our voluntary gaze shifts, through fixational eye movements—small, continuous movements of the eye that we are not aware of making.

Scientists have long sought to understand how we humans can perceive the world as stable as our eyes are constantly moving. Past research has suggested that, in the intervals between voluntary gaze shifts, the human visual system builds a picture of a stable world by relying solely on sensory inputs from fixational eye movements. According to new research by a team at the University of Rochester, however, there may be another contributing factor.

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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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