New neuroscience journal club focused on movement and neurodegenerative disorders

When: Friday, March 18, 2022 (ongoing one Friday per month)
Where: Zoom
Contact: Douglas Martini (

The UMass Intercampus Movement and Neurodegenerative Disorders Interest Group is an intercampus collaboration aimed at creating a forum for research talk on movement and neurodegenerative disorders. Current attendees include folks from UMass Med, Lowell, and Amherst. We encourage participation (including presenting your work) from a wide range of disciplines, support students/trainees (presentation practice) and advance collaborations. We currently meet (Zoom) once a month on Fridays from 2-3pm. The next scheduled meeting is for March 18th. If you are interested in participating in the Interest Group or have follow-up questions, please contact Douglas Martini (


Inspiration Awards for Neuroscience and Technology

The Initiative on Neurosciences is pleased to announce Inspiration Awards for Neuroscience & Technology to support UMass graduate students and postdoctoral researchers proposing research at the interface of neuroscience and either engineering or computer sciences.

Funding amount: Up to $10,000 for single trainee awards and up to $15,000 for collaborative awards involving two or more trainees.
Funding is available for up to 8 awards.

The proposal must be for research that incorporates new methodologies or employs existing methodologies in new ways to address problems in neuroscience or problems inspired by neuroscience. This includes, but is not limited to, novel ways of collecting, analyzing, or modeling data.

Deadline for application, March 25, 2022

Proposals will be judged on the following criteria:
1) Creativity
2) Feasibility
3) Integration of neuroscience with engineering or computer sciences.

Considerations will be made to allocate awards broadly to across neuroscience, engineering, and computer science as well as demographically to broaden participation of women and under-represented groups. Demographic information will be collected separately and not available to the review panel.

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Student Spotlight – Kyle Kainec

Kyle Kainec with his family

Kyle Kainec is a 5th year NSB student in the Somneuro Lab led by Dr. Rebecca Spencer. His research interests broadly include using advanced neuroimaging tools and analysis techniques to investigate the intersection of sleep and memory consolidation. In 2021, Kyle co-authored 4 publications, received a Graduate School Dissertation Research Grant, and nearly submitted the first manuscript of his dissertation work investigating sleep-dependent associated memory consolidation in young adults. Kyle’s first, first author publication, titled “Age-related changes in sleep-dependent novel word consolidation”, was recently published in Acta Psychologica and contributes growing evidence that encoding strength is crucially important to understand the expression of sleep-dependent benefits in older adults. In the coming year, he looks forward to completing his dissertation work, expanding his industry involvement, and preparing for what is next. On behalf of the NSB community, congratulations to Kyle!

Publication: Kainec, K. A., Paracha, A. W., Ali, S., Bussa, R., Mantua, J., & Spencer, R. (2022). Age-related changes in sleep-dependent novel word consolidation. Acta psychologica, 222, 103478.


UMass Amherst is home to new collaborative Center on AI, Aging, and Alzheimer’s

Deepak Ganesan

UMass Amherst and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have just announced a new collaborative Center with a goal to improve in-home care for aging adults and patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The Massachusetts AI and Technology Center for Connected Care in Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease (MassAITC) aims to apply groundbreaking research and innovation to real world problems associated with in-home patient care. The center is meant to be a research accelorator– to bring projects that are still in the lab and transition them to the field. The $20 million grant over 5 years awarded to MassAITC, is funded by the National Institute on Aging which is a part of the National Institute of Health.

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Karine Fenelon and David Moorman awarded collaborative research seed grant

The UMass Amherst ADVANCE program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), began in 2018 to cultivate collaboration in science and engineering that furthers equity among faculty regardless of race, gender, or sexuality. One of three recent collaborative research seed grants was awarded to Dr. Karine Fenelon in Biology, and Dr. David Moorman in Psychological and Brain Sciences. The research project titled, Investigating Amygdala Circuit Dysfunctions in a Mouse Model Relevant to Schizophrenia aims to identify amygdala mechanisms that cause pre-pulse inhibition (PPI) deficits as promising drug targets, using a mouse model of schizophrenia. To do so, the team will perform in vitro (Fenelon group) and in vivo (Moorman group) electrophysiological recordings of neurons central to PPI. You can read more about Karine and David’s project, here. Congratulations to Karine and David!


ChangHui Pak and Gerry Downes awarded the Armstrong Fund for Science

The Armstrong Fund for Science was established in 2006 by benefactors John and Elizabeth Armstrong to help research projects gain more ground before they are eligible for traditional grants. The 2021 award was given to Biology’s Gerald Downes, and MCB’s ChangHui Pak for their collaborative research into the disruption of brain development by the mutation of a gene, TBCK. Mutations of the gene cause a rare condition called TBCK Syndrome. Professors Pak and Downes will receive funding of $40,000 for 2 years for the preliminary research needed to prepare for a larger research project.

ChangHui and Gerry hope to learn more about how the mutations in the TBCK gene cause the debilitating syndrome which leads to a high rate of mortality in children and adolescents with progressive loss of muscle tone, intellectual disability, and drug-resistant epilepsy among some of the symptoms. The collaboration will involve the zebrafish that the Downes Lab has already engineered with TBCK syndrome. Pak will be using pluripotent stem cells that will be engineered with the mutations specific to TBCK syndrome, grow them into neurons and compare the mutated cells with healthy cells. They are both excited to work together learning from each model.

The entire neuroscience community extends an enthusiastic congratulations and will look forward to seeing the progress!


UMass Neurosciences Publications – February 2021

Deepak Ganesan

This month’s featured researcher is Deepak Ganesan. He is a Professor in the College of Information and Computer Sciences. This month, he was the senior author on a paper in the Journal of Medical Internet Research entitled, “Effect of Sleep and Biobehavioral Patterns on Multidimensional Cognitive Performance: Longitudinal, In-the-Wild Study“. Deepak’s group is building wearable sensors for monitoring health. His work involves low-power sensing and communication, networked systems, and machine learning. His recent work includes the design of ultra-low passive radios for wearables, novel wearable technologies such as low-power eye trackers to monitor health signals, and robust detection of important health targets such as drug use, smoking, and over-eating

Here’s what else is new for ‘ ”University of Massachusetts” AND Amherst AND neuroscience’ in PubMed. These publications appeared on line in February. They are just a fraction of the neuroscience research that occurs on campus. You can click on the PubMed ID to find the publication.

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New Neuroscience Faculty

The Neurosciences at UMass continues to expand with the addition of several new faculty members in a number of departments and colleges.

Megan Huber, Chase Cornelison, Jennifer Rauch, Douglas Martini, Siyuan Rao

In the last year, UMass hired four new Assistant Professors who all approach neuroscience from different directions.

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UMass Neuroscience Publications – December 2019

This month’s Featured Researcher is Ilia Karatsoreos, who just joined the faculty of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Ilia’s research addresses how the body’s internal circadian clock and “stress response” systems help maintain mental and physical health.  His latest paper, which just appeared in the December issue of Frontiers in Neuroendrinology, reviews the research explaining how the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis interacts with downstream pathways to mediate resilience to environmental stresses.  Ilia is joining UMass from Washington State University. We are pleased to have him aboard. His lab is located in the newly renovated Neuroscience Wing on the 2nd floor of Morrill Science Center 4N.

Here’s what else is new for ‘ ”University of Massachusetts” AND Amherst AND neuroscience’ in PubMed. These publications appeared on line in December. They are just a fraction of the research that occurs on campus. You can click on the PubMed ID to find the publication.

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