News

  • Unit

    Linda Katona successfully defended her doctoral thesis, entitled "The role of cell-type selective synaptic connections in rhythmic neuronal network activity in the hippocampus", in her viva voce  examination on 13th August 2014. Only minor corrections have been requested by the examiners.

    Her examiners were Prof. Kenneth Harris, Professor of Quantative Neuroscience, Institute of Neurology, UCL and Dr. Simon Butt, Associate Professor in Neuroscience, Dept. of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics, University of Oxford.

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    We are delighted to welcome back István Lukács, a visiting medical student from the Medical University of Targu Mures, Romania where he finished his 4th year, to Prof. Peter Somogyi's laboratory for a 2 month visit. István was a previous winner of the Oxford Cajal Scholarship scheme. He joins a project on the synaptic connections of identified neurons in acute human cortical slices recorded in vitro by the group of Prof Gabor Tamas, a previous Unit member now in the University of Szeged, Hungary.

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    Peter Saghy has joined Peter Somogyi’s lab for a month long visit as part of the Oxford Cajal Scholarship scheme.  He won the Ramon y Cajal competition with his essay, "Does evolution have a direction and what is the meaning of life?".

    Peter completed his third year of high school at the Hungarian Gimnázium of Dunaszerdahely, the Slovak Republic.

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  • External

    As part of the Unit’s highly successful and long-running Public Engagement Programme, Unit Senior Scientist Paul Bolam and student Federica Vinciati visited Little Milton Primary School to deliver a Neuroscience Session for about 30 pupils aged 8-10.

    Paul Bolam led the group discussion using PowerPoint slides, a plastic brain, fixed animal brains and various other props.  The general points raised were: who we are and what we do as part of the MRC; what the brain is; how many cells the brain contains; electrical signals in brain cells and networks; localization of function; and diseases of the brain with a focus on those of the aged, i.e.  Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.  The presentation also included video clips of an untreated and medicated person with Parkinson’s, as well as the therapeutic effects of deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus in Parkinson’s.  Practical activities included: Mexican wave signal transmission through a network from ‘sensory organs’ to ‘muscles’, how it feels to have Parkinson’s, handling animal brains, and making pipe-cleaner neurons and networks.

    Innumerable questions from the children left Paul and Federica totally exhausted!!

     

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  • Unit

    Awards are given to Affiliate Members of The Physiological Society every year sponsored by Pfizer in recognition of excellence in research presented at the Society’s annual Main Meeting, Physiology in six categories: Cardiac & Respiratory Physiology, Cellular & Integrative Neuroscience, Epithelia & Membrane Transport, Human & Exercise Physiology, Metabolism & Endocrinology and Vascular & Smooth Muscle Physiology. Candidates are registered for a higher degree by research in a department of a higher education institute in the UK or the Republic of Ireland. Submitted abstracts are judged first by a Scientific Advisory Board and selected papers are presented in a 10 min oral communication.

    This year’s Pfizer Prize in Cellular & Integrative Neuroscience was awarded to Unit DPhil student Linda Katona for her paper “Somatostatin-expressing interneurons: segregation of network operations in the hippocampus of freely moving rats”, which she presented at the 2014 meeting 30th June - 2nd July at The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London. Linda has revealed the cell-type selective synaptic connections of several distinct GABAergic, somatostatin-expressing interneurons, and defined their firing during rhythmic neuronal network activity in the rat hippocampus under the joint supervision of Professors Peter Somogyi and Thomas Klausberger and she concluded this work in a recently submitted DPhil thesis.

  • Unit

    Mr. Manuel Valero joins the group of Professor Peter Somogyi for three months under the supervision of Dr Tim Viney. He studies for a PhD in the group of Dr Liset Ménendez de la Prida at the Cajal Institute in Madrid, (http://www.hippo-circuitlab.es) where he applies an arsenal of techniques including multi-site and single-cell recordings in anesthesiated and awake animals, and data analysis to explain hippocampal neuronal activity. He explores the function of hippocampal and para-hippocampal circuits in the normal and the epileptic brain, with a special emphasis in the cellular and synaptic rules that govern circuit dynamics. In the Unit he will learn histological analysis and neuronal reconstruction.

     

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  • Unit

    The MRC Unit was well represented in this year’s Paton Prize Lectures, with three of our D.Phil. students (Marco Bocchio [pictured to the right], Farid Garas and Dimitrios Kotzadimitriou) each giving a presentation about their ongoing thesis research.  Marco, a second-year student in the Capogna Group, was jointly awarded second prize for his presentation entitled “'Serotonergic modulation of the mouse basolateral amygdala: implications for emotional behaviour and brain state”.

    The Paton Prize is named in honour of the late Professor Sir William Paton, former Head of the University Department of Pharmacology, and is awarded annually on the basis of general research excellence, the quality of presentation and the ability to deal with the adjudicators’ questions.

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  • Unit

    Unit senior scientists David Dupret and Marco Capogna, and Unit D.Phil. student Colin McNamara, all enthusiastically served on the MRC stand at the Cheltenham Science Festival this year, which ran from 2nd to 7th June.  The Unit team were joined by many other MRC-funded staff and students from across the UK, and all were ably coordinated by Erika Doyle from MRC Harwell.  With a very large number of visitors, the festival attendance reached another record high.  This year at the MRC stand, special emphasis was placed on the brain, especially in relation to dementia and memory disorders.  David commented “It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for everyone involved.  The activities and discussions really engaged people, and several teachers told me that they would take away ideas from the stands for future use in the classroom”.

     

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  • Unit

    Our congratulations go to Unit D.Phil student Alessia Manganaro, who successfully defended her D.Phil. thesis, entitled “Functional differentiation along the dorso-ventral axis of the hippocampus”, on Friday 29th May 2014.

    Alessia's examiners were Prof David Bannerman (Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford) and Dr Colin Lever (Durham University).  Alessia was supervised by Prof Jozsef Csicsvari and Prof Peter Somogyi.

    Alessia is pictured with Prof Csicsvari, and celebrating with her student colleagues.

     

     

     

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