Salk Institute
Women and Science

Salk Women & Science on Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Hosted by Professor Sam Pfaff and featuring a scientific presentation by:

Nicola Allen, Ph.D.
Astrocytes: A little-known brain cell with a big impact on autism and Alzheimer's

 

Nicola Allen Nicola Allen is an assistant professor in Salk’s Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory and the Crick-Jacobs Center for Computational and Theoretical Biology. Dr. Allen doesn’t focus on neurons, like most neuroscientists do. Instead, she studies the more obscure, star-shaped cells called astrocytes, which make up 50 percent of the brain. These cells—once thought to be just scaffolding for neurons—have been shown in the last decade to be critical to normal brain function and could have important implications for neurodevelopment and degenerative diseases like autism, epilepsy, schizophrenia, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.


Dr. Allen explores how these enigmatic cells influence connections between neurons as the brain develops and ages. She has already discovered one type of protein secreted from astrocytes that controls a neuron’s communication with its neighbors, and she is now working to identify more players. One of Dr. Allen’s major goals is to find out if and how one could use proteins from astrocytes to encourage new connections to form between neurons in damaged or aging brains, potentially restoring brain function.




Elizabeth (Betsy) ReisFor more information, please contact:
Elizabeth (Betsy) Reis
Director of Donor Relations
Phone: 858 453-4100 ext. 1426
E-mail: breis@salk.edu

About Women & Science

The vision of Salk Women & Science is to create an ongoing program that will engage women in the community with leaders in biological science and technology. The program is designed to provide a dynamic and vibrant forum in which community and business leaders and Salk’s women of science have an opportunity to gather as friends, entrepreneurs and researchers to discuss the latest discoveries in science and technology while inspiring more women to embrace scientific research as a focus of personal and philanthropic interest.

Salk Women & Science Innovation Grant and Special Awards Initiative
This year, we are proud to announce the launch of the Salk Women and Science Innovation Grant and Special Awards Initiative. These grant awards to female scientists will provide critical seed funding for high-risk research projects in stages too early to attract traditional funding. The reality is that too many novel ideas do not receive funding because of the level of risk. Innovation grants and special awards, ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 will allow for the development of promising ideas so that they can eventually attract larger grants. Breakthroughs by Salk scientists are driving discovery. We hope that you will partner with Salk Women & Science by making a gift to the Innovation Grant and Special Awards fundraising Initiative. Click here to donate»






Faculty

Nicola J. Allen
Assistant Professor
Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory


Janelle S. Ayres
Assistant Professor
Nomis Foundation Laboratories for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis


Ursula Bellugi
Professor and Director
Laboratory for Cognitive Neuroscience


Suzanne Bourgeois
Professor Emerita
Regulatory Biology Laboratory


Joanne Chory
Professor and Director
Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory
Howard H. and Maryam R. Newman Chair in Plant Biology


Beverly M. Emerson
Professor
Regulatory Biology Laboratory

Katherine A. Jones
Professor
Regulatory Biology Laboratory


Julie A. Law
Assistant Professor
Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory


Vicki Lundblad
Professor
Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory


Clodagh O'Shea
Associate Professor
Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory


Catherine Rivier
Professor Emerita
Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology


Tatyana Sharpee
Associate Professor
Computational Neurobiology Laboratory
Helen McLoraine Developmental Chair in Neurobiology




Elizabeth (Betsy) ReisFor more information, please contact:
Elizabeth (Betsy) Reis
Director of Donor Relations
Phone: 858 453-4100 ext. 1426
E-mail: breis@salk.edu

Future Women & Science Events

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Faculty Videos

Salk Women & Science presentation on Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hosted by Professor Ursula Bellugi and featuring a scientific presentation by:
Carol Marchetto, Ph.D.

Using human pluripotent stem cells to model autism spectrum disorders - Carol Marchetto

Carol Marchetto is a Senior Staff Scientist in the Laboratory of Dr. Fred Gage at The Salk Institute. Carol is involved in understanding the mechanisms by which human pluripotent stem cells become a fully developed functional neuron. Moreover, Carol is currently studying the behavior of different subtypes of human neurons in neurodegenerative/neurodevelopmental diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are complex neurodevelopmental diseases, highly heritable and mainly characterized by deficits in social interaction, impaired communication and stereotyped behaviors. Currently, there are no early biological markers of ASD, nor known effective treatments that lead to optimal long-term clinical outcome. Using Rett syndrome (RTT) as an ASD genetic model, Carol and colleagues demonstrated that studying developing neurons from ASD patients provided further understanding of early aspects of the disease that could be used as biomarkers for early diagnosis and also as targets for potential therapies.





Cold viruses point the way to new cancer therapies - Clodagh O'Shea

Adenovirus, a type of cold virus, has developed molecular tools—proteins—that allow it to hijack a cell's molecular machinery, including large cellular machines involved in growth, replication and cancer suppression. The Salk scientists identified the construction of these molecular weapons and found that they bind together into long chains (polymers) to form a three-dimensional web inside cells that traps and overpowers cellular sentries involved in growth and cancer suppression. The findings, published October 11 in Cell, suggest a new avenue for developing cancer therapies by mimicking the strategies employed by the viruses. Read more>>





Fruit fly intestine may hold secret to the fountain of youth - Leanne Jones

One of the few reliable ways to extend an organism's lifespan, be it a fruit fly or a mouse, is to restrict calorie intake. Now, a new study in fruit flies is helping to explain why such minimal diets are linked to longevity and offering clues to the effects of aging on stem cell behavior. Read more>>


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