Supraja Varadarajan

The Winner of the 25th Annual Samuel Eiduson Student Lecture Award

Supraja Varadarajan from the Laboratory of Dr. Samantha Butler will present the 25th Annual Samuel Eiduson Lecture entitled, “Redefining the Role of Netrin1 as an Axon Guidance Cue in the Developing Spinal Cord”.

This award recognizes an outstanding graduate student in the neurosciences who has done especially commendable work during dissertation research.

Supraja Varadarajan is a seventh year graduate student who recently defended her doctoral thesis in May. She received her bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology Engineering in India and a master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, NJ.

Before graduate school, Supraja spent some time as a research assistant at UC Irvine with Dr. Aileen Anderson working on spinal cord injury.

Supraja’s graduate work has shed new light on the role of netrin1 as an axon guidance cue in the developing spinal cord while also suggesting a new mode of axon guidance. Her studies identify, for the first time, the key role that neural progenitors have in this process, orchestrating the sequential transfer of netrin1 protein that ultimately sets up a substrate to shape axonal trajectories.

Theresa Harrison

BRI member leads study showing how a molecular receptor helps restore brain function after 'silent stroke'

S. Thomas Carmichael, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine, is senior author of a five year study that shows how the brain can be repaired and brain function recovered after a stroke in animals.

The discovery could have important implications for treating a mind-robbing condition known as a white matter stroke, which is a major form of dementia. "Despite how common and devastating white matter stroke is, there has been little understanding of how the brain responds and if it can recover," Dr. Carmichael said. "By studying the mechanisms and limitations of brain repair in this type of stroke, we will be able to identify new therapies to prevent disease progression and enhance recovery."

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (December 27th, 2016).

More details here.

Image left: New brain cells replace those destroyed by stroke in animals: immature cells are green, more mature cells are red and fully mature cells are orange.


Hagfish Calendar

Image of the Month

Top left image shows a model of the hagfish opioid
receptor. Bottom left image shows the ligand binding
pocket. Right: Hagfish opioid receptor tagged w/FLAG
expressed in HED-293 cells. Compared to control,
treatment with the mu agonist, etorphine, (bottom)
showing agonist-induced internalization of the receptor.

By: Alden Huang and Anna Taylor - Giovanni Coppola Lab

In the News Image

Announcing the Inaugural Recipients of the BRI Knaub Fellowship in Multiple Sclerosis Research 

Funded by a generous gift from the Knaub Unitrust, established by Richard and Suzanne Knaub, the fellowships support Postdoctoral or Predoctoral Fellows pursuing projects related to Multiple Sclerosis research at UCLA. The fellowships recognize young scientists who exemplify trainee excellence, innovation, and a multidisciplinary approach to MS research. 

The inaugural Knaub Fellows are Stefano Lepore, Ph.D. from the laboratory of Allan Mackenzie-Graham, Ph.D.; and David DiTullio from the laboratory of S. Thomas Carmichael, M.D., Ph.D. 

"We want to express our sincere gratitude to the Knaub family for this generous gift which will enable these young researchers to contribute to translational research related to understanding and treating MS," said BRI Director Christopher Evans.

Learn more about the 2017 Knaub Fellows here.



The Neuroscience Interdepartmental Program


Graduate Program

Undergraduate Program

Upcoming Events

Joint Seminars in Neuroscience Lecture Series


Tuesday, May 30, 2017
12:00noon - 1:00pm
Neuroscience Research Building (NRB) 1st Floor Auditorium

Wolfram Schultz, Ph.D.
Department of Physiology
Development & Neuroscience
University of Cambridge, UK

"Getting the Best Deal: Neuronal Rewards Signals for Economic Utility Maximization"

Rewards induce learning (positive reinforcement), approach behavior, economic decisions and positive emotions (pleasure, desire). We investigate basic neuronal reward signals during learning and decision-making, using behavioral and neurophysiological methods. We use specific behavioral tools to establish formal economic utility functions that constitute mathematical representations of behavioral preferences and predict the animal's choices. We find that the dopamine reward prediction error (RPE) signal codes economic utility, which may explain the maximization of utility required for evolutionary beneficial behavior. RPEs have specific valences whereby they act in specific directions; a positive RPE increases and a negative RPE reduces, the frequency of actions that led to that RPE. Given that electrical and optogenetic activation of dopamine neurons mimics positive RPE, decision makers would seek situations leading to positive RPEs and avoid negative RPEs, thus increasing the rewards they are getting. Such an ever-increasing reward profile would lead to utility maximization.







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