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VIDEO: UCI Podcast Video Series: The race for COVID testing

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, Community Events, COVID-19

In March, the UCI Medical Center became the first hospital in Orange County to provide COVID-19 testing. In this episode of the UCI Podcast Video Series, UCI MIND faculty member Dr. Ed Monuki, chair of pathology who leads UCI Health’s testing efforts, discusses how the campus came together to address this community need and how future testing for the coronavirus and its antibodies will play an important role with the resumption of our regular daily activities, like going back to work or the classroom.

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The Alzheimer’s-Air Pollution Link

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, In the News

UCI MIND faculty member Masashi Kitazawa, PhD comments for Scientific American: “In a field where scientists have spent decades focused on genetics and the buildup of damaged protein fragments called beta-amyloid as causes of the disease…now many experts agree that air pollution plays a major role. This assessment is echoed by Masashi Kitazawa, a toxicologist at the University of California, Irvine, and an expert on environmental toxins. “Genetics is huge in Alzheimer’s research, and for years almost no one wanted to look beyond genes,” he says. “But in the past three or four years the number of papers linking air pollution and cognitive decline…

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Research team awarded $3.8 million to study molecular changes in the brain caused by Alzheimer’s disease

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, In the News

Irvine, CA – May 12, 2020 – A team of researchers from the University of California, Irvine and San Diego have been awarded $3.8 million by the National Institute on Aging to conduct an epigenomic analysis of neural circuits in the brain. By revealing molecular changes that occur during the course of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the team hopes to identify new therapeutic targets and molecular biomarkers for early detection and better treatment. The interdisciplinary research team is led by multiple principal investigators, including Xiangmin Xu, PhD, a professor of anatomy and neurobiology and director of the Center for Neural Circuit…

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Don’t Feel Bad If Your Kids Are Gaming More Than Ever. In Fact, Why Not Join Them?

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, COVID-19, In the News

While doing a video interview with TIME, Craig Stark, professor at the University of California, Irvine’s Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, said that his eighth grade son was on a headset chatting with his friends while gaming. “I’m great with that,” says Stark. Still, he adds, “if you’re gaming 20 hours a day, let’s get out, let’s do some other stuff, let’s not just talk to each other on a screen. But in terms of the notion that video games are actively rotting the brain? No, I don’t see any evidence for that.”

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UCI-led study finds modifiable risk factors could play a role in Alzheimer’s disease

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, In the News

Amyloid accumulation not the only risk factor in Alzheimer’s risk Irvine, Calif. – April 8, 2020 – Amyloid is a key feature of Alzheimer’s disease, but the accumulation of these sticky proteins may not be the only risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study published this week.  Other, modifiable risk factors, such as the amount of fats in our blood and how efficiently our bodies generate energy could also play important roles. 

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Dr. Mark Mapstone comments for The New York Times

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, In the News

Stalked by the Fear That Dementia Is Stalking You The New York Times (Kaiser Health News) – Feb. 20, 2020 I spoke to half a dozen experts, and none was in favor of genetic testing, except in unusual circumstances. “Having the APOE4 allele does not mean you’ll get Alzheimer’s disease. Plenty of people with Alzheimer’s don’t have the allele,” said Mark Mapstone, a professor of neurology at the University of California, Irvine. “And conversely, plenty of people with the allele never develop Alzheimer’s.” [Subscription required: LINK to article]

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Revived UCI Sleep Center Focuses on Mental Issues

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, In the News

Orange County Business Journal – Feb. 17, 2020 Dr. Ruth Benca, who is chair of the Psychiatry and Human Behavior School of Medicine at the University of California, Irvine in 2018 restarted the UCI sleep center. She’s designed a new, 6,000-square foot facility in Newport Beach … and has recruited doctors from a variety of fields, such as Dr. Kevin Im, who won a 2014 national award for a sleep study, Dr. Rami Khayat, the center’s medical director and expert on the effects of sleep apnea on cardiovascular diseases, and Dr. Behrouz Jafari, an expert in pulmonology. “We’ve built this…

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Dr. Craig Stark Comments for Science Magazine

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, Community Events, In the News

UCI MIND faculty member, Craig Stark, PhD was recently quoted in Science Magazine discussing the critical role scientists play in helping improve society. The article focuses on a push to better understand the science behind addiction, and how scientists are spreading evidence-based treatment knowledge through regional and national seminars. By regularly hosting seminars to gather scientific and legal experts, researchers can better inform the criminal justice system on how to improve substance abuse recovery rates in the incarcerated population. Dr. Stark, a neurobiologist who specializes in brain imaging at UCI, has presented at dozens of these legal seminars, speaking on…

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NPR Reports on the EXERT Study

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, In the News

NPR recently spoke on All Things Considered about the EXERT Study, a nationwide clinical trial of exercise led by Carl Cotman, PhD, UCI MIND’s Founding Director, and Laura Baker, PhD, Associate Director of the ADRC at Wake Forest School of Medicine. The study involves an 18-month exercise program at the local YMCA for 65-89 year-olds with Mild Cognitive Impairment. Throughout the program, researchers look at participants’ cognition, blood flow, atrophy (cell loss), and harmful protein accumulation in the brain. Researchers hope to learn about the clinical effect of exercise, as well as the scientific basis for their findings. NPR interviewed…

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UCI MIND scientists discover exercise can reprogram genes

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, In the News

Contributed by Carl W. Cotman, PhD and Nicole C. Berchtold, PhD It is increasingly recognized that exercise builds brain health. At a fundamental level, brain health and function depend on the expression of the brain’s genes, the building blocks of cells. In a recent paper that appeared in the journal “Neurobiology of Aging” (2019), Drs. Carl Cotman, Nicole Berchtold and coworkers demonstrated that in the brains of healthy older people, exercise reprograms gene expression patterns to a more youthful state, even in cognitively normal people (75-100 yrs old). Genes that were particularly targeted are those that boost cellular energy production and build…

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UCI MIND researchers define pathway required to slow Huntington’s disease progression in mice

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, In the News

Contributed by Joan Steffan, PhD In a recent paper published in Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences, colleagues and I show that a critical regulator of the immune system – called kinase IKKbeta – helps slow the onset of Huntington’s disease (HD) in mice, and this may be due to activation of a process called autophagy.  Autophagy helps cells clean out and recycle their ‘trash’. Accumulation of trash can occur as we age and when disease is present, so regular cleaning enabled by autophagy is critical to maintain cellular function. In HD, brain cell autophagy fails, leading to an accumulation of harmful proteins that…

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Commentary on new FDA warning for insomnia medications

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, In the News

Contributed by Bryce Mander, PhD The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently required some sleep medications which are commonly used to treat insomnia to add black box warning labels. The reason for this decision is because there have been reported incidents of individuals engaging in activities that commonly occur during wakefulness during sleep while on these medications, including sleep walking, sleep driving, sleep eating, and sleep cooking. On rare occasions, these symptoms have resulted in serious injuries or life-threatening incidents, which has led to the inclusion of the black box label. The FDA has also issued a contraindication for…

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Dr. Kim Green Comments on ‘Missing Microglia’ for The Atlantic

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, In the News

The Atlantic – April 11, 2019.  Kim Green, a neurobiologist at UC Irvine, notes mutant mice lacking microglia have broadly similar patterns of disorganization in their brains. These mice models essentially predicted what would happen in the human. He had just never expected to see a person without microglia. “It’s absolutely remarkable,” he says.

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Does Red Wine Really Help You Live Longer? Dr. Claudia Kawas Comments for TIME

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TIME – April 11, 2019. “Alcohol could be beneficial through biological mechanisms like increasing [healthy] HDL cholesterol, affecting clotting mechanisms and blood platelets, or [having] effects on the vascular system,” says Dr. Claudia Kawas, a professor of neurology at the University of California, Irvine whose research has found that some of the oldest-living adults tend to drink alcohol in moderation.

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Dr. Joshua Grill Discusses ‘Pseudomedicine’ with AARP

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, In the News

AARP – April 10, 2019. “A common situation is an older adult becoming concerned about their memory and taking a supplement to try to ward off dementia,” says Joshua Grill, director of the Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders at the University of California, Irvine. “But in reality, if they saw their doctor, they might find out that another medical condition such as hypothyroidism, or a certain prescription medication, is causing symptoms and can be easily treated. They’re just making things worse.” And if you do have dementia, he adds, you could start a drug treatment to relieve symptoms,…

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