Second Annual BHI Symposium was held on Dec 16th 2016

More than 160 faculty, post-doc, students and staff from Rutgers, NJIT & Princeton attended the day-long Second Annual BHI Symposium at the Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg, NJ.  Dr. Gyorgy Buzsaki from NYU gave a very interesting keynote lecture on "Emergence of Cognition from Action". The symposium included talks by the 2015 BHI-RUN-NJIT pilot grant awardees on their funded project. Matthew Scarnati, a PhD student in Dr. Ken Paradiso's lab in Cell Biology & Neuroscience and Anna Giarratana, a MD, PhD student in Dr. Janet Alder's lab in Neuroscience & Cell Biology were selected for platform talks from the abstracts submitted for the poster presentation. The Rutgers Neuroengineering group (RU-NEG) faculty Drs. Joachim Kohn, Hilton Kaplan and Antonio Merolli gave mini talks to highlight the expertise and collaborative opportunities available with RUN-NEG. The poster session at the end of the day included more than 45 posters. Twelve faculty from across Rutgers served as judges for the Best poster awards. First, Second and Third prizes were awarded  to Matthew Scarnati (Dr. Ken Paradiso's lab), Aminat Saliu (Dr. Teresa Wood's lab) and Edward Martinez (Dr. Tracy Tran's lab), respectively.

BHI Plans a New Addiction Research Center

Our nation is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic. More people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record, and the majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involved an opioid. Since 1999, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids—including prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin—nearly quadrupled, and over 165,000 people have died from prescription opioid overdoses. Prescription pain medication deaths remain far too high, and in 2014, the most recent year on record, there was a sharp increase in heroin-involved deaths and an increase in deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

Heroin deaths in New Jersey are up 160 percent since 2010, with more than 1,200 overdose-related deaths last year alone which is 3-times the national average. In 2015, more than 28,000 New Jerseyans sought treatment for heroin or opioid abuse, significantly outpacing previous year’s figures. The heroin death rate in five counties – Camden, Ocean, Cape May, Union, and Middlesex – significantly exceeds the number of treatment beds available per 100,000 people.

The Rutgers Addiction Research Center (ARC) will build collaborations among scientists with the multidisciplinary expertise required to advance our understanding of the causes of opioid addiction. Housed within the Rutgers Brain Health Institute, ARC will be composed of faculty across all Rutgers schools and campuses with expertise in addiction prevention, research, treatment, education, and public policy, especially including Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS), New Jersey Medical School (NJMS), School of Arts and Sciences, Center for Alcohol Studies, Center for Tobacco Studies, School of Public Health, School of Social Work, School of Nursing, University Behavioral Health Care, School of Pharmacy, and the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research. ARC will be the only comprehensive addiction center in NJ with the capacity to impact the addiction epidemic through the diverse strengths of its members by integrating the following cutting edge approaches:

  • Precision Medicine research and knowledge development that crosses multiple disciplines and addresses individual differences and needs in addiction treatment.
  • Treatment and care of individuals and families coping with addiction.
  • Public policy innovation and reform aimed at preventing development of drug use and at more effective avenues for addicts to obtain treatment.
  • Training of tomorrow's research, clinical, and criminal justice workforces in all aspects of addiction science.

Several On-going BHI Faculty Recruitments

To strengthen neuroscience at Rutgers, BHI is currently in the midst of recruiting new faculty in each of the four focus areas. The recruitments include-

  • The Greg Brown Endowed Chair in Computational and Cognitive Neuroscience and Director of a new human fMRI Center in Piscataway.
  • The Herbert C. and Jacqueline Krieger Klein Endowed Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease and Neurodegeneration Research.
  • The Director of the new Rutgers University Center for Autism Research (RuCARes).
  • A junior/mid-level faculty position in Motivational Neuroscience.

Several highly qualified candidates are visiting Rutgers this Fall & Winter for these positions.


BHI Post-doc awarded 2016-2017 Banting Fellowship

Mohsen Omrani, PhD, post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Gary Aston-Jones lab at BHI was award the prestigious Banting Fellowship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The two-year Can$ 140,000 award is for a grant application entitled- "Neuromodulators and modification of cognitive functions: role of norepinephrine in sensory processing"

Rutgers-NJMS post-doc awarded JDRF fellowship

Vishwendra Patel, MD,PhD, post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Vanessa Routh's lab received a 3 year $188,000 fellowship from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for his project- "The role of perifornical hypothalamic orexin-glucose inhibited neurons in hypoglycemia awareness".