Neurobiology - News

Chicago Neural Repair Club (NRC)

The Neurobiology Program has gained prominence in the Chicago area for hosting the Chicago Neural Repair Club, a scientific forum that attracts neuroscientists from all of Chicago. For the past 12 years, the club has hosted approximately 6 seminars per year with an emphasis on promoting interactions among developmental neuroscientists and neuroscientists interested in neurodegenerative diseases.

Click here for dates and more information for the 2011-2012 NRC series

 Neurobiology Research Hour

 Neurobiology Research Hour is a Bi-weekly gathering for program members to share research in a public setting.  The series is occasionally augmented with guest speakers. 

  Click here for a current Neurobiology Research Hour schedule   


 Sookyong Koh, MD, PhD Receives NIH R01 Funding for Epilepsy Research

Click here for more information on Dr. Koh's lab

Bohn Lab Summer Student, Amanda Becerra, Receives Katz Summer Student Fellowship

 Amanda Becerra is an undergraduate student at Notre Dame University. She was awarded a Katz summer student research fellowship to undertake a research project in the laboratory of Martha C Bohn, PhD under the mentorship of postdoctoral fellow, Christina Khodr, PhD. Amanda worked on a project to investigate possible mechanisms of how inclusion of a portion of the 3’untranslated region of the alpha-synuclein gene reduces toxicity of human alpha-synuclein expression in rat dopamine neurons in the brain stem. Dopamine neurons die in this model of Parkinson’s disease, and the long term goal of the project is to interfere with the action of alpha-synuclein, a protein linked to pathology in the Parkinson’s brain, as well as to other neurodegenerative disease. Together with Dr. Khodr, Amanda specifically examined differences in the various forms of alpha-synuclein protein made by DA neurons when only the protein-coding region of alpha-synuclein was expressed compared to expression of the coding region containing a portion of the 3’UTR. These studies which are still ongoing promise to provide insight on the toxic alpha-synuclein species involved in pathogenesis of synucleinopathies, such as Parkinson’s disease.

Previous Neurobiology Program recipients of the Katz summer research scholar fellowship include Timothy Spear (Bohn Lab '09), Tina Dragisic (Ma Lab '09) and Alyssa Bartolini (Koh Lab '09).



Profile: Christina Khodr, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Bohn Lab  

 Yongsoo Kim to Defend Thesis at Northwestern University 
  On Tuesday, February 2, Yongsoo Kim will give a public defense of the thesis, "Cell Migration and Proliferation in Postnatal Murine Subventricular Zone Neurogenesis:  Roles of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor and Dopamine Receptor 3."  Kim is a student in the lab of adjunct faculty member, Dr. Francis Szele.   

Martha C. Bohn, PhD and Aleksandra Glavaski, PhD visit the laboratory of Dr. Mari Dezawa

Glavaski JapanDr. Mari Dezawa invited Martha C. Bohn, PhD and Aleksandra Glavaski, PhD to visit her lab in Japan to learn new techniques for turning bone marrow into nerve cells. This technique may be a novel future approach for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Bohn and Glavaski are studying the potential of this approach for Parkinson's disease.  Read Glavaski's interview about the experience. 


Yong-Chao Ma, PhD Appointed to Neurobiology Faculty

Yong-Chao Ma 

The research center is pleased to announce the recruitment of Yong-Chao Ma, PhD, to the Neurobiology Program as assistant professor of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Michael Greenberg at Harvard Medical School/Children’s Hospital of Boston, where he received the William Randolph Hearst Award and a fellowship from the American Cancer Society. Ma is interested in the long-standing question of how extrinsic cellular factors lead to the formation of the different types of neurons that comprise the mammalian brain. He discovered a novel mechanism that is involved in the formation of motor neurons in the spinal cord; the findings were recently reported in the prestigious journal Neuron.

At the research center, Ma plans to define the mechanisms involved in the formation of dopamine neurons. This research will be relevant to neurological disorders in which the neurotransmitter dopamine is important, such as Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, addiction, schizophrenia, depression and some forms of dementia. He hopes to generate a genome-wide picture of transcription factors involved in the development of dopamine neurons and to define their interactions. Ma will also apply his findings to the differentiation of stem cells into defined types of neurons, which will be an exciting contribution to the field of regenerative medicine. Ma will join the research center in September.

Koh Recognized for Epilepsy Research

Sookyong Koh, MD, PhD, received the 2008 Dreifuss-Penry Epilepsy Award during the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 60th annual meeting. This award recognizes physicians in the early stages of their careers who have made an independent contribution to epilepsy research. Koh is assistant professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, an attending physician in the Division of Neurology at Children’s Memorial Hospital and a member of the Neurobiology Program of Children's Memorial Research Center.

Drs. Bohn and Goya (University of LaPlata) Receive Fogarty Award


Martha C. Bohn, PhD at the CMRC and Rodolfo Goya, PhD at the University of LaPlata were awarded an NIH Fogarty Award in 2004 under a program to stimulate research on aging in developing countries. Goya has a colony of senile rats which is not available elsewhere and the project is applying gene therapy in these rats for aging neurons in the hypothalamus, the region of the brain that controls hormones. This award included travel funds for mutual visits of the scientists at the two institutions. Last year, Dr. Goya and three scientists in his lab visited the CMRC last year. This November, Dr. Bohn and Dr. Elio F. Vanin, managing director of the CMRC viral vector facility, visited the Univ. of LaPlata for a week. Seminars were presented by both Bohn and Vanin at the Univ. of LaPlata, and at the Institute for Experimental Biology and Medicine and the Leloir Foundation, both in Buenos Aires. The Argentinian hospitality was outstanding and included great food, wonderful scenery and interesting scientific discussion.

Budding scientists visit the CMRC

On February 9, 2006, Ms. Kathy Bartley from Highland High School in Highland, Indiana, brought her Advanced Biology class to Children’s Memorial Research Center to spend a day with researchers. The students met with 10 scientists, both faculty and postdoctoral fellows, at the CMRC, each of whom gave a specialized presentation on topics such as zebrafish, viruses for gene therapy, Parkinson’s disease research, embryonic stem cells and DNA/RNA techniques. The guests also toured the CMRC laboratories and saw first hand equipment used for gene arrays, DNA analysis and the like.

This was the second year in a row that the Advanced Biology class has visited the CMRC. Dr. Martha Bohn, Director of the Neurobiology Program which hosted the visit, said, “These were very enthusiastic young people who asked lots of great questions and said that their negative views on stem cell research had changed 180 degrees as a consequence of their visit”.

Martha C. Bohn, PhD, Program Director

Scientists in the Neurobiology Program have been conducting investigations of molecular processes underlying normal and abnormal brain development since 1997. Their research may ultimately lead to novel molecular and genetic therapies for diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord in children and adults. Investigators are involved in a variety of studies, examining, among others: (i) genes important to the formation of specific areas in the developing brain; (ii) how stem cells in the brain behave after brain injury; (iii) the role of growth factors in the development of the nervous system, nerve function, and death of neurons; and (iv) mechanisms involved in brain tumor formation, including gene expression profiles to identify certain brain tumors. One focus is on laboratory studies of gene therapy as an approach to correct defective genes in nerve cells, to kill tumor cells, and to prevent the progression of neurodegenerative diseases. For example, Dr. Bohn has successfully ameliorated the progression of disease in animal models of Lou Gehrig’s and Parkinson’s diseases through gene therapy. Her team is now seeking to develop means for successfully delivering therapeutic genes to the human nervous system for people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases and nervous system injuries.

A new initiative of the Neurobiology Program, Children’s Research on Injury to the Brain (CRIB), brings together approximately 60 scientists representing a variety of disciplines who are conducting studies into the causes, treatment, and prevention of brain disease and injury. CRIB integrates diverse aspects of research and clinical studies, such as neurosurgery, cellular level function, and prevention and outcomes measures, to better understand brain development and ways to improve outcomes for children with brain injuries. CRIB’s goal is to facilitate the application of recently acquired scientific knowledge and technologies to develop novel clinical therapies – such as gene therapy and delivery approaches – for the brain and spinal cord.