January 2016 Staff News in Brief

Team Receives McKnight Memory and Cognitive Disorders Award

Ueli Rutishauser, PhD

Adam Mamelak, MD

The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience has awarded $300,000 to a team of Cedars-Sinai researchers and clinicians to study how neuronal activity is coordinated by brain rhythms and how this coordination allows the formation of new memories. The research has the potential to lead to a better understanding of how medicine and stimulation therapy may help restore memory function.

Ueli Rutishauser, PhD, director of Human Neurophysiology Research and assistant professor of Neurosurgery, and Adam Mamelak, MD, director of the Functional Neurosurgery Program and professor of Neurosurgery, are the principal investigators.

The project was among four in the U.S., chosen from 120 applicants, to receive the fund's prestigious 2016 Memory and Cognitive Disorders Awards, which support innovative research on the biology of brain diseases. The fund, led by a board of prominent neuroscientists, is supported by the McKnight Foundation of Minneapolis.

Group Led by Karlan Earns Grant for Ovarian Cancer Research

A Cedars-Sinai group led by Beth Y. Karlan, MD, has been awarded a program project grant from the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund to study ovarian carcinoma, one of the deadliest gynecologic cancers.

The three-year, $900,000 award will support a study into the evolution of ovarian carcinoma and the tumor microenvironment or stroma. The study will test if reprogramming the activated stroma can make therapy more effective and prevent tumor recurrence. It will also investigate stroma-induced changes in epithelial ovarian cancer cell growth and behavior and explore the metabolic relationship between tumor cells and activated stroma.

"This work could potentially provide new avenues for experimental anti-cancer therapies that could target not only malignant cancer cells but also the microenvironment that fosters tumor growth and survival," Karlan said.

Besides Karlan, members of the group are Sandra Orsulic, PhD, Ruprecht Wiedemeyer, PhD, and Paul-Joseph Aspuria, PhD. Karlan is director of the Women's Cancer Program at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, director of the Gilda Radner Hereditary Cancer Program, the Board of Governors Chair in Gynecologic Oncology and professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Digital Image Analysis Team Takes 8th Place in World Contest

Arkadiusz Gertych, PhD

Nathan Ing

Cedars-Sinai's team took top honors in North America and eighth place overall in an international competition in digital image analysis. More than 100 teams competed from academic institutions and companies worldwide.

The contest, organized by the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, was held in conjunction with the 18th International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention in Munich in October. Teams were challenged to design a new software algorithm for segmenting images of cancerous and normal colon tissues. Results were judged for accuracy against direct observations by pathologists.

Cedars-Sinai's contest entry was developed by the digital image analysis team at the Biobank and Translational Research Core Facility. Key team members included research associate Nathan Ing and Arkadiusz Gertych, PhD, assistant professor of Surgery and of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

Ljubimova Honored for Translational Medicine Achievements

Julia Ljubimova, MD, PhD, director of the Nanomedicine Research Center in the Department of Neurosurgery and the Nanomedicine Program at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, received a career award from the nonprofit ProteoMass Scientific Society.

The award cited her achievements in translational medicine. Ljubimova also is a professor of Biomedical Sciences and Neurosurgery.

The society, based at the University of Lisbon in Portugal, supports science through international conferences, education and research in medical proteomics, chemistry and nanotechnology.