Dr. Rob Jackson, Director
Center for Neuroscience Research
Director's Message

The Tufts Center for Neuroscience Research (CNR) is celebrating its 8th year as an NIH (NINDS)-funded center on the medical school campus. Having just returned from the Universidad Autónoma de Puebla Mexico, I feel privileged to be at a university with such fantastic resources and facilities. As a neuroscience faculty, we are indeed fortunate to be part of an expanding program with such great facilities. In this newsletter, we welcome new neuroscience departmental faculty, new CNR core managers and describe new equipment and services of the CNR that will be of value to the research programs of many Tufts investigators.

The CNR Imaging Core has undergone significant expansion with the addition of a new Nikon A1 confocal and a Nikon Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (TIRF) microscope, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Alenka Lovy-Wheeler, who was awarded an NIH instrumentation grant for their purchase. The management of the CNR Animal Behavior Core has changed with the addition of Dr. Jennifer Newman, who comes to the center with significant expertise in the behavioral neurobiology of mammals ranging from mice to primates. We welcome Dr. Christine Briggs as the new manager of the CNR Genomics Core; Chris has ample experience in molecular genetics and will work with Dr. Lax Iyer to provide genomics and bioinformatics services to Tufts investigators. The Electrophysiology Core, under the management of Dr. Chuang Du, recently moved to a new home on Arnold 1 and has added new equipment for single cell and slice recordings.

As in previous years, we are happy to continue our support of the CNR Pilot Award program, which funds collaborative efforts among neuroscientists in need of preliminary results for new grant applications. Four Pilot Awards were made in 2010 (see below) and we are currently reviewing applications for next year’s budget year.

We are a successful center because of the hard work and dedication of all participating CNR faculty and staff. It is our good fortune that Ms. Megan Morgove (right) continues to supervise the Administrative Core and all CNR activities. Contact information for all of these individuals is included at the end of this newsletter.

Please take advantage of our core facilities, which are available to all Tufts investigators. For more information about the CNR, you may contact any of the faculty directors or core managers. Our central mission is to support the research efforts of the larger Tufts neuroscience community.

Rob Jackson, Director
Tufts Center for Neuroscience Research

Megan W. Morgove, Administrator
Center for Neuroscience Research

Alenka Lovy-Wheeler, PhD
Imaging Core Manager
Congratulations to Dr. Alenka Lovy-Wheeler!
Our Tufts Imaging Facility manager recently received an NIH shared instrumentation grant for the acquisition of a Nikon A1R-A1 confocal microscope. Together with funds from a supplemental grant to the CNR, Dr. Lovy-Wheeler is adding the confocal and a new Nikon TIRF (total internal refection fluorescence) microscope to the core. As our Leica confocal/2-photon microscope is the most heavily used equipment in the imaging facility, these new instruments will help accommodate even more users with confocal microscopy needs, as well as provide new techniques with the addition of TIRF.
Dr. Lovy-Wheeler in her office, stays close by the new Nikon A1R-A1
confocal and TIRF microscopes

The Nikon confocal has arrived and its setup is near completion. It will be housed in Stearns room 207, in the section adjacent to our Leica confocal/2-photon microscope. Alenka’s office is also located here, where she can keep a close eye on her new scope, and where she is available to show users its capabilities. Alenka had this to say about her award, and the new equipment addition: “It will be exciting for us to explore the live cell techniques now available to us through these new systems!”


HEK 293 cells transfected with a4(RFP)ß3d(pHlourin)
GABAA receptor subunits. Taken by Eydith Comenencia Ortiz
of the Moss Lab using the CNR's new Nikon TIRF system.
*The new confocal has two scanners; a traditional point scanner and a resonant scanner capable of fast image acquisition allowing the capture of dynamic cellular events and reducing scanning time for z-stack acquisitions.

*In addition, it has an automated stage useful for easy stitching of multiple image fields, and for multi-point acquisition over time.

*The TIRF system can image 100 nm near the coverslip (5-fold more “z” resolution than the confocal), but the specimen must be closely adhered to the coverslip and mounted in an aqueous medium.

*The TIRF system can be used in combination with wide-field fluorescence as both are controlled through the same Nikon Elements software making it possible to acquire interleaved time sequences using these methods.

*The system comes with two cameras, one used for high signal high resolution images (Hamamatsu Orca R2 ), and an EM gain camera used for low signal imaging (Andor iXon-EM).

*Finally, both the confocal and TIRF are set up with the Perfect Focus mechanism to control focus drift, with differential interference contrast (DIC) and the ability to image with 5 % CO2 and at 37 º C.


  •    » In addition to confocal microscopy, the Tufts Imaging Facility (TIF) provides laser capture microdissection, and spinning disk confocal microscopy.

  •    » Also part of the Imaging Core is a Zeiss Axioplan microscope located in Arnold 309. This instrument is configured for fluorescence microscopy, brightfield and differential interference contrast (DIC) imaging, and has image acquisition capabilities.

  •    » Users of the imaging facility are asked to stay current on Imaging Facility Updates by reading the blog (see link below). This is where the status of equipment is reported, whether the configuration of the Leica confocal is upright or inverted, and the date that data will be erased from the hard drive (every two weeks). If technical assistance is required during a usage period, please email Alenka before reserving a time.

The Animal Behavior Research Core (ABRC)

Jennifer Newman, PhD
Behavior Core Manager

Example of the Multiple Body Points Module
in our upgraded EthoVision XT videotracking software

We recently upgraded our video tracking software, and aqcuired "EthoVision XT v7" from Noldus. The Multiple Body Points Module has been upgraded in this latest version of EthoVision XT with an additional rotation calculation method based on body-axis. A Multiple Arena Module is included as well.
Welcome to our new Behavior Core Manager, Dr. Jennifer Newman!

Jennifer has taken the reigns of the busy animal behavior core, and we are thrilled to welcome her to the CNR family. Dr. Newman obtained her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2005 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry Research at the University of Minnesota in 2007. Before coming to Tufts, Jenn held a junior faculty position at Harvard Medical School, and oversaw multiple behavioral research projects at McLean Hospital in the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Center. She has experience working with both rodent and primate models.

The aim of the CNR Behavior Core is to train researchers and provide behavioral assays services to neuroscientists. Using behavioral preparations that can assess motor, sensorimotor, cognitive and emotional functions, the Core provides behavioral models for neuropsychiatric disorders that include anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, aggression, schizophrenia, and memory impairment. The Behavior Core is available to help in all steps of the experiments, including consultation for selection of the most appropriate assays, experimental design, the actual assay, data analysis and graphical portrayal.

The ABRC is located within the Department of Laboratory Animal Medicine on the third floor of the South Cove building (SC379), and consists of a rat housing room, a mouse housing room, a surgery room, and 3 testing rooms. Rooms and equipment can be reserved at this link.


With the funds provided by a recent NIH equipment supplement award, the Behavior Core has just acquired a running wheel system by Phenome Technologies. This new equipment includes 12 cages in a light-tight, ventilated cabinet for monitoring mouse locomotor activity (shown here).


The CNR Genomics Core

Christine (Chris) Briggs, PhD
Genomics Core Manager
Lakshmanan Iyer, PhD
Genomics Core Sr. Manager/Bioinformaticist
NEXT GENERATION SEQUENCING: Up and coming tool for biomedical research

The CNR is committed to providing access to the latest technology for Tufts Neuroscience researchers. For Neuroscience projects, the CNR Genomics core will provide help with experimental design and downstream analysis.
Experiments will be carried out at the Tufts University Core Facility. Neuroscientists are encouraged to apply for a core award or pilot grant to help bootstrap these costly projects.

Read distribution for a gene from a recent RNASeq study

Contact Lax Iyer for more information!
Welcome to Dr. Christine Briggs, the new CNR Genomics Core Manager!

Christine earned her Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology in 1994 at Boston University. She was the Director of the Genetics Core Facility at Children’s Hospital in Boston for 6 years, and recently oversaw the development of Progenika Inc.’s molecular diagnostic facility.

Along with Christine, the CNR Genomics Core is managed by Dr. Lax Iyer and directed by Dr. Alan Kopin. The mission of the core is to provide investigators with tools and services for keeping up with the never-ending flow of biological data.  We are always happy to assist users with any of their computational needs.  Whether it be querying online resources, sequence analysis, statistical analysis, data mining, or just to discuss new project ideas, we're always happy to help.  We also have a number of software licenses including, Ingenuity Pathway Analysis, S-Plus, and various other online databases. 

Within the CNR Genomics Core, located in Stearns, Room 207A, is our Expression Array Facility. This facility is equipped with instruments and expertise for conducting gene expression studies. It contains instruments for nucleic acid analysis (Nanodrop and Agilent Bioanalyzer), and two Q-PCR machines (Stratagene real-time cyclers). There is a separate sign-up calendar for using the Q-PCR that can be accessed both through the CNR and the Neuroscience Department websites.


  • Welcome Dr. Tanya Logvinenko!
    Dr. Logvinenko, an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Tufts Medical Center, will be dedicating one day a week to Bioinformaticis analysis support in the Genomics Core. Dr. Logvinenko has been a part of the Biostatistics Research Center at the Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies at Tufts Medical Center since 2007.
  • Gene Expression Analysis on the rise
    Our continued collaboration with the Yale Center for Genome Analysis (W.M. Keck Foundation) continues to be a success, and is a resource being used more and more by Tufts researchers for their microarray analysis needs. Researchers can drop off their samples at our facility, and with our negotiated Tufts pricing, we will arrange for experiments to be carried out at Yale, and provide analysis of your data.
  • Ingenuity Pathways Analysis (IPA)
    We have again renewed our license for this valuable analysis tool, which is available to all CNR users.
  • Thank You
    We are grateful for the help and support from the Rios Lab, German Calderon; and the Reijmers Lab, Dr. Josh Ainsley and Kara Kittelberger, during the transition period between core managers.

Periodically check the Genomics core websitefor updates as new tools are developed. For further questions, please contact Lax or Chris at Lax.Iyer@tufts.edu or Christine.Briggs@tufts.edu, respectively.

The Electrophysiology and Biophysics Core Facility (EBCF)

Chuang Du
Electrophysiology Core Manager
Under the able day-to-day management of Dr. Chang Du, and the direction of Dr. Kathy Dunlap, the CNR’s EBCF provides equipment, expertise, and training to non-electrophysiologists interested in using these methods to broaden their own research programs. Currently, the EBCF has been helping new Neuroscience Faculty with their research projects. Haruki Higashimori from Dr. Yang’s lab has been using the core to label and record from astrocytes in mouse brain slices. The Moss lab has also been among the most active researchers of the core, using both the dissociated cell and the slice setups.

New Equipment is Here!!!
EBCF's new field/single cell slice recording rig
made possible by a recent NIH equipment supplement
After last Winter’s move to Arnold 106 in the M&V complex, the CNR’s EBCF is settling in nicely to its new environment. With the funds provided by an NIH supplement grant, a new field/single cell slice recording rig has been added to the group of setups (shown here). All three setups are all operational in the core: one dissociated cell patch-clamp setup, and two single cell slice recording setups. With the recent NIH funding, we were able to equip all existing setups with epifluorescence capability.


  • We are planning to add a state of the art Sutter micro-manipulator system to the dissociated cell patch-clamp setup. This will be an upgraded replacement of the current manual system.
  • The core also has a video stereo dissection system available. This is a useful tool for teaching dissection. Contact Chuang Du for more details.

For more information about EBCF's current and future services, fee structure, etc., please visit the electrophysiology core website or call Kathy Dunlap (6-4010) or Chuang Du (6-6988).


Three exciting new labs have recently joined the Tufts Neuroscience Department! The CNR welcomes these new faculty who bring diverse knowledge and experience as well as great personality to the Neuroscience family. Below is a brief introduction and fun facts to know about these fresh faces in our department.
Chris Dulla, PhD
Assistant Professor, Neuroscience
The work in the Dulla Lab focus on understanding neuronal network function using imaging and electrophysiological techniques. Specifically his lab is very interested in how cortical networks process information and how they generate pathological activity in diseases like epilepsy. Chris comes to Tufts after completing a post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford University School of Medicine with Dr. John Huguenard and a Ph.D. at University of Colorado with Dr. Kevin Staley. Always interested in developing novel techniques, Chris brings with him to Tufts an exciting new imaging modality that allows near real-time imaging of the neurotransmitter glutamate. Outside the lab Chris loves camping, cooking Mexican food (which is sorely lacking in Boston), and can throw a tennis ball with his toes.

Jamie Maguire, PhD
Assistant Professor, Neuroscience
A major focus of the Maguire Lab is investigating the GABAergic control of the body’s stress response. Jamie started researching the regulation of GABAA receptors (GABAARs) by steroid hormones, including stress-derived steroid hormones, as a postdoc in Dr. Istvan Mody’s lab at UCLA. Currently, her lab is undertaking a series of experiments to determine whether dysregulation of the stress response, resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones, is sufficient to induce depression-like behaviors in mice. Several unique mouse models with deficits in the GABAergic regulation of the HPA axis have been generated, which are now being extensively characterized in the CNR's Behavioral Core Facility. Jamie is also collaborating with Leon Reijmers in a project supported by a CNR Pilot Award (see below) which investigates whether different neuronal networks are activated by different types of stressors.

Yongjie Yang, PhD
Assistant Professor, Neuroscience
Yongjie Yang comes to Tufts from the Neurology Department at John Hopkins University. He brings with him a research interest in the implications of abnormal communication between neurons and astrocytes on neurodegenerative disease pathophysiology. Yongjie's lab is currently focusing on the astroglial glutamate transporter (EAAT2/GLT1) regulation, molecular mechanisms of neuron and astrocyte interaction in both ways, and how this interaction is altered in neurodegenerative diseases/neural injuries, such as motor neuron disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Epilepsy. The Yang Lab's work impressively spans across all CNR Cores, as a variety of genetic, biochemical, pharmacologic, cell biological, and image techniques are used for their projects.



The CNR Pilot Award has been in place for six years now, and is awarded to support collaborative projects amongst Tufts neuroscientists, particularly with a view to gathering preliminary data that might eventually contribute to an NIH grant submission. As always, we would like to thank the Office of the Vice Provost and the Medical Dean's Office for their generous funding that makes this effort to foster collaborative research a possibility. The 2010 recipients are as follows:

Dr. Kathleen Dunlap and Dr. Alan Kopin were awarded Pilot funds this year to support their project entitled "Constitutively active mu-opioid receptors as novel analgesics." The project involves exploring a means of separating the analgesic from the addictive properties of opiates via the targeted spinal expression of genetically engineered µORs that maintain persistent G protein signaling in the absence of agonist. Using assays of acute pain sensitivity, analgesic efficacy will be tested in the CNR Behavior Core Facility. These pilot studies will set the stage to further optimize the next generation of constructs that could prove to be a therapeutic alternative to systemic opiates for treating chronic pain. Dr. Rob Jackson and Dr. Akiko Hata are collaborating on a project entitled, “Circadian control of neuronal protein synthesis." They will study the mechanisms governing rhythmic translation of RNAs and test the hypothesis that there is broad regulation of neuronal protein translation by the clock. Microarray-based or NextGen sequencing studies will be carried out in the CNR Genomics Core, and Q-PCR equipment in the core will be used as well. This project will provide a framework for thinking about how the clock interfaces with translational regulatory mechanisms, and for exploring the roles of RNA-binding proteins and microRNAs in the circadian control of translation.
Dr. Jamie Maguire and Dr. Leon Reijmers were awarded Pilot funds for their collaborative project, "Identifying subsets of neurons mediating different types of stress." Their research will examine whether unique subsets of neurons control the body’s response to different types of stressors.  Results will provide insight into the regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which has significant therapeutic potential for disorders such as epilepsy and major depression. Activated neurons in response to the different types of stressors will be imaged using the CNR Imaging Core Facility. Drs. Robin Kanarek, Kristen D’Anci, Joseph DeBold, Maribel Rios, and Patricia Allen received a Pilot Award for their collaborative work on the project, “Mechanisms Underlying Sex-Specific Effects of Chronic Creatine Supplementation on Depression-like Behavior in Rats.” These researchers will use an animal model of depression-like behavior in rats to better understand the role of dietary creatine in affective disorders. Specifically, they will examine whether creatine influences protein levels or expression of BDNF, and whether it does so in a sex-specific manner. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis will be performed in the CNR Genomics Core to measure BDNF mRNA levels in isolated frontal and hippocampal samples.

Congratulations to the recipients of this year's Pilot awards! Interested in submitting an application for the next cycle of awards? Please check the CNR website for dates and more detailed information. All questions concerning the awards can be directed to the Center Administrator.

Core Awards 2010
In 2007 the CNR started a new award mechanism - the Core Award - which is also meant to support neuroscientists in their efforts to obtain sufficient evidence to prepare data for a grant submission. The major differences between the Core and Pilot Awards are as follows:
  •    » The Core Awards can ONLY be used to pay for core services at the CNR and/or at the Tufts Molecular Facility (mass spectrometry).
  •    » The Core Awards are smaller and limited to $3,000 per recipient
  •    » The Core Awards have a rolling deadline, i.e. researchers may apply any time during the year.

In 2010, Melissa Donovan and Dr. Alain Charest were given a core award to support their research which studies perivascular migration of glioblastoma multiforme tumor cells. from these animals using laser capture microdissection (LCM) and microarray analysis

For more information on the core awards, please visit the CNR website.

Recent CNR Publications (selected list)
* please note that individuals outside of Tufts network may not be granted free access to the articles below.

Abramian AM, Comenencia-Ortiz E, Vithlani M, Tretter EV, Sieghart W, Davies PA, Moss SJ (2010). Protein kinase C phosphorylation regulates membrane insertion of GABAA receptor subtypes that mediate tonic inhibition. Journal of Biological Chemistry 285(53):41795-805.

Akten B, Tangredi MM, Jauch E, Roberts MA, Ng F, Raabe T, Jackson FR (2009). Ribosomal s6 kinase cooperates with casein kinase 2 to modulate the Drosophila circadian molecular oscillator. Journal of Neuroscience 29(2):466-75.

Geiger BM, Haburcak M, Avena NM, Moyer MC, Hoebel BG, Pothos EN (2009). Deficits of mesolimbic dopamine neurotransmission in rat dietary obesity. Neuroscience 159(4):1193-9.

Cordeira JW, Frank L, Sena-Esteves M, Pothos EN, Rios M (2010). Brain-derived neurotrophic factor regulates hedonic feeding by acting on the mesolimbic dopamine system. Journal of Neuroscience 30(7):2533-41.

Graham CE, Basappa J, and Vetter DE (2010). A corticotropin-releasing factor system expressed in the cochlea modulates hearing sensitivity and protects against noise-induced hearing loss. Neurobiol Dis. (Epub ahead of print, PMID: 20109547.

Graham CE, Vetter DE (2011). The mouse cochlea expresses a local hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal equivalent signaling system and requires corticotropin-releasing factor receptor 1 to establish normal hair cell innervation and cochlear sensitivity. Journal of Neuroscience 31(4):1267-78.

Hone AJ, Whiteaker P, Mohn JL, Jacob MH, McIntosh JM (2010). Alexa Fluor 546-ArIB[V11L;V16A] is a potent ligand for selectively labeling alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Journal of Neurochemistry114(4):994-1006.

Jackson FR (2010). Glial cell modulation of circadian rhythms. Glia 2010 Dec 1. [Epub ahead of print]

Kowalski JR, Dahlberg CL, Juo P (2011).The deubiquitinating enzyme USP-46 negatively regulates the degradation of glutamate receptors to control their abundance in the ventral nerve cord of Caenorhabditis elegans. Journal of Neuroscience 31(4):1341-54.

Maison SF, Liu XP, Vetter DE, Eatock RA, Nathanson NM, Wess J, Liberman MC (2010).Muscarinic signaling in the cochlea: presynaptic and postsynaptic effects on efferent feedback and afferent excitability. Journal of Neuroscience 30(19):6751-62.

Maron JL, Johnson KL, Parkin C, Iyer L, Davis JM, Bianchi DW (2010). Cord blood genomic analysis highlights the role of redox balance. Free Radical Biology & Medicine 49(6):992-6.

Murthy V, Taranda J, Elgoyhen AB, and Vetter DE (2009). Activity of nAChRs containing alpha9 subunits modulates synapse stabilization via bidirectional signaling programs. Developmental Neurobiology 69: 931-949.

Ng FS, Tangredi MM, Jackson FR (2011).Glial cells physiologically modulate clock neurons and circadian behavior in a calcium-dependent manner. Current Biology 21(8):625-34.

Rajagopal S, Ji Y, Xu K, Li Y, Wicks K, Liu J, Wong KW, Herman IM, Isberg RR, Buchsbaum RJ (2010).Scaffold proteins IRSp53 and spinophilin regulate localized Rac activation by T-lymphocyte invasion and metastasis protein 1 (TIAM1). Journal of Biological Chemistry 285(23):18060-71.

Rosenberg MM, Yang F, Mohn JL, Storer EK, Jacob MH (2010).The postsynaptic adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) multiprotein complex is required for localizing neuroligin and neurexin to neuronal nicotinic synapses in vivo. Journal of Neuroscience 30(33):11073-85.

Turcan S, Slonim DK, Vetter DE (2010). Lack of nAChR Activity Depresses Cochlear Maturation and Up-Regulates GABA System Components: Temporal Profiling of Gene Expression in alpha9 Null Mice. PLos One 5: e9058.

Yang YL, Buck GA, Widmer G (2010).Cell sorting-assisted microarray profiling of host cell response to Cryptosporidium parvum infection. Infection and immunity 78(3):1040-8.

Yang YL, Serrano MG, Sheoran AS, Manque PA, Buck GA, Widmer G (2009).Over-expression and localization of a host protein on the membrane of Cryptosporidium parvum infected epithelial cells. Molecular and biochemical parasitology 168(1):95-101.


Contact Us

We welcome your comments, suggestions and questions regarding our newsletter! Please direct them to the Center Administrator.

CNR Directors
Dr. F. Rob Jackson
Director and Principal Investigator, CNR
Co-Director, Imaging Core
Stearns 329
Dr. Michele Jacob
Co-Director, Imaging Core
Stearns 327
Dr. Alan Kopin
Director, Genomics Core
Tupper 7
Dr. Kathleen Dunlap
Director, Electrophysiology Core
Stearns 209
Dr. Klaus Miczek
Director, Behavior Core
Bacon Hall 102C (Medford)

CNR Core Personnel
Dr. Christine Briggs
Manager, Genomics Core
Stearns 207
Dr. Chuang Du
Manager, Electrophysiology Core
Arnold 106b
Dr. Lakshmanan Iyer
Bioinformaticist/ Sr.Genomics Core Manager
Stearns 331
Dr. Alenka Lovy-Wheeler
Manager, Imaging Facility
Stearns 207D
Dr. Jennifer Newman
Manager, Behavior Core
Stearns 331
Dr. Shui-Ying Ng
Epifluorescence Microscopy Technician, Imaging Core
Arnold 305
Megan W. Morgove
Center Administrator
Stearns 301
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