Update : Expert Research Blog of the Year!

23 03 2010

Research Blogging Awards 2010 Winner!

Brain Windows just won the expert-level category for the researchblogging.com 2010 awards! Thank you for voting. I will try to keep the posting frequency and quality up. And I finally figured out how the citation thing works with researchblogging.org so all my new posts will be included on their aggregator and I’ll try to import the relevant older ones as well.

I also want to get back to posting some raw science data that will probably never make it into a publication. BrainWindows, the future journal of calibration curves and negative results 🙂

Now back to lab meeting prep…


UCSD vs. MIT SFN Party Smackdown

3 11 2007

The Society for Neuroscience conference starts today in America’s Finest City (San Diego). The question on everyone’s mind is, who is going to throw the best party? Sure there are plenty of themed mixers and socials, but few really stay interesting for long.

The past few years, the Picower Center for Learning and Memory at MIT has consistently had the biggest bash, really peaking in 2006 at the eye-popping Atlanta mega-club Compound. With a big open bar tab that unfortunately gets drained within an hour, and an open invitation, these are always packed with people early on, go strong till last call, and feature plenty of Neuroscience ‘star power’. This year, the party starts Monday at 9pm at Deco’s on 5th Ave. in the Gaslamp. Get there early, as Deco’s is a relatively small place.

Nature and Neuron each throw lower-key parties, with the best hors d’oeuvres and are definitely the place to do serious science/business networking. Security is pretty loose, as long as you let the door know that you know that the party is for Nature or Neuron. When and where these parties might be in San Diego is under intense investigation by BrainWindows staff.

The most exclusive of all are the mysterious Emory parties, where you better bring the printout of your personalized invitation email if you want to get in.

This year, there is a new group that is trying to dethrone the PCLM as hosts of the biggest event. UCSD Neurosciences is hosting an open-invite, open-bar event this Sunday at Aubergine, at 4th & Island in the Gaslamp. The bar tab opens at 9pm, and if the PCLM parties are any guide, I would get there at 9. Bring friends!

UCSD Neurosciences Party

Who will impress the community the most? PCLM has a five year reputation, and the experience of Earl Miller and Susumu Tonegawa behind it. But UCSD knows San Diego, and it’s grad-student run social committee has held numerous, very successful local events. As a soon-to-be alum of both UCSD and PCLM, I’m looking forward to finding out who does it best. See you there!

Brainbow mice are out

2 11 2007

Jeff Lichtman‘s Brainbow mouse paper is out! Not that I really need to report that news, as it is, of course, on the cover of Nature. Jean Livet comes up with some really clever genetic strategies involving incompatible, overlapping Lox sites to generate random, combinatorial patterns of multiple fluorescent proteins inside the cell. Around 90 different shades can be discerned by spectral deconvolution.

Besides making pretty covers, why is this so cool?

Well, this technique provides a method for generating high resolution maps of the brain. With a single fluorescent tag, the processes of neighboring cells blur together and became impossible to trace unambiguously. With brainbow, many neighboring axons are clearly resolvable. This is the perfect genetic tool to use for a large-scale, all-out effort for the complete mapping of the circuitry of the mouse brain. It would be a tremendous challenge, but perhaps no more difficult than the human genome project. A large public consortium, or a Celera of the brain can really attack the connectivity problem now.

Of course, there still is the more difficult problem of showing the functional connectivity of the circuit map. Then again, this technique isn’t limited to swapping in static fluorescent tags. The insert cassette could be doped with a single FP functional indicator like G-CaMP2… Would this allow the combination of static circuit mapping with functional testing?