Poster Day

Friday, August 22
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
IBG 120

In order to celebrate the start of the academic year and welcome our new graduate students, postdocs, and research staff members, I would like to invite you to participate in an IBG Orientation and Poster Day, on Friday, August 22th. As in past years, this will be an opportunity for IBGers to get together for an afternoon of stimulating conversation. It will also introduce the new members of our Institute to the breadth of research conducted at IBG.

I hope that you will be able to participate. If so, please bring posters that you, or members of your lab, have presented during the past year and mount them between 8:00 a.m. 3:00 p.m. on Friday, the 22th. A list of board assignments will be posted outside room 255 late Thursday afternoon. As usual, we will provide mounting supplies. The poster session will be held from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. and will be an informal gathering with no set time for manning the posters that will be left to your discretion. Refreshments will be served during the session.

This year, Elaine Pauly is assisting with the coordination of the poster session. Please let Elaine know, as soon as possible, how many posters you or your group would like to display. That information will be helpful in case we need to rent additional poster boards. She can be reached at extension 2-2831 (303 492 2831 for those of you in Denver), or at

I look forward to seeing your posters later this month, and thank you in advance for your efforts in making this both a fun and stimulating IBG event.

Toni Smolen



Tuesday, August 5
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
IBG 120

Nandita Mitra, PhD
Assistant Professor
University of Pennsylvania
Department of Biostatistics & Epidemiology


Analysis of Population Based Genetic Association Studies
Using Propensity Score Methods

Please join us for refreshments at 3:45 pm

University of Colorado (East Campus)
Institute for Behavioral Genetics
1480 30th Street, Room 120
Boulder, CO 80303


Friday, June 6
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
IBG 120

Henry A. Lester, Ph.D.
Bren Professor of Biology
Department of Neuroscience
Division of Biology
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, California

Changes in the Brain During Chronic Nicotine

Several nicotinic ACh receptor (nAChR) subtypes modulate dopamine release, and therefore may be drug targets for disorders such as nicotine dependence and Parkinson's disease. Receptors containing 6 nAChR subunits ( 6*) are highly expressed in midbrain dopamine neurons, and are implicated in cholinergic modulation of dopamine release and the response to nicotine. We generated mutant mice expressing hypersensitive 6* receptors to selectively isolate and amplify physiological and behavioral responses to 6 activation. Midbrain dopamine neurons from mice expressing Leu9'Ser (L9'S) 6* receptors exhibit markedly hypersensitive nicotinic currents and fire action potentials in response to 6 activation. In midbrain, functional 6* nAChRs are selectively expressed in dopamine, but not GABA, neurons. On the other hand, ?4* receptors are expressed both in dopamine neurons and in the GABA neurons that inhibit the dopamine neurons. The previously described hypersensitive ?4Leu9'Ala strain allows selective activation of ?4* receptors by nicotine. Selective activation of 6* nAChRs in vivo stimulates locomotor activity via striatal dopamine release. However, selective activation of ?4* in vivo inhibits locomotor activity, presumably because the dominant action is the inhibition produced by GABA neurons. This is the first study to report selective 6 activation in vitro and in vivo, and suggests the potential of targeting 6* receptors for neural disorders involving dopamine transmission.

Additional Links:

Chronic Nicotine Cell Specifically Upregulates Functional {alpha}4* Nicotinic Receptors: Basis for Both Tolerance in Midbrain and Enhanced Long-Term Potentiation in Perforant Path, R.Nashmi, C.Xiao, P.Deshpande, S.McKinney, S.Grady, P.Whiteaker, Q.Huang, T.McClure-Begley, J.Lindstrom, C.Labarca, A.Collins, M.Marks & H.Lester, 2007.

Cell Autonomy, Receptor Autonomy, and Thermodynamics in Nicotine Receptor Up-regulation, Raad Nashmi and Henry Lester, 2007.



Wednesday, April 2
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Muenzinger E214

Thomas J. Gould, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology and the Center for Substance Abuse Research
Temple University

Nicotine and Learning: From Behavior to Neural and Genetic Substrates

Tobacco use is a serious health problem in the United States, which attests to the strong addictive nature of nicotine. Whereas nicotine is reinforcing, it is not as reinforcing as other substances of abuse. This suggests that additional factors may contribute to nicotine addiction. Nicotinic acetylcholinergic receptors have been linked to cognitive processes; thus the ability of nicotine to alter learning and synaptic plasticity may facilitate nicotine addiction. Research in the Gould laboratory links the effects of nicotine on hippocampus-dependent learning to underlying changes in neural and genetic substrates and examines how these effects change as nicotine administration transitions from acute treatment to chronic treatment to withdrawal from chronic treatment. Because both learning and addiction result in long-lasting behavioral changes, understanding the cellular and genetic factors that contribute to these changes in plasticity and behavior will advance understanding of both addiction and learning.


Wednesday, April 9
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Muenzinger E214

Dr. Jonathan Wisor
Staff Scientist
SRI International

Pharmacology and Genetics of Sleep Disorders: Insights from animal models

The neurobiological underpinnings of sleep and its disorders remain ill-defined. I and my colleagues have utilized pharmacological and behavioral manipulations of wild type and genetically engineered animals and have exploited phenotypic variability among laboratory mouse strains to gain insights in this area. In my presentation, I will describe the knowledge we have gained regarding mechanisms of sleep/wake therapeutics, the interactions of the molecular circadian clock with sleep regulatory mechanisms, and a unique animal model we have developed for studies on circadian regulation of sleep.


Wednesday, April 16
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Muenzinger E214

Dr. Don Cooper
Assistant Professor
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Psychostimulant-induced plasticity in the brain reward circuitry: From measurement to manipulation

Drug addiction is primarily a disease that targets the brain*s motivation/reward and decision-making centers. Addicts demonstrate a loss of control over drug intake and often seek drugs even in the face of profound negative consequences. Such impairments in decision-making are hallmark features of pathological frontal cortical function. The goal of the Cooper laboratory is to use state-of-the-art functional analysis and novel molecular genetic tools to identify the mechanisms of psychostimulant-induced plasticity in the brain reward pathways and then use these tools to restore normal cellular function. Recently, the Cooper laboratory has explored a reverse translational (human to rodent) approach to uncover a novel mechanism for diminished prefrontal cortical function (hypofrontality) during abstinence from cocaine. A combination of brain imaging in cocaine addicts, rodent DNA microarray analysis, transgenic GFP mice and multielectrode electrophysiological recordings reveal cocaine-induced molecular and physiological changes in prefrontal cortical superficial layer function. Such prefrontal cortical layer specific neuroadaptations may be shared across addictive substances and, therefore, may be a useful therapeutic target. Using rodent cocaine self-administration as a model to induce plasticity, the Cooper laboratory is now focused on restoring cocaine-induced prefrontal cortical synaptic function using viral vectors and novel AMPAkine compounds that target superficial prefrontal cortical layers to boost excitatory transmission.

Sample Papers:

Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 governs learning and synaptic plasticity via control of NMDAR degradation

Corticolimbic Expression of TRPC4 and TRPC5 Channels in the Rodent Brain


Fri, April 11
4:00 pm
IBG 120

Marilyn E. Coors, PhD
Assistant Professor of Bioethics and Genetics
Department of Psychiatry and the
Center for Bioethics & Humanities
University of Colorado Denver

"The Interface of Bioethics and Psychiatric Genetic Research"