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Department Buzz

Cover of SOMnewsWhat's the Buzz at the UMSOM?

SOMnews, the official newsletter of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, features stories about the outstanding achievements of School of Medicine faculty in the clinical, education and research arenas.

Part of SOMnewsThe Buzz is a self reported publication highlighting important grants and contracts, journal publications and awards by our faculty. Delivered by hard copy and email, The Buzz features "What's on My Mind," a monthly message from Dean Reece.

SOMnews and Buzz Archives


Honors & Awards

Several colleagues received Graduate Program in Life Sciences (GPILS) and Office of Postdoctoral Scholars (OPS) Awards for 2021: Jason Alipio, Graduate Student, Program in Neuroscience, in the laboratory of Asaf Keller, PhD, Professor and Chair received the PhD Thesis Award.  Cali Calarco, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, in the Laboratory of Dr. Mary Kay Lobo, PhD, Professor, received the Postdoctoral Fellow Excellence in Service award for her exceptional service and commitment to outreach and education to the neuroscience and greater scientific community and  Dr. Mary Kay Lobo received both the Dr. Mark E. Shirtliff PhD Student Mentor Award and the Teacher of the Year award.  They will be recognized in a Zoom ceremony on Monday, October 18, 2021. 

Jeffrey Koenig, Ph.D. -  Asaf Keller's Lab

Has been offered a scholarship under the Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation Scholarship-for-Service Program (SMART). This highly competitive and prestigious scholarship is funded by the Department of Defense. It will provide Jeff not only with a scholarship and other benefits throughout his Ph.D. studies, but also guarantees him employment placement at a DoD facility upon degree completion.

Donna Calu

  • Joined the editorial board, in May 2020, as review editor, for Decision Neuroscience, including Frontiers in Neuroscience and Frontiers in Psychology.
  • Was honored by President Trump, in July 2019, as a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Mary Kay Lobo

  • Was the recipient of the Society for Neuroscience Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award. This is one of five life-time awards that honors the work of dedicated scientists who make an outstanding contribution to the field of neuroscience. The award was announced on November 1, 2021, during the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism NIAAA) Mini-convention where the recipient gives a Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award Lecture. The award is given for research that has led to significant conceptual and empirical contributions to the understanding of drug addiction.
  • Was recently appointed a Reviewing Editor for the Journal of Neuroscience, the official journal for the Society for Neuroscience.
  • Was honored by President Obama as a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Iris Lindberg

  • Was elected an AAAS Fellow in recognition of her achievements in advancing science.  The announcement was made on November 27, 2018.  The induction ceremony will be held at the 2019 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. on February 16, 2019.

Adam C. Puche

  • Adam Puche was elected by the SOM Class of 2022 to receive the Golden Apple Award for Best Pre-Clinical Faculty. The award will be presented to Adam at this year’s School of Medicine Graduation Ceremony. This will be the third Medical Class Graduation award Adam has received. He is also the recipient of four Class Council awards, and a Reagent’s Award.

Marco Venniro

  • Was elected to Associate Member status, effective January 1, 2022, in the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) by the Council of The ACNP at their annual meeting in December 2021.
  • Was selected as a Travel Awardee for the 2021 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) Annual Meeting. He was selected by the ACNP Education and Training Committee to receive this award for the ACNP’s 60th annual meeting which will be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, December 5-8, 2021.

Grants

Asaf Keller

  • Was among the recipients of a $200,000/year UMCP & UMB - Artificial Intelligence + Medicine for High Impact (AIM-HI) Challenge Award for “Precision Therapy for Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome,” effective February 15, 2020.
  • Received a five-year, $2.4 million grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH NINDS), titled "Serotonin and Pain Modulation," effective June 1, 2019.

Adam Puche

  • Received a 5 year, mPI R01 grant “Brain-selective estrogen therapy for menopausal hot flushes in an advanced translational animal model,” with Istvan Merchenthaler.

Ilia Baskakov

  • Received a one-year $250,000 grant from the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) Foundation for “Infectious Etiology of late onset Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Donna Calu

  • Dr. Linda Chang (Diagnostic Radiology) and Dr. Calu were awarded a one-year $100,000 grant from the Focused Ultrasound Foundation entitled, “Focused ultrasound for neuromodulation in the treatment of opioid addiction.” 
  • Sam Bacharach, Graduate Student, Program in Neuroscience, in the laboratory of Donna Calu received a three-year, $38,376 Predoctoral National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIH/NIDA) for "The Role of Cannabinoid Receptor-1 in Modulating Addiction Vulnerability." Joseph Cheer, Professor, was co-sponsor.
  • Five-year $1,931,250 (total costs) R01 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to examine the “Role of basolateral amygdala projections in mediating individual differences in motivation and flexibility.” 
  • Three-year, $300,000 McKnight Memory and Cognitive Disorders Award for her investigation of “Individual Differences in Attention Signaling in Amygdala Circuits.”
  • Two-year $70,000 2016 Young Investigator Grant from The Brain and Behavior Research Fund, for her investigation of the “Role of amygdala projections in the incubation of fear and drug craving.”

Joseph Cheer

  • Received a five-year, $2,213,950, competing continuation R01 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for “Endogenous Cannabinoid Control of Reward Substrates.” Start date: 7/1/2021.
  • Received a five-year, $1,738,125 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA/NIH) for “Cannabinoid Receptor Control of a DRN to VTA Pathway and its Role in the Affective States,” effective March 1, 2019.  Also within Dr. Cheer's lab, Dan Covey, Assistant Professor, was awarded a $1,051,544 K99/R00 award from the NIDA/NIH for “Neural Circuit Control of Mesolimbic Dopamine and Reward,” effective February 2019.
  • Five-year $2,200,000 R01 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to examine the long-term consequences of Ritalin and marijuana exposure in adolescence.

Reha S. Erzurumlu

  • Received a five-year, $2,500,000 renewal of his existing R01 grant “Consequences of developmental defects in somatosensory map formation” from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS/NIH).
  • Received a one-year $381,304 supplement to his existing R01 grant, from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) for “Thalamocortical circuit defects in developmental brain disorders,” effective September 1, 2019.
  • Received a five-year $2,475,313 R01 grant, along with Dr. Elizabeth Powell, from the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) for “Thalamocortical circuit defects in developmental brain disorders.”  The goal of the project is to define sensory thalamocortical synaptic defects in mouse models of Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Megan E. FoxPostdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Mary Kay Lobo

  • Received a two-year K99 $351,584 award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for "Circuit-Specific Molecular Mechanisms in Fentanyl Use and Relapse," effective April 1, 2020.

Iris Lindberg

  • Supplement for NIH grant from the Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative funds  The parent grant is titled: Cyto-ProSAAS Chaperone Action in Alzheimer's Disease and Frontotemporal Dementia.
  • Five-year $2.6 million (direct costs) grant, along with Dr. Nigel Maidment, Co-PI, (UCLA), effective February 1, 2019, from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) for “ProSAAS-mediated neuroprotective mechanisms in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases: The role of secretory chaperones in neurodegeneration.”
  • Five-year R01 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) entitled “Opioid Peptide Synthesizing Enzymes” for 2.1 million dollars (total costs).
  • Two-year, $456,663 grant from NIH and the National Institute on Aging for "The Secretory Chaperone 7B2 as Endogenous Regulator of Amyloid Pathology.”

Mary Kay Lobo

  • Dr. Rianne Campbell, Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Mary Kay Lobo's laboratory, received a three-year, $200,946 Postdoctoral Fellowship (F32) award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for “Investigating the Ventral Pallidum-Ventral Tegmental Area Circuit in Cocaine Relapse."
  • Dr. Lobo received a five-year, $1,780,984 competitive renewal of her grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for "Cocaine-Induced Mitochondrial Mechanisms and Molecular Mediators in Reward Circuity."
  • Cali Calarco, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Mary Kay Lobo, PhD, received a partial year, $44,260, Postdoctoral National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIH/NIDA) to study “The Influence of Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Coactivator - 1 Alpha (PGC-1a) on the Nucleus Accumbens During Cocaine-Self-Administration.” Joseph Cheer, PhD, is co-sponsor.
  • Eric Choi, PhD Student in the Graduate Program in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, currently working in the laboratory of Mary Kay Lobo, PhD, received a three-year, $114,849 F31 Predoctoral National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIH/NIDA) to study “Cell Subtype Transcriptional Role of Nab2 in Cocaine Self Administration."
  • U01 grant from NIDA. This large Cooperative Agreement is titled "Heroin-Induced genomic regulation of Ventral Pallidum neuron subtypes".
  • Five-year $1,617,772 RO1 award from the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) for "Cell Subtype Mechanisms Underlying Stress Susceptibility and Resilience," effective April 1, 2020.
  • Five-year $2,171,420 grant, effective February 1, 2019, from the National Institute of Drug Abuse for “Ventral pallidum molecular mediators in cocaine addiction.”
  • Two-year $60,000 start-up research grant from the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation for “Genetics and physiology of ventral pallidum microcircuits.”  
  • Tree-year $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation on "Focused electrical stimulator for targeted neuromodulation.”
  • Three-year $250,000IMHRO Janssen Rising Star Translational Research Award for “Stabilizing neuronal architecture for Depression therapeutics.”
  • Five-year, $1,918,750 R01 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) for "The Neurocircuitry of Depression: Molecular and Cell Subtype Mechanisms”.
  • Five-year, $1,918,750 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for "Cell Subtype Transcriptional Mechanisms in Cocaine Addition.”

Mervyn Monteiro

  • Received a $2,200,000 RF1 grant for the first 3-year portion of a 5-year $3,654,000 competing continuation grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and National Institute on Aging (NIA) for "Mechanistic Studies and Therapeutics for ALS/FTD Linked to UBQLN2 Mutations."

Dennis Sparta

  • Received a five-year $1,125,000 (direct costs) grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) for the project “CRF Neural Circuits of Binge Drinking,” effective, April 12, 2019.
  • Received a three-year $736,215 continuation award for a K99 grant from the NIH and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism for "The Role of the BNST to VTA Neural Circuit in Binge Alcohol Consumption."

Natalie Zlebnik

  • $1,061,248 K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Grant, effective August 1, 2019, from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA/NIH) for “Effects of exercise on dopaminergic mechanisms of cocaine relapse.”

Publications

Reha Erzurumlu  and his group has published a new paper, Layers 3 and 4 neurons of the bilateral whisker-barrel cortex. Neuroscience, Available online 20 May 2022. In a Robo3 conditional knockout mouse brain, bilateral whisker representations form in the somatosensory thalamus and cortex. Layer 4 spiny stellate cells form much smaller barrels and their dendritic fields are more focalized and less complex, while layer 3 pyramidal cell dendrites are not affected. Bilateral whisker stimulation activates different but neighboring groups of layer 3 neurons, indicating lack of conversion of bilateral whisker inputs in the cortex. 

Dr. Iris Lindberg's group has published a manuscript "Sequestration of TDP-43216-414 Aggregates by Cytoplasmic Expression of the proSAAS Chaperone". ACS Chem Neurosci. 2022 May 12.  doi: 10.1021/acschemneuro.2c00156. Online ahead of print. PMID: 35549000 This paper describes the sequestration of a pathogenic TDP-43 prion-like domain within the core of a self-assembled proSAAS chaperone sphere as well as provides detailed structure-function analysis. Meanwhile, Iris' U. Penn coauthors have demonstrated that proSAAS expression is cytoprotective in a yeast model system.

Dr. Manita Shakya, Postdoctoral Fellow and P.I. Dr. Iris Lindberg, were first and senior authors, respectively, of “The G209R Mutant Mouse as a Model for Human Pcsk1 Polyendocrinopathy,” which was published in Endocrinology on March 4, 2022.

Dr. Joseph Cheer in collaboration with National Institutes of Health (NIH) colleagues, was senior author of "Local Modulation by Presynaptic Receptors Controls Neuronal Communication and Behaviour,"which was published in Nature Reviews Neuroscience on February 28, 2022.

Benjamin Siemsen, PhD, was first author of “A Subset of Nucleus Accumbens Neurons Receiving Dense and Functional Prelimbic Cortical Input are Required for Cocaine Seeking,” which was published in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience on February 2, 2022.

Iris Lindberg, PhD, co-authored “Obesity, POMC, and POMC-processing Enzymes: Surprising Results from Animal Models,” which was selected as a Featured Article and published in Endocrinology on December 1, 2021.

Michy Kelly, PhD, was senior author of “The Role of PDE11A4 in Social Isolation-Induced Changes in Intracellular Signaling and Neuroinflammation,” which was accepted for publication in Frontiers in Pharmacology.

Hayelom Mekonen, PhD, was lead author on “A Silent Epidemic of Gross Congenital Malformations in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia – Hospital-Based Study,” which was published in Scientific Reports on October 26, 2021.

Marco Venniro, PhD, has published another paper Characterization of operant social interaction in rats: effects of access duration, effort, peer familiarity, housing conditions, and choice between social interaction vs. food or remifentanil.


Marco Venniro, PhD, was senior author of “Waving Through the Window: A Model of Volitional Social Interaction in Female Mice,” which was published in Biological Psychiatry on November 9, 2021.

Marco Venniro, PhD, and Kimberly Papastrat, Research Assistant, were among the co-authors of “Factors Modulating the Incubation of Drug and Non-Drug Craving and their Clinical Implications,” which was published in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews on September 28, 2021.  Dr. Venniro was also lead author on “The Protective Effect of Operant Social Reward on Cocaine Self-Administration, Choice and Relapse is Dependent on Delay and Effort for the Social Reward,” which was published in Neuropsychopharmacology on August 16, 2021. 

Iris Lindberg, PhD, coauthored an invited mini-review on “Obesity, POMC, and POMC-processing Enzymes: Surprising Results From Animal Models,” which was published in the December 2021 issue of Endocrinology. 

Michy P. Kelly, PhD, Associate Professor, was senior author of “Aging Triggers an Upregulation of a Multitude of Cytokines in the Male and Especially the Female Rodent Hippocampus but More Discrete Changes in Other Brain Regions,” which published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation on September 22, 2021.

Michy P. Kelly, PhD, Associate Professor, was senior author of “A Genetic Basis for Friendship? Homophily for Membrane-Associated PDE11A-cAMP-CREB Signaling in CA1 of Hippocampus Dictates Mutual Social Preference in Male and Female Mice,” which was published in Molecular Psychiatry on July 28, 2021.

Olga Bocharova, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Kara Molesworth, Laboratory Specialist, Narayan Pandit, Aidan Fisher, and Olga Mychko, Laboratory Technicians, Natallia Makarava, Research Associate and Ilia Baskakov, PhD, Professor, were the authors of “Alzheimer’s Disease-Associated β-Amyloid does not Protect Against Herpes Simplex Virus 1 Infection in the Mouse Brain,” which was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) in July 2021. The publication was selected for the JBC Editors' Pick and covered by ALZFORUM.ORG

Dan Covey, PhD, former Assistant Professor, Edith Hernandez, former Medical Scientist Training Program student, Miguel Lujan, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, all in the laboratory of Joseph Cheer, PhD, Professor,  were the authors of “Chronic Augmentation of Endocannabinoid Levels Persistently Increases Dopaminergic Encoding of Reward Cost and Motivation,” which was published in the Journal of Neuroscience on July 6, 2021.

Manita Shakya, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow and Iris Lindberg, PhD, Professor, were respective first and senior authors on “Mice Lacking PC1/3 Expression in POMC-Expressing Cells Do Not Develop Obesity,” which was published in Endocrinology on March 10, 2021. The paper was selected as a featured article and the authors were invited to submit a mini-review on “Obesity, POMC, and POMC-processing enzymes” on the basis of the article.

Shannon Cole, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Ramesh Chandra, PhD, Assistant Professor, and Mary Kay Lobo, PhD, Professor, were respective co-first and senior authors on “Cocaine-Induced Neuron Subtype Mitochondrial Dynamics through Egr3 Transcriptional Regulation,” which was published in Molecular Brain on June 29, 2021.

Sheila Engi, PhD, Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow, first author, and Natalie Zlebnik, PhD, Assistant Professor, senior author, both in the laboratory of Joseph Cheer, PhD, Professor, were among the co-authors of “Cocaine-induced Increases in Motivation Require 2-arachidonoylglycerol Mobilization and CB1 Receptor Activation in the Ventral Tegmental Area,” which will appear in the August 1, 2021 issue of Neuropharmacology Special Issue on Cannabinoids.

A highly informative review by Donna Calu, PhD and her trainees, Keefer & Gyawali, on projections between BLA and its cortical and striatal targets central to decision-making, and their role in substance use disorder.  

The Packard Center highlighted Dr. Mervyn Monteiro's recent work, showing that increasing the expression of the UBQLN1 gene in a UBQLN2 mouse model of ALS/FTD helped to alleviate some of the behavioral and molecular signs of disease

Drs. Iris Lindberg and Manita Shakya were the authors of “Mouse Models of Human Proprotein Convertase Insufficiency,” which was published in Endocrine Reviews on December 31, 2020.

Vassiliy Tsytsarev and Reha Erzurumlu were among the co-authors of “In Vivo Voltage-Sensitive Dye Imaging of Mouse Cortical Activity with Mesoscopic Optical Tomography,” which was published in Neurophotonics on December 2, 2020. 

Megan Fox, Antonio Figueiredo, Miriam S Menken and Mary Kay Lobo new manuscript: "Dendritic spine density is increased on nucleus accumbens D2 neurons after chronic social defeat". Sci Rep 10: 12393, 2020. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-69339-7

Schneider KN, Sciarillo XA, Nudelman JL, Cheer JF, Roesch MR. Anterior Cingulate Cortex Signals Attention in a Social Paradigm that Manipulates Reward and Shock]. Curr Biol. 2020;S0960-9822(20)31031-9. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2020.07.039

Donna Calu, and her team of talented trainees, published a paper showing that inputs from the amygdala to accumbens differentially regulate behaviors in sign- and goal-tracking rats. The paper appeared in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.

 

A review article by Reha Erzurumlu and Patricia Gaspar “How the barrel cortex became a working model for developmental plasticity. A historical perspective,” commemorating 50 years of the first publication on the barrel cortex in 1970 is in the press, in a special issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Society for Neuroscience.

A review article, "Secreted Chaperones in Neurodegeneration", by Kriti Chaplot, Tim Jarvela, and Iris Lindberg, was just accepted in Frontiers in Aging Neuros

Dr. Donna Calu and her student, Utsav Gyawali, were senior and lead authors, respectively, together with others from the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology and collaborators at NIDA, on a study entitled “Role of BNST CRFR1 receptors in the incubation of fentanyl seeking” that will be published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.

Natallia Makarava, Jennifer Chen-Yu Chang, Kara Molesworth, and Dr. Ilia V. Baskakov were authors of “Posttranslational modifications define the course of prion strain adaptation and disease phenotype,” which was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, June 2, 2020, 10.1172/JCI138677.

Drs. Donna Calu and David Martin, along with others, were senior and lead authors, respectively on “Effects of 5-HT 2A Receptor Stimulation on Economic Demand for Fentanyl After Intermittent and Continuous Access Self-Administration in Male Rats,” in Addiction Biology, 2020 May 26; e12926. doi: 10.1111/adb.12926. Online ahead of print.

Drs. Michel Engeln and Mary Kay Lobo, along with Dr. Ronna Hertzano were among the authors of “Individual Differences in Stereotypy and Neuron Subtype Translatome With TrkB Deletion,” published in Molecular Psychiatry on May 4, 2020.