Neuro News
News and events of the SNRI and the IU neuroscience community

Undergraduate Neuroscience Program

Beginning in the Fall 2012, the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis has established a new neuroscience program, offering students an opportunity to earn an undergraduate degree in a rapidly advancing field on a campus with a climate of strong interdisciplinary collaboration.  Find out more information here!

Congratulations and Achievements!

September 2016

Congratulations to Drs. Bruce Lamb, Paul Territo, Gareth Howell, Gregory Carter, and both of their teams for achieving part of a five-year, $25 million effort to help push through a "bottleneck" of new treatments for Alzheimer's disease. The funding from the National Institute of Aging will support the new Alzheimer's Disease Precision Models Center at the IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis and the globally-recognized Jackson Laboratory in Maine.  Follow the link for the complete article:

December 2014
Congratulations to Drs. Xiaoming Jin, Fletcher White, and Zao Xu for achieving the Prevention of Acquired Epilepsies Awards: Two-to-three grants up to $250,000 in support of research relevant to the prevention and treatment of acquired (post-insult) epilepsies!

"Targeting High Mobility Group Box-1 Signaling for Preventing Posttraumatic Epileptogenesis”

Brain injuries or seizures cause the damaged brain cells to release high mobility group box-1 (HMGB1), a protein that binds to its receptors (including TLR4) and plays a central role in inducing inflammation, brain damage, and abnormal brain activity. In this project, we will use an animal model to determine brain injury-induced changes in HMGB1 and its receptors and their contribution to the development of epilepsy. We will also directly test whether neutralizing HMGB1 will prevent posttraumatic epilepsy. Because targeting HMGB1 may promote brain repair and can be achieved with several currently available drugs or molecules, this strategy may have great potential for clinical application.

Congratulations to Dr. Xiao-Ming Xu for receiving the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation grant for: "Schwann cell migration-mediated axonal regeneration after spinal cord injury" for $200,000!

September 2014
Make sure you congratulate Drs. Shekar and Clapp !  They discovered that a mouse model of neurofibromatosis had problems with long term social learning. Tests also showed that neurochemical pathways between structures of the brain involved with social behavior were disrupted by the neurofibromatosis mutation. Using a novel approach, mice with the neurofibromatosis mutation were injected with a compound known to block the neurochemical action of p21 protein-activated kinase (Pak1) gene which restored normal social behavior. Taken together, these observations demonstrate that selective deficits in social learning and underlying disruptions are caused by a single-gene (Nf1) mutation. These findings provide potential new therapeutic approach toward ameliorating these disabling behavioral symptoms in patients with NF1 and some forms of autism spectrum disorders.  Read the full article here: 

Congratulations to Dr. Fletcher White and his lab on the publication of their paper in last week's (September 3, 2014) Science Daily!  Please follow the following URL to read the full featured research article entitled "Researchers isolate inflammatory process that damages lungs of donors with traumatic brain injury".
Members of Dr. White's lab: Matt Ripsch, Bo Cheon, Youngsook Kim, and Yohance Allette.
Researchers have isolated the inflammatory process that causes lung damage to individual who suffered traumatic brain injury, many of whom could have been lung transplant donors. The majority of lungs used in transplantation are procured from brain dead donors, of which between 40 and 70 percent have sustained traumatic brain injury. Since only 15 to 20 percent of all lungs evaluated are deemed appropriate for transplant, there is clearly an opportunity to better prepare donor lungs.

Xiaoming Jin, Ph.D., has received a grant from Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy to support his work on targeting high mobility group Box-1 signaling for preventing posttraumatic epileptogenesis.

Naikui Liu, M.D., Ph.D., has received a grant from the Indiana State Department of Health for his research into activation of cPLA2 and mitochondrial dysfunction in spinal cord injury.

October 2013
Congratulations to Drs. Ted Cummins and Yucheng Xiao (also from the Cummins' Lab) on the publication of their full research article in this week's (October 25, 2013) Science magazine!  Please follow the following URL for the full text article entitled, "Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel in Grasshopper Mice Defends Against Bark Scorpion Toxin."

Their study, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Texas at Austin and the MBL in Woods Hole, documents a fascinating evolutionary mutation in an “off-target” sodium channel isoform in the grasshopper mouse that permits it to prey on a particular scorpion species that uses its venom to produce painful stings to ward off other predators.  This highly unusual evolutionary outcome not only provides a better understanding of the predator-prey relationships and how they are shaped over millions of years in niche environments, but also points the way to several potentially novel approaches to the development of new analgesics. 

Check out a special commentary entitled, "Natural Selection and Pain meet at a Sodium Channel," by Dr. Gary R. Lewin in the same issue!

July 2013
Congratulations to the Hashino Lab on the publication of a landmark paper in the on-line edition of Nature on July 10, 2013!  The team, headed by Karl Koehler, reports the first generation of sensory hair cells from stem cells as assessed by protein markers, morphology, and function.  This study is indeed a tremendous advancement in the potential application of stem cell approaches to hearing and balance disorders.  Follow the link to this important publication below:

May 2013
Congratulations to the Kareken Lab, including Brandon G. Oberlin, Maro Dzemidzic, Stella M. Tran, Christina M. Soeurt, Daniel S. Albrecht, and Karmen K. Yoder on the publication and world-wide recognition of their Neuropsychopharmacology paper entitled, "Beer Flavor Provokes Striatal Dopamine Release in Male Drinkers: Mediation by Family History of Alcoholism"!  Dr. Kareken was interviewed by the BBC and the ABC in Australia.  The article also made the Wall Street Journal weekend science page, and did a podcast with Dr. Kareken explaining the area.  You can download the article at: 

BBC Interview:

March 2011
Congratulations to Joel Brittain, Dr. Rajesh Khanna, and other contributing colleagues whose recent paper was accepted for publication in a 2011 edition of the top tier journal, Nature Medicine. Joel is a doctoral student in the Medical Neuroscience Program under the supervision of Dr. Khanna. The title of the paper is “Suppression of inflammatory and neuropathic pain by uncoupling CRMP-2 from the presynaptic Ca2+ channel complex.” Dr. Khanna is a member of our Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Group. (Submitted by Xiao-Ming Xu)

Fall 2010

Alexander Niculescu awarded Prestigious NIH Grant (October 7th).
 Alexander B. Niculescu III, M.D., Ph.D., a mood disorders expert and geneticist at the Indiana University School of Medicine, is one of 52 researchers nationwide across all fields of biomedical sciences to receive a 2010 National Institutes of Health Directorbs New Innovator Award.

Dr. Niculescu, an associate professor of psychiatry and medical neuroscience, will receive $1.5 million over 5 years for his research to develop blood tests for mood disorders such as bipolar disorder and depression. An objective lab test could revolutionize diagnosis and treatment for the one in five people affected by these disorders. 
The NIH Director's New Innovator Award program is different from traditional NIH grants. It is designed to support creative investigators with innovative research.
The director of INBRAIN and the Laboratory of Neurophenomics at the IU Institute of Psychiatric Research and a staff psychiatrist at the Indianapolis VA Medical Center, Dr. Niculescu also is the recipient of two National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression Young Investigator Awards and a VA Merit Award. In 2007, he received the Theodore Reich Award from the International Society for Psychiatric Genetics.
To learn more about Dr. Niculescu's research, visit

Spring 2010
Karl Koehler
 is a PhD Candidate, currently in his second year of the Medical Neuroscience Graduate Program working in the laboratory of Dr. Eri Hashino, within the department of Otolaryngology. Their research is focused on the development of a cell replacement therapy for sensorineural hearing loss. To this end, the lab is exploring the potential of directing the differentiation of pluripotent stem cells into neurons similar or identical to those that convey sensory information from the cochlea to the auditory brainstem. Recently, they have been interested in using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells because these cells can be derived from adult skin cells unlike embryonic stem (ES) cells.

At the recent Keystone Symposium titled "Stem cell differentiation and dedifferentiation", Karl presented a poster titled: Quantitative comparative analysis of iPS and ES cells directed to differentiate into neurons in which he analyzed the transcriptional changes that take place during in vitro neural differentiation of iPS cells. He found that a similar pattern of neurodevelopmental genes is expressed in iPS and ES cells, but differentiation is much slower for iPS cells. This work is significant because it provides further insight into the neuroregenerative potential of iPS cells, which are poorly characterized at this time. Moving forward, the Hashino lab hopes to refine their differentiation protocol to yield neurons or neural progenitors more suitable for transplantation in the inner ear of an animal model.

Karl received the Keystone Symposia scholarship made possible through the National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development Grant # 1R13HD063192-01.

Natalie Wilson, a Loyola University Graduate Student in Dr. Fletcher A. White's lab, received the prestigious award from the National Science Foundation; an NSF GK-12 fellow for the 2010-2011 academic year. The Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12) Program, managed by NSF's Division of Graduate Education (DGE), provides funding to graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines to acquire additional skills that will broadly prepare them for professional and scientific careers in the 21st century. NSF developed the GK-12 program recognizing that, in addition to being competent researchers, STEM graduate students must be able to communicate science and research to a variety of audiences. As the graduate students bring their cutting-edge research and practice into the K-12 classroom, they gain these skills which enable them to explain science to people of all ages, ranging from students to teachers. The graduate students also inspire transformation in the K-12 formal and informal learning environments and stimulate interest in science and engineering among students and teachers. NSF understands that STEM graduate students can contribute to the national effort to advance scientific knowledge through partnerships with K-12 communities.

Alexander Niculescu awarded Theodore Reich Award from the International Society for Psychiatric Genetics (August 2007). Dr. Alexander Niculescu, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Medical Neuroscience, received the Reich Award, which is given annually to an investigator younger than 40 years of age. Niculescu will present a paper at the Congress on Overlap Among Psychotic Disorders and Chair a symposium at the World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics in New York City in October, 2007. To read more on Dr. Reich's distinguished achievements, go to the following link

Welcome! New Faculty to the Institute.

Fall 2009
Dr. Fletcher A. White
, joins the Stark from the Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology & Anatomy and Anesthesiology at the Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University, Chicago.  White's research focuses on studying neuroimmune mechanisms of chronic pain following disease or peripheral nerve injury.  Please visit Dr. White's webpage for more information on his research activities.

Fall 2008
Dr. Xiaoming Jin, joins the Stark from the Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine.  Jin's research focuses on studying the organization and plasticity of cortical circuits, and the mechanisms of epileptogenesis following traumatic brain injury. Please see Dr. Jin's webpage for more information on his research activities.

Dr. Jinhui Chen, joins the Stark from the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at University of Kentucky. Jinhui's research focuses on one neural stem cell fate determination in the adult brain and neuroregeneration following traumatic brain injury. Please see Dr. Chen's webpage for more details. 

The recipient of the Mari Hulman George Chair of Neuroscience Research is Dr. Xiao-Ming Xu.  Dr. Xu joined the Stark from the University of Louisville to lead the Head and Spinal Cord Injury Group here on the fourth floor of the Institute. Xu holds a joint professorship with IUSM's Department of Neurological Surgery and his research focus is to study the mechanisms underlying spinal cord injury (SCI) and develop repair strategies to improve anatomical reorganization and functional recovery in animal models of SCI, eventually translating these results to clinical treatments of human spinal cord injuries.  Please visit Dr. Xu's webpage for more details.

Stark Neurosciences Research Institute | Neuroscience Research Building | 320 West 15th Street | Indianapolis, IN 46202 | Phone: (317) 278-5848 | FAX: (317) 231-0203