UCL Institute of Neurology


IoN News Archive (2010)

Epilepsy prizes

Congratulations to Dr David Carmichael of the Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy  who has won the first Sir Peter Mansfield Prize for technical developments in the field of Magnetic Resonance and Biology.  The Sir Peter Mansfield Prize is awarded by the British Chapter of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine  for outstanding research on innovative technical developments in the field of magnetic resonance in medicine and biology submitted to their Annual Scientific Meeting. 

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Wellcome Success

We are delighted to congratulate two researchers based at Queen Square, Dr Paul Bays (IoN Department of Brain Repair and Rehabilitation) and Dr Fiona McNab (Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience), on being awarded Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowships.

The Wellcome Career Development Fellowship scheme provides an opportunity for postdoctoral scientists from across the remits of the Wellcome Trust's funding streams to become independent research scientists and undertake high-quality research.

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Researchers to study how the brain 'rewires itself'

A researcher from UCL is part of a US-led team investigating how the brain and its microcircuitry react to physiological changes and what could be done to encourage its recovery from injury.

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Professor John Duncan appointed as NIHR Senior Investigator

The Institute is delighted  to congratulate Professor John Duncan on his appointment as a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Senior Investigator.

Senior Investigators are NIHR’s most pre-eminent researchers and include some of the nation’s most outstanding leaders of patient and people based health and social care research.

Professor Duncan joins eight other members of Institute staff recognised in this way by the NIHR. They are Professors:  Martin Brown, John Collinge, Nick Fox, Andrew Lees, David Miller, Martin Rossor, Alan ThompsonNicholas Wood, the highest number in the field of neuroscience in any single institution in the UK.

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A role for astrocytes in learning and memory?

New research published today in the prestigious journal Nature sheds further light on how memories are formed in the brain.

Memories are formed through changes in the strength of individual synaptic connections between nerve cells. However, a large proportion of brain cells belong to glia which, unlike nerve cells, do not make synapses, are not electrically active and until recently have been associated with exclusively supporting roles. 

Researchers from the Institute Department of Clinical & Experimental Epilepsy (in collaboration with colleagues in INSERM U 862 at the University of Bordeaux) have found that individual star-shaped glial cells called astrocytes release a specific signalling molecule, called D-serine, which is essential for triggering the memory trace machinery in active synapses nearby. 

Astrocytes, once thought little more than passive, structurally supportive brain cells, are increasingly recognized as having a range of important properties and functions, such as the ability to release chemical messengers and signal to other cells. This study helps to add another potential function to that list.

Dmitri Rusakov
, who led the research at the Institute said: “This finding establishes a previously unknown role of glia in basic functions of the human brain identifying a yet unexplored target area for therapeutic intervention.”

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New centre brings hope to patients with muscle wasting diseases

The official opening, which took place in December, of one of Europe’s first comprehensive clinical and research centres into adult muscle wasting neuromuscular diseases will bring hope to thousands of patients with disabling and life threatening conditions.

The new MRC Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN) and the UCL Institute of Neurology will combine excellent patient care with cutting edge scientific research to develop new treatments for patients.

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Prestigious European research grant awarded

David Choi (Department of Brain Repair & Rehabilitation, Spinal Repair Unit) received €1.6 million for a four-year project, which aims to use unique cells from the nose, called olfactory ensheathing cells, in patients who have had an injury to the nerves connecting the spinal cord to the arm. He explains: “At the moment, these injuries are associated with permanent severe pain and paralysis of the arm. Transplantation of these cells in experimental models has shown improvements in function, and we aim to study these effects now in patients.”

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