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Altered neurobiology of learning and memory
Please contact Dr. Susanna Rosi (rosis@ptrehab.ucsf.edu)
Assistant Professor, Brain & Spinal Cord Injury Center
San Francisco General Hospital

We are seeking highly motivated medical students to work with us in different projects aimed to study the altered neurobiology of learning and memory using animal models.

In my laboratory we study in vivo how local neuroinflammation and oxidative stress (induced by brain irradiation or i.c.v LPS infusion) disrupts activity patterns associated with synaptic plasticity and memory consolidation and contributes to the cognitive dysfunction associated with the initial stages of neurodegenerative diseases and neuroinflammatory-related disorders. Our long term goal is to understand how the presence of activated microglia and oxidative stress affects learning and memory. This is of critical importance for the development of strategies to prevent cognitive impairments associated with brain injury (i.e. therapeutic irradiation) and neuroinflammatory-related neurodegenerative disease (i.e. Alzheimer’s Disease).

Area of Expertise
Alzheimer’s disease, radiation induced cognitive dysfunctions, chronic neuroinflammation, oxidative stress, hippocampus, neurodegeneration, neuron-glia communication, activated microglia, immediate early gene, synaptic plasticity, cognitive impairment, spatial memory consolidation, anti-inflammatory drugs, glutamate receptors, NMDAR-antagonists, TNFa and TNFa-inhibitors.


  • glia modulation upon neuronal activity during synaptic plasticity and memory consolidation.
    • Arc (activity regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein) is a good marker of synaptic plasticity because it is induced by learning and is essential for memory consolidation.
    • TNFa, TNFa-inhibitors
    • NMDAR, NMDAR inhibitors
  • stability of hippocampal network during chronic neuroinflammation and treatment with NMDAR antagonists
  • Brain Irradiation oxidative stress and altered synaptic plasticity and memory.
  • New born neurons integration in hippocampal network during chronic neuroinflammation.
  • Information processing in the hippocampus (input and output in the entorhinal cortex-dentate-hippocampal system).

The Job: will involve training and handling rodents for hippocampal dependent behavior experiments. Brain harvesting, dissection, and cryo- sectioning; tissues staining for immediate early gene detection using compartmental analysis of temporal activity with Fluorescent in situ Hybridization (cat-FISH) and fluorescence immunohistochemistry procedures, microscopy imaging, analysis of the data and help write it up!

The Rewards: Authorship in publications, a better understanding basic research using animal models and cutting edge molecular biology techniques, experience with scientific writing, basic statistic.

This is an excellent opportunity for students that may be interested in understanding the mechanisms of learning and memory.
The level of participation is flexible and includes the possibility of taking a year off to work on a project as a pair research assistant if interested.

John R Fike PhD, Professor, Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Center, Neurological Surgery, University of California San Francisco

Carol Barnes, Ph.D.
Regents' Professor, Psychology and Neurology
Director, Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute
Chair for Learning and Memory in Aging, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Victor Ramirez Amaya, PhD.
Assistant Professor, Instituto de Neurobiologia, Univercidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Queretaro, Mexico.

Nigel Greig, PhD.
Senior Investigator, National Institute of Health, Drug Design and Development Section, Laboratory of Neurosciences, NIA Gerontology Research Center, Baltimore, MD

Almira Vazdarjanova PhD.
Assistant professor, Department of Neurology Center for Synapses and Cognitive Neuroscience Medical Collage of Georgia, Augusta GA.

Updated: February 8, 2008
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