SUNY Brain Undergraduate Summer Scholars 2015 RFP

SUNY Brain Network of Excellence Undergraduate Research
Summer Scholars Program
Application Deadline: February 16, 2015
Term Period: (approximately) June, 1, 2015 – August 7, 2015
SUNY and the Research Foundation for SUNY (RF) created the SUNY Networks of Excellence to facilitate systemwide collaboration and partnerships to share expertise and assets for innovative advances in research. By bringing
together the varied expertise disbursed across the state into a collective network, SUNY can better leverage itself to
become a more prominent national and international scientific leader, grow the number of research applications and
awards, and educate the next-generation workforce.
The SUNY Brain Network of Excellence (BNE) is designed to maximize interdisciplinary and collaborative
neuroscience research across the SUNY campuses and facilitate partnerships with academia, industry, and the
community. The BNE will supports research in two areas: 1) Fostering basic, translational and clinical research
programs and partnerships that will create new knowledge and accelerate discovery in neuroscience research,
and 2) Neuroscience education and research experiences for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)
undergraduates within SUNY.
With funding provided by the RF, the SUNY Brain leadership team has created the SUNY Brain Summer Scholars
Program to bring together undergraduate students who are considering a career in research and SUNY faculty who
conduct research in neuroscience. No background in biology, life sciences or neuroscience is required for the
program. We also encourage applications from students in engineering, physics and computation majors. The
Summer Scholars Program is a ten week program that spans from June 1 to the first week of August 2015. PLEASE
NOTE THAT PROGAM DATES VARY SLIGHTLY BY CAMPUS. Information about program dates can be found
below. Students are placed in research laboratories at University at Albany, Binghamton University, University at
Buffalo, Downstate Medical University, SUNY College of Optometry, Stony Brook University, and Upstate Medical
Stipend: $3,500
Housing will be provided at most SUNY campuses. Housing cannot be provided at SUNY College of Optometry in
Manhattan and a $1500 housing allowance can be provided for students at who work at SUNY College of Optometry
Applicants must be presently enrolled in a SUNY institution and have completed 4 semesters of college.
(Preference will be given to applicants in their Junior year at the time of application. Students graduating in
May 2015 are not eligible.)
Underrepresented minority students are encouraged to apply.
A brief personal statement in which the student discusses the reasons he/she wishes to participate in the
A copy of the student’s undergraduate transcripts.
A confidential letter of recommendation from a professor or other professional (sent directly from the
recommender) that discusses the student’s potential for a research career.
Ranking of top four research locations from opportunities listed on the following pages.
Completed applications and supporting documents must be submitted by February 16 2015.
Applicants will be notified of the status of their acceptance by March 9, 2015.
Please go to the following link to apply for the SUNY Brain Summer Scholars Program:
You will be prompted to create an account, for which your first name, last name, email address, and mailing address
will be requested. Once you’ve created your account, you may click on the ‘Apply’ link under the ‘Requests’ tab on
the left-hand side of the screen. To access the Brain Summer Scholars Program application, enter the code
“BNESUMMER” into the access code box.
Please view the editorial provided on pages 14-15 of this RFP.
Descriptions and locations of the opportunities that are available in 2015 program are listed on the following pages.
Applicants are required to select their top four choices in the online application.
For further information, please contact Angela Wright at [email protected] or (518) 434-7061.
List A:
University at Albany
Program: REU
6/1 – 8/7/15
Annalisa Scimemi
Department of Biology
My lab is interested in developing novel computational tools to analyze the structure of synapses and the behavior of
mouse models of neuropsychiatric disorders. The other experimental approaches used in the lab include
electrophysiology, molecular biology and two photon calcium imaging. For more info, visit the website:
Binghamton University
Program: SSAP
8 weeks June-July
Patricia M Dilorenzo
Department of Psychology
My research interests lie in the area of neural coding in sensory systems. Using the gustatory system as a model, my
graduate students and I have pursued two separate but interrelated strategies. First, we have presented the system
with an array of natural stimuli, i.e. examples of various taste qualities, and recorded the electrophysiological
responses from taste-sensitive neurons in anesthetized and awake, freely-licking rats. By the analysis of the spike
trains evoked in small groups of simultaneously recorded neurons, we have been able to deduce some of the
interrelationships among taste cells that produce their characteristic sensitivity patterns. As part of this effort, we
have proposed a neural network model of taste processing in the brain stem. Although it is still evolving, our model
demonstrates the possibility that some of the well-studied features of taste-responsive neurons may actually be
emergent properties of network processing, rather than intrinsic characteristics. As a second, complimentary strategy
we have driven taste-related neurons with electrical pulses presented in a temporal sequence that mimics the
temporal pattern of the neural response to a natural tastant. We then assess the evoked sensation in terms of its
similarity to a natural taste. By systematically varying the temporal parameters of this artificial stimulus, i.e., the
electrical stimulation, we hope to discover which aspects of the neural response evokes the various characteristics of
a taste perception.
Downstate Medical Center
Program: Summer Research Program for Undergraduates
8 weeks June-July
Youping Xiao
Department of Ophthalmology
The primate visual system is comprised of more than 30 cortical areas and sub-cortical structures, each of which is
comprised of multiple layers. It is one of the most challenging questions in neuroscience that how this multi-stage
system processes information received by the eyes and produces our visual perception. Dr. Xiao's laboratory tackles
this question by studying the neural mechanism of color vision. He has previously discovered hue maps in visual
areas V1 and V2 (Xiao et al., 2003, 2007). These hue maps are likely the origin of hue maps in higher visual areas
where electrical stimulation elicits the precept of specific colors. Using 64-channel electrode recoding system and
computational approaches, Dr. Xiao's lab is currently addressing how the multi-layer circuit in V1 constructs the hue
maps, what features are added to hue maps in higher areas, and how the addition or refinery is computed by the
neural circuits. Answers to these questions are crucial for the understanding of function of different areas and layers,
which in turn is important for diagnosis and treatment of cortical deficits and the development of neural prosthesis. In
addition, his lab is developing cortical visual prosthesis with optogenetics. This novel approach has enormous
therapeutic potential for blind patients, especially those without a functioning retina. A summer student will learn
cutting-edge technologies of electrophysiology and brain imaging, and contribute to quantitative data analyses.
Xiao Y, Wang Y, Felleman DJ. A spatially organized representation of color in macaque area V2. Nature 2003;
Xiao Y, Casti A, Xiao J, Kaplan E. Hue maps in primate striate cortex. NeuroImage 2007; 35: 771-786.
SUNY College of Optometry
Program: CSTEP
8 weeks June-July
Please note that housing is not available at this campus.
Jose-Manuel Alonso
Department of Biological Sciences
My laboratory is interested in understanding how visual information is represented in the brain. Visual processing is
mediated by two major brain pathways that signal light increments (ON) and decrements (OFF) in the visual scene.
In mammals, ON and OFF channels remain segregated in thalamus and combine for first time in visual cortex,
however, the ON-OFF mixing is not complete; it is partial and unbalanced. Our work demonstrates that ON and OFF
pathways remain partially segregated in cortex and that the OFF pathway makes stronger connections and occupies
a larger territory in the cerebral cortex than the ON pathway. Moreover, we found that cortical responses to dark
stimuli (e.g. a fly in the blue sky) are stronger, faster, more linearly related to luminance contrast and have better
spatial and temporal resolution than responses to light stimuli (e.g. a star in the night). Finally, our recent results
indicate that the dominance of the OFF pathway is continuously adjusted based on the spatial frequency content of
the visual scene (e.g. the OFF dominance increases when you remove your glasses and images become blurred).
These results suggest that the visual cortex processes images very differently from human-made algorithms that are
regularly applied to astronomy, medicine and telecommunication. While human-made algorithms extract all possible
combinations of dark and light stimuli in the visual scene, the visual cortex gives priority to dark stimuli and
continuously adjusts its image processing algorithms based on the statistics of the visual scene.
Summer students will be involved in analysis of visual responses from large populations of neurons in visual cortex
and/or psychophysical experiments that aim to demonstrate the consequences of dark/light asymmetries in vision
and to guide the development of new diagnostic tools for visual disease.
Some relevant references to read are:
1) Kremkow, J., J. Jin, S. J. Komban, Y. Wang, R. Lashgari, X. Li, M. Jansen, Q. Zaidi and J. M. Alonso (2014).
Neuronal nonlinearity explains greater visual spatial resolution for darks than lights. Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111(8): 3170-5. PMCID: 3939872. This paper received
extensive press coverage. It was in Google News for three days, ranked second after the press release and as ‘most
popular’ on the second day. PNAS ranks the online impact of this paper on the top 99% compared to all 20,600
articles published in this Journal. See metrics in
2) Komban, S. J., J. Kremkow, J. Jin, Y. Wang, R. Lashgari, X. Li, Q. Zaidi and J. M. Alonso (2014). Neuronal and
perceptual differences in the temporal processing of darks and lights. Neuron 82(1): 224-34. PMCID: 3980847.
3) Wang, Y., J. Jin, J. Kremkow, R. Lashgari, S. J. Komban and J. M. Alonso (2014). Columnar organization of
spatial phase in visual cortex. Nature neuroscience. PMID: 25420070.
4) Jin, J. Z., Weng, C., Swadlow, H.A., Alonso, J.M. (2011) Population receptive fields from ON and OFF thalamic
inputs to an orientation column in cat visual cortex Nature Neuroscience 14(2): 232-8. News and Views associated to
this paper: Ringach, D. L. (2011). You get what you get and you don't get upset. Nature Neuroscience 14(2): 123-4.
Martinez, L.M. (2011). A new angle on the role of feedforward inputs in the generation of orientation selectivity in
primary visual cortex. J. Physiol. 589(12): 2921-2.
5) Jin, J. Z., C. Weng, C. I. Yeh, J. A. Gordon, E. S. Ruthazer, M. P. Stryker, H. A. Swadlow and J. M. Alonso (2008).
On and off domains of geniculate afferents in cat primary visual cortex. Nature Neuroscience 11(1): 88-94. PMCID:
2556869. (Cover of this Nature Neuroscience issue and cover that represented Nature Neuroscience in the 2009
Calendar of Nature Journals).
Stewart Bloomfield
College of Optometry
The work in our laboratory is directed at understanding the cellular mechanisms of information processing and
neuronal communication in the retina. We use a wide range of techniques including patch clamp and multi-electrode
array recordings, confocal and multi-photon microscopy, immunocytochemistry, and visual behavior using a number
of transgenic and gene knockout mouse models. Recently my lab has focused on the role of gap junctions and
electrical synaptic transmission in the retina showing that they play a multitude of important roles in image processing
including contrast sensitivity, neural adaptation, as well as multiplexing of visual information across the optic nerve.
We also carry out translational research on the role of gap junctions in secondary cell death associated with a variety
of neurodegenerative diseases of the retina including ischemic retinopathy and glaucoma. We are currently
examining whether gap junctions form a novel therapeutic target to protect neurons and thereby preserve vision in
subjects with retinal neurodegenerative disease. Finally, we are studying the genetic and environmental factors that
lead to the onset and progression of myopia (nearsightedness) that affects nearly 40% of adolescents in the U.S.
There are thus numerous research opportunities for a summer student to engage in basic and/or translational
research projects in the lab.
Stony Brook University
Program: URECA
June 1 – Aug 7, 2015
Christine DeLorenzo
Department of Psychiatry
The Center for Understanding Biology using Imaging Technology (CUBIT) is a laboratory dedicated to understanding
the neurobiology of mental illness. Because diseases such as depression, bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD) and others are complex, heterogeneous illnesses, they require a greater understanding of the brain
in order to improve diagnosis and treatment. We obtain this increased understanding using multimodal imaging,
including Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) methods. PET allows the
visualization and quantification of neurotransmitter systems. MRI provides high-resolution images of brain structure.
The BNE summer student will learn the techniques used to acquire and analyze PET and MRI images. They will
then apply image processing and engineering techniques to combine information from multiple imaging modalities to
uncover the biological differences associated with depression and other disorders.
Andrew Goldfine
Department of Neurology
I'm a neurologist at Stony Brook Medicine interested in recovery of cognitive and behavioral deficits after stroke and
traumatic brain injury. My work primarily involves multi-modal brain imaging (EEG, MRI, PET) on patients during the
recovery process to better understand the dysfunctional brain networks underlying their abnormal behavior /
I have multiple projects in mind that would be relevant to the fields mentioned in the announcement. For example, my
main modality is quantitative EEG. This is a very powerful tool that allows us to look at brain function in real time, and
at the patient's bedside (I study patients who are hospitalized for an acute stroke). Despite EEG being around for 100
years, it's role as a brain imaging tool is still in it's infancy and there is a large need for engineering / computer
science / physics approaches to improve the analysis pipeline and develop new analytical approaches. One project
could be to develop a real-time analysis tool to look at dysfunctional brain areas in patients with acute stroke. There
is data now that suggests this can identify patients having progression of stroke (a medical emergency), and that the
EEG can identify it possibly hours before a nurse can. If a student was more interested in developing new analytic
approaches, that would also be an option for them.
I also am doing work with MRI and PET to look at brain function after stroke and can offer student the opportunity to
work on this data in collaboration with physicists that I collaborate with (the physicists are in the departments of
radiology and psychiatry and are located in the same floor as I sit so is a natural collaboration).
Hoi-Chung Leung
Department of Psychology
The lab uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) approaches to study the neural basis of human cognition
including working memory and cognitive control. We have many STEM appropriate projects that involves matlab
coding and neuroimage processing and modeling. We apply multivariate analysis to model fMRI data in order to
study the relationship between brain function, physiology and behavior. We also examine the implications of our work
in special populations including children at risk of depression, adults with depression and patients with Parkinson's
disease. A summer student can work in collaboration with existing members of the lab or independently, depending
on experience.
Jerome Liang
Department of Radiology
Program: This program was established in 1992 within the Department of Radiology, Health Sciences Center (HSC)
of the State University of New York at Stony Brook - SUNY. The program is housed in a laboratory, which is
equipped with state-of-the-art super computers and associated facilities, and has been conducting several
internationally recognized research projects. The major task of this program is the development of methodology for
early diagnosis of diseases, such as cancer, cardiac malfunction, neural disorder, etc. As the laboratory's title
"Laboratory for Imaging Research and Informatics (IRIS)" says, the program develops and utilizes advanced imaging
techniques to acquire the intrinsic (internal) information from the patient, applies basic sciences to analyze the
information, and integrates physician's assessment into the final decision making. Early detection of a disease sign is
extremely important to save the patient and cut down the cost and is also extremely difficult because of lacking any
symptom. The task of this program serves the national and international public interest.
Research Activities:
(1) Developing Virtual Colonoscopy for Colon Cancer Screening
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in this nation. Detection and removal of the
colonic polyps will totally save the patient. We have patented and developed virtual colonoscopy technology for colon
screening. Clinical trial of this technology is currently under progress.
(2) Screening Lung Cancer by Ultra Low-Dose Computed Tomography
Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer related deaths worldwide, despite many years effort attempting to
prevent and cure it. Computed tomography (CT) is the current choice of imaging modality for lung information
mapping. We have been exploring the utility of CT at as low as achievable dose level for various clinical tasks in lung
cancer prevention and treatment, and good progress is being made.
(3) Quantitative SPECT Reconstruction of the Chest and Brain
Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) is a cost-effect, non-invasive, risk-free imaging modality for
studies of tissue/organ functionality. We have contributed significantly to the development of this modality for studies
of the heart, lungs, brain and breasts. The clinical relevance of this project is that (1) heart disease is the number
killer in the United States, (2) lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer related deaths in this nation, (3) neural
disorders impose a great burden to the family and society (i.e. affect a large segment of patients for a relatively long
lifetime and, therefore, render a great cost), and (4) breast cancer is also the leading cause of cancer-related deaths
in this nation for women.
(4) Quantifying brain function and anatomy by MRI
Brain atrophy is a very common indicator for various neural disorders. We have been interested in quantifying the
brain anatomy to measure subtle changes in the sub-structures within the white matter and grey matter. In addition,
we have been interested in integrating the brain function to the subtle changes to classify disease types. An example
is the classification of multiple sclerosis (MS). Another example is the quantification of arterial spin labeling (ASL)
Upstate Medical University
Program: SURF
June 1 – Aug 7, 2015
Peter Calvert
Department of Ophthalmology
The Calvert lab studies the dynamics of proteins in live retinal photoreceptors and other ciliated cells to determine
how they are transported to and localized within subcellular compartments. His lab has developed novel, quantitative
tools that are being used to probe the dynamics of specific proteins within the living cells in which they normally
reside and to determine how mutations that lead to disease cause the proteins to misbehave. Integral to this
approach is the use of multiphoton and confocal optical methods to image molecules within living cells from
transgenic animals, or in cell culture, that express proteins fused to fluorescent tags. Multiphoton fluorescence
relaxation after photoconversion and single molecule tracking using quantum dots are employed to examine protein
transport. Fluorescence cross correlation spectroscopy and multiphoton fluorescence lifetime imaging are used to
examine protein-protein interactions. Investigating the dynamics of normal proteins within cells and how they change
when mutated will lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying devastating blinding diseases, such
as retinitis pigmentosa, as well as other ciliopathies, and may ultimately lead to new therapeutic strategies.
Christopher Neville
CHP-Physical Therapy
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major health problem, especially among male adolescents and young adults. Mild
traumatic brain injury (mTBI) often goes undetected or unmanaged, as the effects of brain injury are often difficult to
visualize. Clinical management of patients is largely guided by clinician experience and self-reported symptoms
rather than objective assessment. There is a lack of commercially available objective assessments that can be used
outside of a laboratory setting.
Upstate Medical University with Drs. Neville and Rieger have partnered with Motion Intelligence, LLC to developed a
prototype portable system (referred to as the Mi Care System) that integrates a microelectromechanical system
(MEMS) inertial sensor and digital cognitive tests, which can provide objective metrics useful to advance the clinical
care for mTBI. The system uses specific objective balance and cognitive metrics that are validated against goldstandard laboratory measures. These include novel digital cognitive tests paired with an inertial sensor to measure
dual-task (balance and cognition) performance.
A summer Scholar would engage in ongoing management of balance, cognitive, and dual-task data to examine test
properties, stability, learning effects, and injury recognition patterns across a study sample of healthy controls and
patients post-mTBI.
Eric Olson
Department of Neuroscience & Physiology
We are using multiphoton microscopy to create movies of early cerebrocortical development. These studies are
providing key insights into the cellular dynamics underlying the establishment of cortical circuits. We are able to
observe the extension and retractions of the finest dendritic filopodia and ask how these filopodia react to
neighboring axons or respond to environmental cues or toxins. These interactions anticipate later synapse formation.
We currently have projects examining the role of Reelin signaling in promoting cellular polarity, golgi deployment and
directional dendritic growth. Using conditional knockout mice, we are examining the role of the focal adhesion
adaptor proteins Hic5 and Paxillin in this process of cortical migration and elaboration of the dendrite. Finally we are
studying the consequence of ethanol exposure on directional dendritic growth. Our laboratory has expertise in
neurodevelopment, Reelin-signaling, multiphoton imaging, confocal imaging and image analysis.
Daniel Tso
Department of Neurosurgery
The long-term goal of our work is to arrive at a deeper understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying visual
perception. Although we have chosen to focus on the processing in the visual system, the mechanisms of neuronal
organization, interaction and connectivity that we are studying hold broad implications for our understanding of brain
in both normal and diseased states. Important themes include the classes of neuronal interactions between different
cortical areas, and how ensembles of neurons cooperate to ultimately yield visual perception, object recognition and
visually-guided behavior. Our studies employ a range of anatomical and physiological techniques, including single
and multiple electrode recordings, optical functional imaging and multi-photon imaging. Our most recent projects
include functional retinal imaging in humans and other species, and a study of the mechanisms underlying rapid adult
cortical plasticity.
Andrea Viczian
Department of Ophthalmology
Cone photoreceptors make up less than 5% of retinal cells, yet they are responsible for all our daylight vision. Once
cones are lost, there is currently no way to replace them. Our approach is to find a way to generate a plentiful
population of these rare, sight-saving cells. The BNE summer student would work together with a graduate student
and the PI on a tissue engineering project over the summer, looking at how the environment influences cone
photoreceptor formation in culture.
List B:
University at Albany
Program: REU
6/1 – 8/7/15
Gerwin Schalk
Research Scientist, Wadsworth Center
The Adaptive Neurotechnologies Program at the Wadsworth Center is conducting research in three major areas and
is translating the results into useful clinical applications.
(1) Operant conditioning of simple spinal cord reflexes to improve rehabilitation of important motor skills such as
locomotion. We showed for the first time that the simplest spinal reflex pathways can be modified by operant
conditioning (e.g., J Neurophysiol 50:1296-1311, 1983). We are elucidating the anatomical and physiological
mechanisms of this plasticity and are showing that appropriate modifications of reflex pathways can improve walking
in animals and humans with spinal cord injuries (e.g., J Neurosci 26:12537-12543, 2006; 33:2365-2375, 2013). This
work opens an entirely new approach to neurorehabilitation through targeted modifications of CNS pathways. We are
now extending it to additional pathways and focusing it on specific phases of dynamic behaviors.
University at Buffalo
Richard Gronostajski
Department of Biochemistry
The Gronostajski lab studies the biology of neural stem cells and how those cells differentiate into all of the neurons
and glia in the brain. We have a particular focus on adult neural stem cells and how they are regulated by
transcription factors. Our summer project would involve culturing neural stem cells from adult mouse brain and
assessing the differentiation potential of both normal neural stem cells and stem cells lacking the Nuclear Factor I X
(NFIX) transcription factor.
Zhen Yan
Department of Physiology and Biophysics
The laboratory of Dr. Zhen Yan in SUNY-Buffalo is interested in discovering the molecular and cellular mechanisms
of mental disorders. Particularly, we study the synaptic action of various neuromodulators that are linked to mental
health and illness, including dopamine, stress hormones, and disease susceptibility genes. We try to understand how
these neuromodulators regulate glutamatergic and GABAergic transmission in prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is
important for emotional and cognitive control under normal conditions. We also try to understand how the aberrant
action of neuromodulators under pathological conditions leads to dysregulation of synaptic transmission in PFC,
which is commonly implicated in mental disorders including ADHD, schizophrenia, depression, and autism. By using
a combination of electrophysiological, molecular biological, biochemical and behavioral approaches, we have been
tackling the unique and dynamic actions of neuromodulators on the trafficking and function of glutamate and GABA
receptors in normal animals and different disease models.
Steven J. Fliesler
Departments of Ophthalmology & Biochemistry
My research involves retinal biochemistry and cell biology within the context of hereditary and acquired retinal
degenerations, using animal models to mimic human diseases. In particular, my lab has focused on studying how
dysregulation of cholesterol metabolism impacts the development and maintenance of normal retinal structure and
function. We use a combination of lipidomic, proteomic, and genomic approaches, in conjunction with histological,
immunohistochemical, and ultrastructural (EM) methods, to elucidate the underlying mechanisms that cause retinal
degenerations in animal models of human diseases. Other scientific interests include the impact of protein and lipid
oxidation on the structure/function of the retina, and the application of antioxidants as therapeutic interventions for
retinal/neuronal degenerations. My lab collaborates and co-publishes actively and effectively with a number of other
laboratories (see PubMed:, particularly as regards the use of
EM and EM immunogold cytochemistry methods to contribute substantively to those collaborations. A number of
projects are potentially available for students to pursue, either independently or in collaboration with other personnel
in the lab. For additional information, see: and
Margarita Dubocovich
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Molecular Modeling Predicts Affinity of Environmental Toxins for Human and Mouse MT1 and MT2 Melatonin
Mentors: Drs. Margarita L. Dubocovich/Rajendram V. Rajnarayanan, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology,
School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo
Introduction: Melatonin is a hormone synthesized by the pineal gland, in a circadian fashion with high levels during
the night and low levels during the day. Melatonin signals through two G protein coupled receptors, known as MT1
and MT2. Disruption of the circadian rhythm has been linked to diabetes and other disorders. Molecular modeling has
identified possible circadian disruptors, including two classes of pesticides: carbamates and pyrethroids.
Project Goals: To dock compounds into MT1 and MT2 melatonin receptor molecular models to assess binding in
silico and translate to in vitro receptor binding studies; To determine the affinity and selectivity of selected
compounds for the MT1 and MT2 melatonin receptors; To determine differences in affinity and selectivity between
human and mouse MT1 and MT2 melatonin receptors
Degree of Independence Expected: The student will work closely with Dr. Dubocovich, Dr. Rajnarayanan, and a
senior graduate student or postdoc, who will mentor and guide the student in daily laboratory activities. The student
will be trained in all the molecular and biochemical techniques necessary to conduct the project and will be taught the
principles of hypothesis driven research, drug-receptor interaction, and data analysis. We will provide guidance in all
aspects of the work in areas including literature searches, laboratory techniques, preparation of written reports and
research presentations. At the end of the summer, we expect that the student will be able to run the experiments and
analyze the data with minimal supervision from us.
The student will participate in all activities of the CLIMB UP for Summer Research at UB.
Rajendram V. Rajnarayanan
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Environmental chemicals targeting human melatonin receptors
Exposure to environmental chemicals is a major concern for human health as natural and man-made substances can
adversely affect physiological processes which may contribute to the incidence of various diseases ranging from
neurodegenerative diseases to metabolic syndrome. Our lab seeks to identify neuroendocrine disruptors affecting the
circadian hormone melatonin and its ability to signal "time-of-day" messages to target peripheral tissues. The release
of melatonin from the pineal gland is regulated by biological clocks in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the
hypothalamus which in turn regulates peripheral target tissues through activation of MT1 and MT2 melatonin
receptors. We use an integrated pharmacoinformatics approach to identify environmental circadian disruptors that
target hMT1 and hMT2 melatonin receptors. Many of these chemicals are flying under the toxicological radar and
have no established guidelines for exposure. Our integrated Chem2Risk strategy will provide the essential impetus
to pursue further testing in animal models and be useful in future assessment of risk factors associated with
environmental disruptors carrying similar chemical-structural features and to establish exposure regulatory
Degree of Independence Expected: The student will work closely with Dr. Rajnarayanan, and a senior graduate
student or postdoc, who will mentor and guide the student in daily laboratory activities. The student will be trained in
all the molecular and biochemical techniques necessary to conduct the project and will be taught the principles of
hypothesis driven research, drug-receptor interaction, and data analysis. We will provide guidance in all aspects of
the work in areas including literature searches, laboratory techniques, preparation of written reports and research
presentations. At the end of the summer, we expect that the student will be able to run the experiments and analyze
the data with minimal supervision from us.
The student will participate in all activities of the CLIMB UP for Summer Research at UB.
Ji Li
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
We have developed a comprehensive heart perfusion system to study the signaling mechanism of pharmacological
therapy. The project that the summer students will be working on test the cardioprotective effects of some natural
products from herb medicine on ischemic heart disease and heart failure. As PI or co-investigator on several AHA-,
ADA-, and NIH-funded grants, I laid the groundwork for the ongoing research by spearheading novel projects related
to understanding the role of stress signaling pathways in glucose metabolic regulation. In addition, I successfully
administered the projects (e.g. staffing and budget), collaborated with other researchers, and produced several peerreviewed publications from each project.
I would be happy to supervise the summer students who are working at my laboratory with four graduate students,
three fellows and two technicians.
The student will participate in all activities of the CLIMB UP for Summer Research at UB
SUNY College of Optometry
Benjamin Backus
Graduate Center for Vision Research
Benjamin Backus's lab at SUNY College of Optometry conducts research on binocular vision in normally sighted
people and looks for new treatments for binocular anomalies such as amblyopia and strabismus. An important project
this summer will test whether amblyopia treatments in adults can be made more effective by spending 10 days in
complete darkness. 8 adult volunteers will undergo pretesting, binocular deprivation for 10 days, training, and posttesting. This project involves spending time in the dark with the participants and providing support, in addition to
scientific help. In animal models, visual deprivation was recently shown to be sufficient to reinstate juvenile plasticity
in visual cortex, with a resulting substantial recovery from deep amblyopia. We are looking for team members who
have a strong interest in neuroscience, good team member skills, and a sense of adventure.
SUNY Brain and SUNY 4E Summer Scholars Programs
How to access the application
1. Visit:
2. Create and account and/or log in.
3. Click Apply.
4. Enter BNESUMMER or 4ESUMMER in the Access Code box and click Enter.
5. Click the link that appears to open the application. Depending on your settings, you may need to cut and
paste the link it into a new browser.