“…Now the NIH Says That This Routine Gender Bias in Basic Research Must End.”

The New York Times article noted “For decades, scientists have embarked on the long journey toward a medical breakthrough by first experimenting on laboratory animals. Mice or rats, pigs or dogs, they were usually male: Researchers avoided using female animals for fear that their reproductive cycles and hormone fluctuations would confound the results of delicately calibrated experiments.”

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Restoring fading memories

Research in Mark Baxter’s laboratory, the Glickenhaus Laboratory of Neuropsychology, focuses on the neural systems underlying memory and other higher cognitive functions, and understanding how disturbances in these systems impair cognitive function in brain disorders. Our general approach is to study the effects on behavior of specific manipulations of neural circuits in animal models, to gain insight into how similar disruptions in human disease may be responsible for cognitive impairment.

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Study Finds Marijuana Can Be Harmful to Youngsters

A growing body of evidence suggests that the use of marijuana, or cannabis, can negatively impact the developing brains of approximately one in four adolescents, according to researchers at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and the University of Montreal.

The study, published in the August 16, 2013, issue of Neuropharmacology, highlights that the younger the user of cannabis, the more susceptible he or she is to delinquency, lower educational attainment, difficulty in conforming to an adult role, and mental health issues.

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Thinking Microglia

For most of us the word brain is synonymous with nerve cells or neurons. All of us are well familiar with the notion of the brain as a mega-computer where billions of neurons govern our life, from simplest tasks to the rare moments of discoveries. It may appear surprising to hear that the function of brain and neurons would not be possible without cells that do not participate in our thinking directly. Instead, these cells, that are called microglia, function as watchdogs of neuron’s functionality and health and remove neurons that stop acting properly.

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New Discoveries in Head and Neck Cancers

Shutting down inflammation within the body, and then harnessing the immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells, could provide the one-two punch needed to effectively treat head and neck cancers, according to researchers at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Research into the pivotal role played by the inflammatory molecule inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in promoting cancer growth and immune evasion is being led by Andrew G. Sikora, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor and Director of Head and Neck Translational Research in the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery.

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Cancer Researcher Ramon E. Parsons, MD, PhD, Joins Mount Sinai

Ramon E. Parsons, MD, PhD, a highly acclaimed researcher in cancer genetics, has joined Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai as the Ward-Coleman Chair in Cancer, and Chair of the Department of Oncological Sciences.

Dr. Parsons succeeds Stuart Aaronson, MD, Jack and Jane B. Aron Professor, whose significant discoveries in molecular oncology include identifying the first normal function of an oncogene, and its role in growth factor signaling. Dr. Aaronson has been appointed Founding Chair Emeritus of the Department of Oncological Sciences, and will continue to lead his highly funded laboratory at Mount Sinai.

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Dystonia Researchers Discover New Gene

A team of researchers at The Mount Sinai Medical Center and elsewhere recently discovered a causative gene for primary torsion dystonia (PTD), which sheds light on the genetic underpinnings of this debilitating movement disorder that affects an estimated 500,000 adults and children in North America. PTD is characterized by repetitive twisting muscle contractions throughout the body.

Drs. Laurie Ozelius and Tania Fuchs

The findings—which appear in the December 9, 2012, issue of Nature Genetics—identified the gene GNAL after exome sequencing was performed on two families with PTD. Further investigation into GNAL revealed six additional mutations of the gene. Exome sequencing is an effective, less expensive alternative to whole genome sequencing.

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