In The News 2016
|Chronic pain linked to partners of people with depression
Chronic pain is a common cause of disability but little is known about what causes it. A collaborative project between Universities of Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Glasgow shows that partners of people with depression are more likely to suffer from chronic pain. Professor Andrew McIntosh (Psychiatry) and collegues lead a study which analysed genetic background as well as pain and depression experiences from more than 100,000 people.
The study shows that the two conditions share common causes - some of which are genetic whilst other causes originate from the environment that partners share. The research used data from the Generation Scotland and UK Biobank projects – major studies investigating genetic links to health conditions. Professor Andrew McIntosh, Chair of Biological Psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh, said: "We hope our research will encourage people to think about the relationship between chronic pain and depression and whether physical and mental illnesses are as separate as some believe."
|Mutation in DISC1 gene affects brain structure
The DISC1 mutation was first identified in a Scottish family and has been associated with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and recurrent major depression. Now, a study led by Prof Stephe Lawrie (Psychiatry)
has confirmed that people with the mutation had structural changes in their brain which were linked with the severity of their symptoms of mental ill health. The carriers of the mutation had reduced glutamate levels in certain areas of their brain. Professor Stephen Lawrie: “This study confirms and extends the genetics of DISC1, and shows how that and similar genetic effects can increase the risk of major mental illnesses.” The study was published in Nature partner journal Schizophrenia.
click here for the publication
|Anna Williams promoted to Professor of Regenerative Neurology
Anna Williams, Scottish Senior Research Fellow (Centre for Regenerative Medicine) and Honorary Consultant Neurologist (Anne Rowling Clinic) has been appointed to the Chair of Regenerative Neurology. Professor Williams' research seeks to understand why remyelination fails in MS, and to improve its efficiency. The promotion is a recognition of the excellence of her research and her valuable clinical input. Congratulations!
|Stem cell scheme to boost bipolar studies
Stem cells from patients with bipolar disorder are being made available to scientists around the world to boost research into the condition. Professor Andrew McIntosh (Psychiatry) and his team have produced stem cells from skin cells donated by people with bipolar disorder as well as members of their family that are unaffected. As stem cells can be programmed into brain cells, this approach allows scientists to study how bipolar disorder affects brain cells. The stem cells will be expanded and banked by collaborators at the UK biotechnology company Roslin Cell Sciences and they will be distributed via the new European Bank for induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (EBiSC). Professor Andrew McIntosh, of the University of Edinburgh, who led the project, said: "Being able to grow brain cells from families with bipolar disorder represents a major addition to our research toolbox. It will enable us to discover what goes awry in the brains of people with bipolar disorder and a number of other psychiatric disorders. It will also provide a platform against which new and more effective therapies can be tried, reducing the need for animal experiments."
|Prof. Siddharthan Chandran joins the Executive Team of Dementias Platform UK
Dementias Platform UK appointed Prof. Siddharthan Chandran, Director of Edinburgh Neuroscience, to the Executive Team to represent Edinburgh University and provide a Scottish perspective to the development of UK Programmes, replacing Prof. Ian Deary, Edinburgh University, who is stepping down after serving 2 years as an Executive Team member. Prof. Chandran works in the emerging discipline of Regenerative Neurology and his research combines laboratory activity that includes human stem cells with specialist clinics (MS and MND) to both study disease as well as undertake early-phase clinical trials. The appointment follows his recent success receiving MRC grant to establish UK wide stem cell technical expertise to support and enable the wider research community to biologically study reprogrammed stem cells derived utilising DPUK Stem Cell Infrastructure. Prof Chandran said: "Now is an exciting time for Dementia research in the UK and full of possibilities. I am particularly keen to promote how the health data science environment of Scotland with its unique e-record system and Scottish MRC Farr hub might accelerate progress in harnessing high value population and disease cohorts for clinical research and trials".
|Exhibition celebrating the life and work of Professor Sir Godfrey Thomson
Sir Godfrey - who led the world's only nationwide IQ tests, in Scotland - was an innovative educator who firmly believed that educational opportunity should not be linked to social status. His greatest legacy for today's researchers was to test the intelligence of almost every Scottish 11-year-old child in 1932, and again in 1947. From 29th of July, for the first time, the Scottish Mental Surveys' unique ledgers will go on public view, with a selection of sample pages on show. The ledgers hold the world's only record of IQ-type scores from full national year-of-birth cohorts.
Sir Godfrey's Moray House Tests and their application in the Scottish Mental Surveys are the foundation of the research that Ian Deary and colleagues have produced since the late 1990s into how the brain ages. They are the basis of the Lothian Birth Cohort studies and The Disconnected Mind project. The exhibition also describes how Sir Godfrey's personal and professional papers were rescued from his family home before it was demolished. Please visit the exhibition and find out more about who Sir Godfrey was and what his motivations were.
Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology
The Times (28july16)
|ERC and Wellcome Trust awards for synapse research
Professor Seth Grant in CCBS has been awarded two grants to lead research which will further our understanding of synapse diversity and enable synaptome mapping. The first award is the prestigious European Research Council Advanced Grant which funds a 4-year programme investigating how synaptome maps develop and are reorganized by mutations causing cognitive disorders. Professor Grant has also been awarded a 3-year Wellcome Trust Technology Development Grant to develop a technology pipeline for mapping individual synapses at the whole brain scale. In collaboration with Professors Douglas Armstrong and Richard Baldock this project will generate key reference resources and provide the wider scientific community with a valuable tool for synapse mapping.
|MRC fellowship success
Dr Tim Wilkinson, a clinical research fellow in Prof Cathie Sudlow's UK Biobank and Dementias Platform UK group based in CCBS, has been awarded an MRC clinical research training fellowship to pursue a big data epidemiology project in the field of dementia. Tim plans to use the UK Biobank and other large datasets to develop and validate clinically useful prediction tools for identifying people at risk of developing dementia in the future, who might be eligible for recruitment into trials of novel preventive treatments, or to receive such treatments in the future.
|New findings in parasomnia highlighted at FENS 2016
Research Fellow, EmmaLee Maschauer, participated in a press release at the FENS 2016 conference in Copenhagen last week regarding recent research she, Dr. Renata Riha, and Dr. Ian Morrison have been uncovering regarding novel findings in sexual behaviour in sleep (SBS). SBS is a parasomnia, an abnormal behaviour during sleep, where the person will engage in sexual activity during sleep. Much of the previous work in this area has been based on small case series or expert opinion. The team from the University of Edinburgh, examined a group of 20 men and three women who were referred to one of the largest specialist sleep disorders clinics in the UK.
The study is part of a wider research programme to understand the psychiatric and psychological causes of complex sleep behaviours. Led by Dr Ian Morrison and Dr Renata Riha at the University of Edinburgh, it involves neurologists and scientists from universities throughout Scotland, including the Universities of Edinburgh and Dundee, and specialists in sleep medicine, psychology, psychiatry and the law.
Ms EmmaLee Maschauer from Edinburgh told delegates at FENS 2016, “We identified features of sexsomnia that haven’t been described previously, including childhood onset, variable recall of the behaviours, and a possible link with other psychiatric conditions including post-traumatic stress or anxiety disorders. These issues are important, particularly in the forensic setting, and may influence outcome in criminal trials of serious sexual offences.”
|Official opening of the Centre for Dementia Prevention and a new study launched
Last Wednesday, 6th of July, the new Centre for Dementia Prevention was officially opened by Chancellor of the University, HRH The Princess Royal, at its new premises at Bioquarter, Little France.
During the event it was announced that Professor Craig Ritchie, Co-director of the Centre, and his team are seeking around 250 healthy volunteers over the age of 65 to join a multi-million pound study that will track how the brain ages over several years with an aim of developing new treatments that could prevent the disease in those at risk.
|Euan's Guide: 'It's often the small things that really make a difference'
For the 11 million people in the UK living with a disability, knowing how accessible somewhere is in advance can save time, money and a lot of frustration. Euan's Guide app and website, launched in 2013 by Eaun MacDonald, allows users rate venues, leave reviews describing ease of access, lavatories, disabled parking and how helpful the staff are. Euan's Guide has recently been featured in the Guardian to celebrate 4,000 places listed on the site!
read article here
|Neuroresearchers Fund Awards! Congratulations to our 2016 Neuroresearchers Fund awardees:
Dr Marie Bechler (Postdoctoral Fellow, MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine): £1,125 to visit the Broad Institute, Boston, USA to learn how to develop an image analysis pipelines for high content microfiber assays of myelin sheath formation.
Dr Nina Rzechorzek (WT Integrated Veterinary Training Fellow, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Medicine and Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences): £236 for add-on visit to University of Missouri and North Carolina State University, USA to establish collaborations in neurogenetics and stem cell modelling of canine neurodegeneration disorders.
We were not able to award the £800 available to PhD students in the Deanery of Biomedical Sciences as no eligible applications were received. This is a real shame and we have had to return the funding.
|Project Award from MND (Motor Neurone Disease) Scotland to study synaptic integrity
Dr. Chris Henstridge (Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems) has just been awarded a 3-year grant to investigate synaptic integrity in the brain of MND patients. MND is caused by a breakdown of cells in the brain and in the spinal cord, which regulate muscle control. However, in the brain, damage is not restricted to the regions controlling movement, suggesting that symptoms of the disease may be due to dysfunction of numerous brain areas. In this study, we will analyse the abundance of connections (synapses) between cells in the brain, in both movement and non-movement areas, to discover if a loss of synapses associates with the changes in behaviour and brain function in people with MND. This project will utilise state-of-the-art imaging technologies to examine the cells of MND brains at post-mortem to analyse the integrity of the connections between them. This type of research is vital for advancing our understanding of MND and necessary for the design of new drugs for the disease.
announcement on MND website
|Motor Neurone Disease (MND) awareness month
In order to celebrate MND awareness day a live interview with Edinburgh Neuroscience Director Professor Siddharthan Chandran will be broadcast tomorrow night at 7 pm. Don't forget to tune in!
Press here to watch the interview
|Is hearing voices a sign of losing mind?
For years, hearing voices served as a symbol of a fear we all share - losing our minds. However, it is not necessarily pathological, Professor Stephen Lawrie (Psychiatry) explains. You can listen to his interview on the BBC Radio 4 show Borders of Sanity, which was broadcast last week. The show examined how perception of 'hearing voices' has changed over the years and what life is like for voice hearers in the UK today.
press here to listen to the show
|Multiple Sclerosis (MS) study probes how gut reactions influence risk of disease
People with MS are being invited to join a study by the University's Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic that will investigate the effect of gut bacteria on health. Dr Peter Connick (Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences) will lead a study which will analyse bacteria living in the digestive systems of people with MS using DNA sequencing and compare them with samples from people they live with who do not have the condition. The findings may help understand how these bacteria can affect the immune system, and the impact this may have in determining the development of MS. People interested in joining the study can find more information at www.annerowlingclinic.com.
|A boost for cognitive ageing research
Alan J. Gow (Psychology, Herriot Watt University and Centre for Cognitive Ageing & Cognitive Epidemiology) has received a grant for 3 years from Velux Stiftung for the Intervention Factory which will test a range of activities within existing community-based programmes as potential interventions to reduce cognitive ageing in old age. The project will benefit from input from a local Intervention Factory Forum (with colleagues from Age Scotland, NHS Lothian and Edinburgh Council) and an international Advisory Panel. Congratulations!
|Longer-term memory may be better predictor of dementia
Prof Richard Morris and Dr Vassilios Beglopoulos (both Centre for Cognitive & Neural Systems) have published a paper in Nature Communications suggesting that dementia might be detected earlier if longer-term memory were tested instead of short-duration recall. They trained control mice, and mice with a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer's, in a navigation test and found that both groups performed equally well if the mice were re-tested the same day but the mice with 'Alzheimer's' performed more poorly when tested a week later.
The Telegraph (01june16)
The Times (02june16) (subscription required)
Original paper in Nature Communications (01june16)
|Prof Sir Adrian Bird to jointly receive The Shaw Prize
Congratulations to Sir Adrian Bird (Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology) on being named as the joint 2016 recipient of the prestigious Shaw Prize for Life Sciences & Medicine. He is being recognised for his outstanding work which has led to the discovery of the gene and protein (and its mutation), which is the cause of Rett syndrome. This one chemical modification results in this lethal developmental disorder, which is the leading cause of intellectual disabilitiy in girls. This work, however, reaches beyond this condition and has implications for understanding of Autism. He shares the prize with Prof Huda Zoghbi (Baylor College of Medicine, Texas) who gave our Annual Distinguished Lecture at Neuroscience Day 2015. Adrian and Huda will be presented with their award in September in Hong Kong.
The Shaw Prize
Prof Sir Adrian Bird
Prof Huda Zoghbi
|WR Henderson Scholarship Awards 2016
We had a lot of great applications to the WR Henderson Scholarship scheme this year and were able to fund two students (we wished we could have funded more). This award allows them to undertake a summer research placement with a laboratory based in the Deanery of Biomedical Sciences. Congratulations go to:
Makis Tzioras (3rd year Neuroscience BSc, University of Edinburgh) who will be working with Dr Iris Oren (Centre for Cognitive & Neural Systems) on a project 'Correlation of amyloid pathology with EEG abnormalities in Alzheimer's Disease'
Ivan Bartos (2nd year Biological Sciences BSc, University of Edinburgh) who will be working with Dr Nathalie Rochefort, Centre for Integrative Physiology on 'Post-hoc identification of inhibitory neurons subtypes imaged in vivo with 2-photon calcium imaging'
|Edinburgh Neuroscientists at No.11 Downing Street
On 16th of May David Wyllie, Professor of Ion Channel Physiology and Pharmacology, and Alfredo Gonzalez-Sulser, Postodoctoral Fellow at the Centre of Integrative Physiology, attended a reception held at No.11 Downing Street, hosted by Under Secretary of State for Life Sciences, George Freeman MP, during which Epilepsy Research UK (ERUK) announced its new research grants for 2016. Professor David Wyllie and colleagues have been awarded a 24-month project grant to investigate a new model of genetic epilepsy. The team will explore the mechanisms of communication between neurons in the hippocampus (an important memory structure in which seizures frequently originate), and how these go wrong when a specific gene is absent/’faulty’. This is a knowledge-gaining project, but the findings could potentially pave the way for the development of new epilepsy treatments in the next 10-15 years. Prime Minister David Cameron also attended the event, which coincided with National Epilepsy Week, and spoke movingly of his own experience as a parent of a child with epilepsy.
more info about the grant
|Better clinical outcome in stroke patients
Prof. Will Whiteley, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, together with his colleague Prof Eivind Berge, Oslo University Hospital, has been interviewed by Prof. Heinrich Mattle about International Stroke Trial 3 (IST - 3) during the 2nd European Stroke Organisation Conference in Barcelona this May. The video features new findings shedding light on the benefits of alteplase prescription to stroke patients.
Please click here for the video.
|Mouse behaviour experiments without experimenters!
Professor Douglas Armstrong, Informatics, has just published a new paper in Frontiers in Behaviopural Neuroscience, proposing new way of performing animal behaviour experiments. The new method utilises video tracking combined with RFID tags reducing experimenter's involvement while housing the mice within normal social group. Professor Armstrong's findings demonstrate that the system accurately reports individual locomotor behavior within the group and that the measurements taken can provide unique insights into the effects of genetic background on individual and group behavior not previously recognized. Some of the findings were recently presented at at this year's Measuring Behaviour conference held in Dublin at the end of May.
Press here for the journal article.
|Matthew Nolan receives a Wellcome Investigator Award
Prof Matthew Nolan from the Centre for Integrative Physiology has just been awarded Wellcome Investigator Award with the project titled 'Intra- and inter-layer entorhinal circuit mechanisms for estimating location'. His research group is interested in understanding the roles of neural computations in learned behaviour and their approach explores the cellular computations underlying hippocampal- and cerebellar-dependent forms of memory, using molecular manipulations that disrupt specific components of neural information processing. Wellcome Investigator Awards provide flexible support at a level and length appropriate to enable researchers to address the most important questions of relevance to human and animal health and disease.
|Young Investigator award for best publication in 2015 goes to Bonnie Auyeung
Dr Bonnie Auyeung, Chancellor's Fellow in Psychology, has recently received Young Investigator Award at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Baltimore. This award is given for the best papers published in 2015 by an early career researcher. Congratulations, Bonnie!
click here to read the paper
|Statins may shield unborn babies from mother's stress
Prof Megan Holmes (British Heart Foundation Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences) with colleagues has discovered that the widely-prescribed drugs help to counteract the negative impact of stress hormones on fetal growth and heart development in mice. Babies that are exposed to excessive stress hormones in the womb are often born underweight and have a greater risk of heart disease in later life. The statin therapy could lower the chances of babies being born underweight and reduce their risk of health problems in later life, including heart disease.
Professor Megan Holmes, the leading researcher of the study, said: "These are very exciting results suggesting that there may finally be a potential therapy for women whose placenta is unable to maintain the normal growth of her baby".
more info and the journal article
|Virtual tour of the University of Edinburgh's Anatomical Museum
A new interactive app has been launched so that people worldwide can tour the University of Edinburgh's Anatomical Museum. The app opens up areas of the Museum and Old Medical School building that are not usually accessible to the public. These include a room containing more than 1500 skulls from around the world, the skeleton of infamous serial killer William Burke and also gives rare access to the Artists' Flat, a room above the anatomy laboratories that was historically used to produce detailed drawings and paintings of dissected human body parts for use as teaching aids. The app has been developed by Edinburgh-based Luma 3D Interactive, a leading technology firm that specialises in 3D scanning and interactive tours as well as virtual and augmented reality.
iTunes (iOS): https://goo.gl/7eRuci,
Google Play (Android): https://goo.gl/vJ9VqH
|Edinburgh Neuroscience researchers on BBC
Earlier this year we have shared a fascinating research paper showing that learning a new language for only one week improves attention across different student age groups. These findings are featured on BBC this week including interviews with Thomas Bak (School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences), the researcher behind the published study. Make sure to catch the programmes: Benefits of Bilingualism (Monday 16/5/16 at 10.30 pm on BBC World Service, Discovery) and The Truth About...Dementia (Thursday, 19/5/16, 9 pm on BBC1 TV).
|Could Bayes' Theorem explain mental disorders?
An article published last week in Science News discusses an idea that a mathematical expression known as Bayes' theorem may provide novel insights into mental problems that have so far defied explanation. Peggy Series, Computational Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychiatry, explains : "The brain is a guessing machine, trying at each moment of time to guess what is out there". Interestingly, experiments reveal that the guessing process differs in people with some disorders. The Bayes' theory which quantifies how prior expectations can be combined with current evidence, could provide new tools and new ways of looking at mental disorders.
read the article on Science News
|Legal highs users at higher risk of Psychosis
Last week the media highlighted currently topical research carried out in 2014 by
Stephen Lawrie and colleagues (Psychiatry, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences) underlining the dangers of drugs, known as new psychoactive substances (NPS), often used as 'legal highs'. The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, found that 22.2 per cent of 388 patients admitted to the Royal Edinburgh psychiatric hospital had used legal highs and in almost 60 per cent of those cases, the use of NPS had contributed to severe mental health problems that required admission to the hospital. Prof Lawrie warned that some of those who abused NPS were causing themselves serious physical harm as well as damaging their mental health. NPS have emerged to get round drug laws. They are carefully designed to avoid being illegal by altering slightly the composition of banned drugs whose effects they mimic.
read more on Daily Record
|Neuroscience images take centre stage at Edinburgh Imaging exhibition
Edinburgh Imaging has an exhibition of science-images at the Italian Cultural Institute (82 Nicolson Street) and many have been contributed by members of Edinbrugh Neuroscience, including Italian researcher Dario Magnani (MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine). These are open to the public and on display during office hours (closed Fri pm) until 10th of June.
|BBSRC grant looking at memory persistance
Dr Szu-Han Wang (Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences) has been awarded a BBSRC New Investigator grant to 'Facilitate memory persistence through consolidation and reconsolidation in early, middle, and late adulthood in rat'. Together with a new postdoc fellow, Dr Alexandra Gros, her lab will develop behavioural strategies to improve memory persistence and characterise the cellular networks of the memory (by using catFISH) that is affected by ageing.
|First dementia prevention study recruit!
The European Prevention of Alzheimer's Dementia initiative (EPAD), involves 36 organisations including universities, commercial partners and patient organisations, has just recuited its first participant. Prof Craig Ritchie (Centre for Dementia Prevention) is the joint lead on the project which he team hopes to develop tests to identify early signs of Alzheimer's disease that may indicate when a person is at risk of dementia before symptoms appear.
|Stroke study prompts call for revised treatment guidelines
Doctors should rethink how they treat patients who have suffered the deadliest form of stroke, a clinical trial led by Prof Rustam Al Shahi Salman (Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences) suggests. The study recommends a change in guidelines for treating any patients who have had a stroke caused by bleeding into the brain - known as intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH) - while regularly taking aspirin. Until now, a treatment known as platelet transfusion has been used by some doctors in the hope that it will aid recovery. It had been thought that platelets - blood cell fragments that play a vital role in blood clotting - could block ruptured blood vessels and prevent further bleeding into the brain. However, this study has found that giving platelet transfusions to patients who had suffered an ICH while taking aspirin reduced their chances of recovery.
|Holoxica releases 3D MRI white matter tract brain holographic image
Holoxica, the award-winning 3D holographic company that, until recently, was based at the University of Edinburgh, have just released their first 3D holographic image of the MRI-imaged intricate white matter tracts in the brain. They believe it may be a helpful aid to detecting white matter damage at an earlier stage. We hope they will be bringing it to Neuroscience Day next year, but you can get a feel for it online. Please feel free to get in touch with them if you wish to know more about what they do (email@example.com).
|Never too late to learn
Mental agility can be boosted by even a short period of learning a language, a study suggests. A team from the University of Edinburgh assessed different aspects of mental alertness in a group of 33 students aged 18 to 78 who had taken part in a one-week Scottish Gaelic course.
Researcher’s tracked people’s attention levels with a series of listening tests including the ability to concentrate on certain sounds and switch the attention to filter relevant information. Only one week of study improves a person’s attention and these benefits could be maintained with regular practice. The improvement was found for all ages, from 18 to 78 years, which researchers say demonstrates the benefits of language learning also in later life.
|Support for Collaborative Research on Working Memory
Prof Robert Logie (School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences) together with colleagues from the USA and Switzerland, has secured a grant from Economic and Social Research Council to investigate working memory across the adult lifespan. This four year grant involves three different research teams in three different countries, each of which has developed a different theoretical framework for understanding human working memory, and each has different implications for cognitive changes with age. The groups have agreed on a common programme and each experiment will be run in parallel replications in the different labs. The work undertaken aims to develop a new theory of human working memory that could incorporate elements from all three theoretical positions and to yield significant insight into precisely how different aspects of cognition change across the adult lifespan.
|Neuroyoga: the Science of Yoga and Meditation
Is yoga all in the mind? This was the question that was asked at the sold out Neuroyoga event in the 2016 Edinburgh International Science Festival (jointly sponsored by the Deanery of Biomedical Sciences and Meadowlark Yoga). The event combined a practical yoga session with a panel discussion between leading neuroscientists who asked whether current neuroscience can explain the effects that yoga has on the body and mind. The event was chaired by Dr. Iris Oren, and kicked-off with an introduction to the founding principles of yoga by yoga teacher, Karen Kirkness. This was followed by presentations by three University of Edinburgh neuroscientists whose research is centered on fields in which yoga has been suggested to have benefits. Prof. Megan Holmes reviewed the literature regarding yoga and stress hormones; Prof. Stephen Lawrie discussed the effects of yoga on brain structure and function, while Dr. Richard Chin asked whether yoga has potential as a treatment for epilepsy. The panel discussion was followed by audience questions, and closed with Karen Kirkness leading a yoga session for the audience and panelists.
|World’s biggest body scanning project launched by UK Biobank
The world’s largest £43m health imaging study, funded by the Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, and the British Heart Foundation was launched on 14th of April. Cathie Sudlow, Professor of Neurology and Clinical Epidemiology, is a Chief Scientist of UK Biobank who has played a crucial role in development of the UK Biobank resource over the last several years and was heavily involved in developing the funding proposal for the imaging study. The study will create the biggest collection of scans of internal organs, and transform the way scientists study a wide range of diseases, including dementia, arthritis, cancer, heart attacks and strokes.
|International stroke clinical trial data now available
The third International Stroke Trial was the largest-ever randomised controlled trial of intravenous thrombolysis (clot-busting) treatment for patients with acute ischaemic stroke.
In accordance with published best practice and recommendations, the IST-3 collaborative group has lodged an anonymised version of the dataset with Edinburgh Datashare. Bona fide researchers can now apply for access to the data.
This announcement coincided with a Festschrift that took place on Friday (15th April) to mark the retirement of Professor Peter Sandercock (Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences and former Director of Edinburgh Neuroscience), who led the IST3 Collaborative Group.
|Festschrift for Prof Peter Sandercock
On Friday stroke colleagues from around the world came to Edinburgh to help us celebrate the career of Prof Peter Sandercock (Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences and former Director of Edinburgh Neuroscience). It was a truly enjoyable and friendly day with many non-stroke colleagues from Edinburgh also coming along to find out about his 36 year research career (or the' highs and lows', as he described it). For those who do not know Peter, his clinical trial on the use of aspirin as a first-line treatment for stroke changed practice guidelines worldwide, and were followed by global trials of the thrombolytic drugs tPA and alteplase which are now also in clinical use. Prof Rustam al Shahi Salman, Dr Will Whiteley and Judi Clarke (all Clinical Brain Sciences) organised the day - so many thanks to them for a great job!
|New Neurophysiology Laboratory at Herriot Watt University
New Neurophysiology Laboratory has been opened at the University's Edinburgh Campus with support from the Alzheimer's Society. The Laboratory is being led by Dr Mario Parra Rodriguez, who is a former recipient of a Neuroreserachers Fund in its early years. The laboratory will concentrate on research into the cause, cure, care and prevention of dementia. Its mission is to advance research towards the identification of biological signatures of neurodegeneration in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease using robust, non-invasive, and low cost technologies such as the EEG.
|Project to Test a Novel Strategy for blocking Seizures in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy Secures ERUK Funding
Congratulations to Alfredo Gonzalez-Sulser who obtained an Epilepsy Research UK Fellowship. The project will tet strategies to block seizures through optogenetic manipulation of the medial septum, a brain structure that sends connections specifically to seizure generating brain regions in temporal lobe epilepsy. This three-year fellowship will allow for the establishment of animal models of temporal lobe epilepsy in Edinburgh as well as purchasing of new radio-controlled recording and optogenetic stimulation equipment. A travel grant from the Edinburgh Neuroscience Neuroresearcher grant was critical in improving Alfredo's background in animal model's of epilepsy for this grant application.
|UK-wide partnership to drive stem cell technology in dementia research
Congratulations to Professor Siddharthan Chandran, Director of Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic, and colleagues who have been awarded an MRC Partnership Grant to consolidate a highly collaborative and coordinated partnership for dementia research. The award will bring together all six UK dementia stem cell research centres in the MRC Dementia Stem Cell Network to substantially increase the UK's capacity, productivity and competiveness in dementia stem cell research through the development and application of stem cell technology.
|How do we forget?
Dr Oliver Hardt and his research group have recently published a new article in the Journal of Neuroscience addressing processes underpinning the natural forgetting of long-term memories. The group found that removal of GluA2- containing AMPA receptors from the synapse facilitated forgetting, while blocking these receptors after long-term memory formation extended the natural lifetime of several forms of memory. These findings suggest that forgetting is a result of an active deletion process rather than a failure to remember.
Drugs targeting AMPA receptor removal are already being investigated as potential therapies to prevent memory loss associated with diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems
The Independent (31mar16)
The Scotsman (31mar16)
Daily Mail (31mar16)
||Edinburgh Neuroscience Director News
As of 30th March 2016, Professor Charles ffrench-Constant has stepped down having served in this position for three years and Professor Siddharthan Chandran (Director, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences) has taken over as the new Director of Edinburgh Neuroscience. We would like to thank Charles for his work and extend a warm welcome to Siddharthan.
|2016 Edinburgh Neuroscience Day Takeda poster prizes
Congratulations to our Neuroscience Day 2016 Takeda Poster Prize winners! This year we had 58 posters on display, of which 35 were entered into the PhD student poster competition. Ten judges worked hard to choose a best PhD poster in each category and the winners this year were:
Development and Regeneration: 'Endothelin Receptor B Regulates Myelin Sheath Number' by Matthew Swire, MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine
Cellular and Molecular & Neural Systems: 'Using mouse genetic models to investigate the molecular mechanism of ketamine' by Sarah Lemprière, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences and Centre for Neuroregeneration, and 'Interaction of the Retinitis pigmentosa 2 protein with DNA PKcs and implications for DNA damage response in the retina' by Rodanthi Lyraki, the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine
Neuropathology and Degeneration: 'Pro-inflammatory microglia necroptosis and progenitor-mediated repopulation underpin efficient central nervous system remyelination' by Amy F. Lloyd, Centre for Reproductive Health
Clinical & Cognition: 'Preterm birth is associated with altered social cognition in infancy detected using eye-tracking' by Emma Telford, MRC / Centre for Reproductive Health
Overall winner: Matthew Swire
Peoples Poster Award: 'Neurons, Oxygen and Mighty Worms: A Novel Paradigm for the Exploration of Intrinsic Plasticity in C.elegans' by Nathalie Vladis, Centre for Integrative Physiology
We'd like to extend our gratitude to Takeda Cambridge for their enthusiasm and ongoing support for this poster competition.
|2016 Edinburgh Neuroscience Day 3 minute thesis talk winners
This year has also seen a launch of 3 minute thesis talk competition. 13 PhD students in their 3rd and 4th year bravely volunteered to summarise their PhD findings in just three minutes. Everyone did an amazing job, while Katie Marwick, Centre for Integrative Physiology, presenting 'NMDA receptor channelopathies' and Angela de Bruin, Psychology, asking 'Does bilingualism enhance executive control?' were selected as winners and received £250 each, supported by Edinburgh Neuroscience, to aid their attendance of international scientific meetings.
|Professor Richard Morris standing down from the Directorship of CCNS
Professor Richard Morris CBE, FRS (Director, Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems) and member of staff in the University for 29 years has decided to stand down from the Directorship of CCNS from the end of March and move to part-time employment within the University. This is to enable him to spend more time with his family, based partially in Spain, and to focus his time more on research. There will be a time later to thank him for his service to the University but, for the present, Dr Tara Spires-Jones will assume the post of Interim Director of CCNS.
|2016 Suffrage Science Award to Professor Catherina Becker
Professor Catherina Becker (Director, Centre for Neuroregeneration) has been awarded a 2016 Suffrage Science award. The Suffrage Science scheme recognises ten female scientists and a science communicator, chosen for their scientific achievements and ability to inspire others. Women make up less than one-eighth of science academy membership globally and this award, set up five years ago by the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre at Imperial College London, celebrates women already in science and encourages others to enter scientific subjects, and to stay. Catherina will be presented with her award this evening at a ceremony to mark International Women's Day. The award is a piece of heirloom jewellery handcrafted and designed by Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design and inspired by the jewellery awarded to women of the Suffrage movement in recognition of their campaign for equal voting rights. The ceremony will be attended by Helen Pankhurst, the great granddaughter of Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst and long-standing supporter of the scheme.
MRC Clinical Sciences Centre news
University of Edinburgh news
College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine news
|Edinburgh part of Horizon 2020 grant on Small Vessel Disease (SVD)
€6,000,000 from Research and Innovation Action programme has been awarded to European network of scientists and clinicians. Prof Joanna Wardlaw, an internationally recognised expert in the field of SVD, will be leading the research at the University of Edinburgh. The five-year project aims to identify how SVD contributes to stroke or dementia, and explore new therapeutic approaches. The project will benefit from a new research MRI scanner and a MR-PET scanner, which will be available in Edinburgh later this year.
more info on grant objectives
|2016 Brain Prize awarded to Professor Richard Morris
The 2016 Brain Prize has been awarded to Professor Richard Morris, Director, Centre for Cognitive & Neural Systems and inaugural Director of Edinburgh Neuroscience. This award is shared with two other British neuroscientists - Prof Tim Bliss (Francis Crick Institute, London) and Professor Graham Collingridge (University of Toronto, but fomerly University of Bristol). Many congratulations to Richard on this enormous achievement!
The Brain Prize is awarded by the Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Foundation in Denmark, is regarded as the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for neuroscientists, and is worth one million Euros. Awarded annually, it recognises one or more scientists who have distinguished themselves by an outstanding contribution to neuroscience. This award has been made in recognition of the winners research on 'Long-Term Potentiation' (LTP), a form of neuronal plasticity which underpins life-long plasticity of the brain. Their discoveries have revolutionised our understanding of how memories are formed, retained and lost.
Richard Morris said "I am naturally honoured to receive a share of this Prize. The three of us have worked on one of the "grand challenges" in neuroscience – the fundamental brain mechanisms of learning and memory. It's all been made possible through the longstanding support of the MRC, superb facilities in our wonderful small Centre and the University, great colleagues in the lab and, in Edinburgh Neuroscience, one of the finest neuroscience communities in the world."
Brain Prize link
Centre for Cognitive & Neural Systems
BBC News (01mar16)
ITV News (01mar16)
STV News (01mar16)
Daily Mail (01mar16)
The Scotsman (01mar16)
||ERC Consolidator Grants
Dr. Tara Spires-Jones (Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems) has been awarded a European Research Council Consolidator Award of €2 million over 5 years for her research imaging the synaptic contributors to dementia. Her award will explore the amyloid cascade hypothesis of Alzheimer's disease and investigate how amyloid beta and tau proteins interact in synapse degeneration. This awards reward outstanding young leaders in their field seeking to consolidate their independence - huge congratulations to Tara!
Dr. Tara Spires-Jones
|Island Accents wanted for the Voicebank Research Project
The VoiceBank Project at the Anne Rowling Clinic within the Unversity of Edinburgh, aims to collate a bank of voices from around Scotland. The ultimate aim of the project is that individuals with conditions such as motor neurone disease would be able to use a communication aid that more closely resembles their own voice. A new drive has been launched to encourage people from Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles to donate their voice to this bank.
Anne Rowling Clinic
The Voicebank Research Project
Shetland News (22feb16)
|Edinburgh-based holographic imaging specialist secures funding
Holoxica, a holographic imaging specialist based in Edinburgh, has secured £1 million funding from the European Commission to help develop its pioneering medical imaging technology. The €1.28m funding was awarded by the European Commissions' Horizon 2020 SME Instrument - the largest EU research and innovation funding programme. The funding will be used to develop a prototype video display aimed at medical scanners including CT, MRI or Ultrasound. Dr. Javid Khan (founder and managing director of Holoxica Ltd.) states that the Clinical Research Imaging Centre (CRIC) and the Brain Research Imaging Centre (BRIC) at the University of Edinburgh will both be involved in trialing the prototype.
The Herald Scotland (09feb16)
||Gene study signals brain therapy hope
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences have revealed the cells that are likely to trigger common brain disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, Multiple Sclerosis and intellectual disabilities. Advanced gene analysis techniques were used to investigate which genes were switched on in specific types of brain cells. These genes were then compared to thegenes that are known to be linked to some of the common brain conditions (Alzheimer's disease, anxiety disorders, autism, intellectual disability, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia and epilepsy). It is hoped that this information could help scientists to find new treatment targets for some diseases with a genetic basis.
original article (27jan16)
University of Edinburgh News (27jan16)
BBC Radio Scotland (28jan16 - 1hr17min)
Herald Scotland (27jan16)
BT news online (27jan16)
|Health and thinking skills linked to same genes
Scientists at the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (CCACE) found shared genetic influences between cognitive skills and some physical and mental health states. The study also found that cognitive skills share genetic influences with brain size, body shape and educational attainments. Data from ~100,000 people, held in the UK Biobank, was analysed by an international team led by the University of Edinburgh.
original article (26jan16)
The Times (26jan16)
The Telegraph (26jan16)
Daily Mail online (27jan16)
|Clues on how biological processes are linked to fertility
A study, carried out by the University of Edinburgh and the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology in Germany, has identified the role of a set of proteins (Ctf19) which are key in the prevention of errors during the formation of healthy cells. It is hoped that these results will shed light on the mechanisms involved in the formation of healthy egg cells in humans, and aid understanding of how infertility, stillbirths and birth defects arise.
original article (14dec16)
|UK Blog Award nominations
Research the Headlines has been shortlisted in the 2016 UK Blog Awards in the top 10 in the 'education' category. Across the different categories over 2000 blogs were entered. Research The Headlines is a blog addressing the way in which research is discussed and portrayed in the media. The contributors to Research the Headlines are all members of the Royal Society of Edinburgh's Young Academy of Scotland, and come from the disciplines of science and the humanities, the professions, the arts, business and civil society. Congratulations to the Research the Headlines team!
Research The Headlines
UK Blog Award Finalists
|EU Horizon 2020 Grant Success!
Congratulations to Prof. Joanna Wardlaw (Clinical Brain Sciences) on being awarded a €6,000,000 EU Horizon 2020 grant for a 5-year major project on cerebral small vessel disease as a central cause of stroke and dementia. Joanna is the second applicant on this grant, along with Martin Dichgans (Munich - lead applicant), Anne Joutel (Paris), Mark Nelson (Rochester), Maiken Nedergaard (Copenhagen), Lydia Sorokin (Munster), Peter Rothwell (Oxford), Geert-Jen Biessels (Utrecht) and Robert van Oostenbrugge (Maastricht). The project, which commenced on 1st January 2016, is titled ''Small vessel diseases in a mechanistic perspective: Targets for intervention, affected pathways and mechanistic exploitation for prevention of stroke and dementia'. Congratulations!
|Sue Fletcher-Watson awarded the Margaret Donaldson Prize 2016
Congratulations to Dr. Sue Fletcher-Watson (Clinical Brain Sciences) on being awarded the Margaret Donaldson Prize 2016 for outstanding contributions to developmental psychology. This prize is awarded by The British Psychological Society to a researcher within 10 years of their PhD. Sue has been invitied to deliver a keynote address at the annual conference of the Developmental Section in Belfast this September. Many congratulations!
BPD Developmental Section News
BPS Developmental Section Conference
|Edinburgh Neuroscience article in The Lancet Neurology
An article discussing the Edinburgh Neuroscience Annual Christmas Lectures has been published in The Lancet Neurology. It discusses two 2016 Christmas lectures held in Edinburgh: Professor Craig Ritchie's (Chair of the Psychiatry of Ageing, University of Edinburgh) Alzheimer Scotland Christmas Lecture, and Professor David Porteous' (Chair of Human Molecular Genetics and Medicine, University of Edinburgh) Edinburgh Neuroscience Christmas Lecture. The article is well worth a read!
Please note that there is a typo within the article (5th paragraph: £97.5 should read as £9.75. This is important because, unfortunately, the gulf between cancer funding and mental health funding is larger than the original figure. The Lancet Neurology have been notified of this error.
original article (19jan16)
|Edinburgh Skeptics Podcasts
Dr. Sue Fletcher-Watson (Clinical Brain Sciences) currently features in two recent podcasts on the Edinburgh Skeptics website. In her main podcast she discusses the links between technology, screentime and autism, using a combination of scientific evidence as well as personal testimonies to pick apart the claims made in the papers and expose the truth about the impact of technology on children today. She features in a second, shorter, podcast answering 10 questions about her work and research in her field. You can listen to them both online, or download them as podcast episodes for later listening!
SitP: Believe the Lie: Science Fraud & Credibility (13jan16)
10 Questions: Sue Fletcher-Watson (20jan16)
|Drug found to do little to ease the pain of bone cancer
A randomised double-blind drug trial at the University of Edinburgh found no significant difference in the pain or quality of life experienced by bone cancer patients given the drug and those given a placebo. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and was the lead researcher was Marie Fallon (Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre). The study concludes that although this particular drug (Pregabalin) is increasingly used to treat bone pain caused by cancer, there is no evidence to show that it is beneficial to the patient.
original article (07dec15)
University of Edinburgh News (18jan16)
|Study suggests fresh approach to autism research
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Aberdeen have published the results of a study showing that people who use a lot of expression and gesture in their social communication are more empathetic that those who are less expressive. These results may help to develop ways to improve social communication skills in autism.
original article (20oct15)
University of Aberdeen News (15jan16)
|Risk of bleeding in the brain influenced by location
Approximately 600 people in the UK live with a cavernoma (a cluster of abnormal blood vessels in the brain), but do not show any symptoms. However, these cavernomas can cause intracranial haemorrhages (bleeding inside the skull). Data from over 1600 adults with cavernomas has been analysed to look at the risks associated with this condition. Researchers found that the risk of bleeding in the brain is influenced by the location of the cavernoma and whether the patient has already had a bleed. The hope is that these findings will help both doctors and patients to be able to make informed decisions about their treatment.
original article (01dec15 - Lancet Neurology)
MedPage Today (04dec15)