Fruit flies, like many animals, engage in a variety of courtship and fighting behaviors. Assistant Professor Kenta Asahina and co-first authors Kenichi Ishii and Margot Wohl have uncovered the molecular mechanisms by which two sex-determining genes affect fruit fly behavior. The male flies’ courtship and aggression behaviors, they showed, are mediated by two distinct genetic programs. The findings, both published in eLife, demonstrate the complexity of the link between sex and behavior.Read News Release
Professor Satchin Panda studies circadian clocks, the internal programs that mediate our daily biological rhythms and affect our health. In two recent papers, Panda and his team examined how the body sets these clocks, while a third paper reveals what these rhythms can mean for our well-being.
In the first paper, Panda and colleagues reported a novel technique for determining how neurons communicate, which was employed in mice to uncover details about how the brain responds to light signals received by the retina. In the second study, Panda, Salk first author Ludovic Mure and colleagues reported the discovery of three cell types in the eye that detect light and align the brain’s circadian rhythm to ambient light.
In the third paper, Panda, Salk first author Emily Manoogian and colleagues described their clinical study of eating schedules based on circadian rhythms. They found that a 10-hour time-restricted eating intervention, when combined with traditional medications, resulted in a variety of health benefits for participants with metabolic syndrome, including weight loss, reduced abdominal fat, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and more stable blood sugar and insulin levels. This pilot study could lead to a new treatment option for patients who are at risk for developing life-altering and costly medical conditions such as diabetes.
Altered potassium levels in neurons may cause mood swings in bipolar disorder
People with bipolar disorder experience dramatic shifts in mood, oscillating between often debilitating periods of mania and depression. Now, a sweeping new set of findings by Professor and Salk President Rusty Gage, first author Shani Stern and colleagues has revealed previously unknown details about why some neurons in bipolar patients swing between being over- or underexcited. In two recent papers, the team used experimental and computational techniques to describe variations in potassium and sodium levels in brain cells derived from people with bipolar disorder, which may help to further explain why one-third of patients respond to lithium and the rest do not.Read News Release
Although alcohol use is ubiquitous in modern society, only a portion of individuals develop alcohol use disorders or addiction. Yet, scientists have not understood why some individuals are prone to developing drinking problems, while others are not. Professor Kay Tye and colleagues have discovered a brain circuit that controls alcohol drinking behavior in mice. The findings suggest a biomarker for predicting the development of compulsive drinking and may pave the way for a better understanding of human binge drinking and addiction.
- Apart but togetherAs COVID-19 spreads across the world, organizations like the Salk Institute have mobilized to respond. In this feature article, read about how the Institute is adapting and continuing its groundbreaking science.
- New COVID-19 research projectsIn addition to Salk’s ongoing research areas relevant to COVID-19, several new coronavirus-specific projects have recently launched. These innovative projects range from understanding the structure of the virus to mobilizing the body’s immune reaction.
- A conversation with Martin HetzerIn the last few months, Salk Vice President and Chief Science Officer Martin Hetzer spearheaded the Institute’s efforts to respond to the pandemic from both an administrative as well as a scientific perspective.
- Eiman Azim – Decoding dexterityIn this Q&A, Assistant Professor Eiman Azim shares his thoughts on what’s next in neuroscience, how all scientists are philosophers and what he learned about movement from observing his newborn.
- Nasun Hah – Next gen sequencingAs the director of the Next Generation Sequencing Core, Staff Scientist Nasun Hah collaborates with everyone from plant biologists to neuroscientists to provide support and information about sequencing genes and entire genomes.
- Update on initiatives to support diversity and BIPOCLearn about the Institute’s commitment to and actions around diversity and inclusion.
- Molly MattyMolly Matty, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Associate Professor Shrek Chalasani, shares what worms can teach us about human behavior, why science outreach is so important and why she enjoys puns.