The John B. Pierce Laboratory


Research Scientists develop model for studying Alzheimer’s disease

By Ziba Kashef

The vast majority of Alzheimer’s disease cases are not directly inherited but linked to environmental and genetic factors. Yet most models used for studying Alzheimer’s in animals mimic the inherited form of the disease.

Yale researchers developed a novel model that may prove useful to the study of Alzheimer’s at its earliest stages. Led by associate professor of neuroscience Justus Verhagen of The John B. Pierce Laboratory and research scientist Alla Ivanova, the researchers studied mice lacking a protein, Fus1, that helps regulate mitochondria — the structures that maintain the balance of critical functions within cells.

In tests, these animals exhibited a loss of smell as well as spatial memory — early signs of Alzheimer’s in people. If confirmed in further studies, the model could serve as an additional tool for understanding the role of Fus1 and mitochondria in the development of Alzheimer’s, said the researchers.

Read the full study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

Drs. Stachenfeld and Usselman receive the Paul E. Titus Fellowship in Obstetrics for 2016-2017

Drs. Nina Stachenfeld and Charlotte Usselman are recipients of the Paul E. Titus Fellowship in Obstetrics at Yale School of Medicine for 2016-2017.  This fund supports research into adverse pregnancy outcomes.  Preeclampsia affects ~5% of pregnancies, and is the leading cause of maternal-fetal morbidity and mortality world wide, including the United States.  The cardiovascular consequences of preeclampsia are particularly severe, and include hypertension and proteinuria.  Our ability to predict, prevent or cure preeclampsia (short of complete bed rest or delivery) is limited.  Drs. Stachenfeld and Usselman’s project, “Acute Cardiovascular Stressors to Determine Preeclampsia Risk” examines a number of measures targeting endothelial and sympathetic nervous system function in previously preeclamptic women as well as control participants.  These measures will uncover indicators of cardiovascular dysfunction that are unique to women who have a demonstrated increased risk for preeclampsia.  In the proposed study Stachenfeld and Usselman will, for the first time, test a range of cardiovascular stressors that activate different reflex loops known to be involved with preeclampsia. In doing so, the elucidation of novel but simple screening methods for preeclampsia will, in turn, lead to methods which will allow for preventative therapies, early detection, and/or targeted interventions for women with preeclampsia.

Colors of the covert world of the deep

By Madhuvanthi Kannan

Inhabiting the darkest realms of ocean waters near the Gulf of Mexico, animals such as the catshark use body fluorescence as a privy code to find and be found by their peers…and even perhaps, evade potential predators. Their skin proteins absorb the stray rays of sunlight to emit a brilliant green color. While other animals can be oblivious of its presence, only the catshark, with a yellow filter in its eye, can perceive the neon hue on its mates.

Scientists including Dr. Vincent Pieribone dive into oceanic depths to feast on the spectacular color of numerous fluorescent creatures. The play of light is not just a treat to their eyes, but holds promise to their everlasting endeavor of unraveling the mysteries of the human brain. By tagging cells and tissues with fluorescent proteins, they are on the brink of gaining unprecedented access to the inner workings of life.