In this edition of Research Connections, find links to researchers in the news, updates on important deadlines, and more news for University of Rochester researchers. Email not displaying correctly?
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Poster sessions: How a good idea originated

"The format of most large scientific meetings leaves much to be desired," Thomas Maugh lamented in the journal Science in 1974. "The typical paper is usually about 10 minutes long and is filled with only partially intelligible jargon; it is often read in a wavering monotone by a nervous graduate student or postdoctoral fellow who has never presented a paper before." Fortunately, Maugh reported, a better approach had made its American debut earlier that year: the poster session!

Yes, this mainstay of modern research conferences and seminars -- such as last December's poster session of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, shown above -- is of fairly recent origin. Francoise Waquet, Director of Research at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, traces the first such session to a meeting at the Medical Research Council Toxicology Research Unit in Carshalton, England in 1967, where relatively small, 3 foot by 1.5 foot posters were placed on easels. These posters contained tables and graphs, but very little text.

The concept caught on quickly at a time when conference attendees -- and the papers they submitted -- were increasing dramatically across many disciplines. Organizers were forced to severely limit oral presentations and hold concurrent sessions. Poster sessions not only made it easier logistically to present hundreds, even thousands of projects, but were welcomed by researchers. "Perhaps the most frequently cited advantage of the sessions was that they allowed more time for the authors to present the subject matter to those really interested and more time for those interested to digest the material," Maugh noted in the 1974 article. "It is beginning to look as though the poster session is an idea whose time has definitely come."

(Next: Some tips on effective poster design.)

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NIH offers Clinical and Translational Research Course for Ph.D. students

The NIH Clinical and Translational Research Course for Ph.D. Students is an intensive two-week introduction to the process of clinical and translational research from concept to implementation. It can be an eye-opening experience.

Just ask Amanda Croasdell.

"It was inspiring to see the research opportunities available and to experience the collaborative and supportive research system first hand," says Croasdell, one of four UR students to attend last summer's course. The fourth-year toxicology student had been considering work at the National Institutes of Health as a potential career path. The course "definitely increased my interest. It was really incredible to learn about the programs involved in one of NIH's newest divisions, NCATS (National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences)."

Students interested in attending this summer's course, to be held July 7-18 at Bethesda, MD, can call (301) 435-8015 or visit The application deadline is April 1. This training is offered by the NIH Clinical Center at no cost. Participants are responsible for their travel and housing.

Two opportunities to "get savvy" about grant funding

Sponsored research funding is ever more competitive to come by, as research budgets at federal agencies have barely kept up with inflation over the past decade. Application rates are at an all-time high and funding rates are lower than ever.

Don't get discouraged: Get savvy! Here are two opportunities to learn new strategies to improve your grant writing and your success rate.

1. The AS&E Dean's office is pleased to bring to River Campus a two-day, four-session Grant Winners Workshop on April 7-8. It will be led by Robert E. Porter, a national leader in research development with 30 years experience as a tenured professor, private consultant and research administrator. His proposals have won more than $8 million in awards from government agencies and private foundations. The sessions, which will be held in 407 Schlegel, are relevant for all research-active faculty, advanced graduate students, postdocs, and staff who both assist faculty in grant preparation and are grant writers themselves.

The sessions will focus on: Writing Successful Grants, Writing the NSF Career Proposal, Grants in the Humanities and Social Sciences, and Strategies for Success in Sponsored Research.

The workshop is free of charge but space is limited; registration by March 24 is required. Click here for the full agenda, and here to register for individual sessions or the entire workshop.

The sessions are highly interactive. Please come prepared to participate.

2. National Institutes of Health (NIH) regional seminars are excellent sources of information for early and young investigators, grants administrators, graduate students and postdocs. The 2014 Regional Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration, to be held June 25-27 in Baltimore, will a) demystify the application and review process; b) clarify federal regulations and policies; and c) highlight current areas of special interest or concern.

With grant funding ever more competitive to acquire, and only one Regional Seminar being held this year, UR researchers and support staff are encouraged to attend. Click here for more information or to register; inquiries regarding the seminar can also be directed to:

GEVA play prompts panel discussion on ethics in human subject research

Informed Consent, a play inspired by a true story of the Havasupai Tribe and the legal battle to limit research on tribe members' DNA, will open at Geva Theater this spring. A panel discussion and conversation with the playwright Deb Laufer; director Sean Daniels; Peter Jemison, Ganondagan Site Manager; Chin-To Fong, Associate Professor of Genetics; and medical student Jamie Tyrrell will be held from noon to 2 p.m., March 5 in the Ryan Case Method Room (1-9576). Margie Shaw will moderate.

Click here to learn more.

Citation clinics offered at River Campus Libraries

Need help citing resources for your class or research, or understanding the difference between MLA and APA? River Campus Libraries can help! During these citation clinics, you will learn about the various tools available for keeping track of your resources and for creating bibliographies.

Drop in with your citation-related questions or for tips on how to use RefWorks, EndNote, Zotero, and Mendeley for your courses and research. For clinic dates and times, click here or contact Rush Rhees Reference.

Symposium examines neuroscience of musical performance and dystonia

Playing a musical instrument requires movements of such high accuracy and precision that numerous practice hours are necessary, including high repetition of specific movements and adjustments in response to errors. This is accompanied by changes in brain function that may lead to a dystonia, a movement disorder that is frequently career-ending. Even though the high repetition in practice and precise integration of cognitive, sensory, and motor mechanisms seem to be risk factors for the aberrant plasticity in dystonia, the underlying cause remains unknown.

The disorder will be discussed March 6-8 at "Neurobiology and Neurology of Highly Skilled Motor Performance in Musicians," a symposium sponsored by the Schmitt Program on Integrative Brain Research. The symposium will focus on three themes: 1) the neurobiology of motor control and learning in highly skilled tasks, 2) the neurology of dystonia in musicians, and 3) the neuroscience of musical performance and potential strategies for injury prevention.

Click here for the event program and registration information.

Crossing Elmwood: Mitigating traumatic brain injury

"The sounds of the Sochi Games are a whack and the clatter of boards and skis, followed by wails -- or worse, a terrible stillness. The mounting crash toll includes a broken back, a broken jaw and an assortment of head injuries. The logo for this Olympics ought to be a stretcher." -- Sally Jenkins, Washington Post sports columnist

TV images of Olympic snowboarders and skiers, sprawled on the slopes of Sochi after suffering concussions, offered stark evidence of a problem that motivates the research collaboration of Jeffrey Bazarian, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and Public Health Sciences; Eric Blackman, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, and Jianhui Zhong, Professor of Imaging Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, and Physics & Astronomy.

Their multidisciplinary approach to understanding and mitigating traumatic brain injury, described at last week's Crossing Elmwood presentation, is important because of:

1. The growing evidence that even less severe, sub-concussive hits to the head, if repeated often enough, can cause "white matter" brain damage that may lead to CTE -- Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. This form of dementia, characterized by anger and agitation, has occurred in football players and boxers in their 30s and 40s.

2. The large number of such hits that high school and collegiate football players sustain in a single season. Studies of athletes whose helmets were equipped with impact sensors show 175 to 1,444 hits per athlete per season.

One of the challenges in researching this problem is that the damage is not easily detected. Severe head hits stretch the axons in nerve cells, causing tiny holes to form and even causing the cells to shut down altogether. This cannot be detected by traditional hospital neuroimaging with a CAT or MRI scan -- or even with an autopsy unless conducted within an hour or so of the injury, Bazarian noted.

So he has benefited immensely from the opportunity to collaborate with Zhong and Blackman. Zhong has shown how Diffusion Tensor Imaging can detect the axonal damage that occurs even with sub-concussive hits. Blackman has helped identify and describe the linear and rotational forces that damage the brain by compression and shear during a blow to the head. This is important in designing safer helmets and correlating observed brain injury with severity of impact.

Initial findings, based on tracking UR football players who wore helmets with impact sensors for an entire season, show that:

1. A single season of repetitive sub-concussive head blows, even without any cases of clinically-evident concussion, resulted in white matter changes detectable with Diffuse Tensor Imaging.

2. The changes persisted following six months of no contact, suggesting that white matter brain damage from these and subsequent hits to the head could be cumulative.

Still to be determined: Is this indeed the kind of damage, and to what degree, that leads to CTE?

In the meantime, "I really do want to emphasize the team approach to getting this problem analyzed," Bazarian noted. "None of us could have done this work alone. It's been a wonderful collaboration to work with these two physicists to understand how hits to the head cause all these problems."

Click here to learn more about the study and here for an overview of head trauma research at the UR.

Introducing a new faculty member

Jian Zhu has joined the Department of Microbiology and Immunology as an assistant professor. Zhu's research involves systematic approaches towards the understanding of host-virus interactions -- particularly for HIV and herpesviruses -- by using recently developed, "state-of-the-art", multidisciplinary systematic approaches at the interface of virology, immunology, cellular and molecular biology, proteomics, and functional genomics. Zhu received a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2009 and completed a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Stephen Elledge in the Division of Genetics at Harvard Medical School in 2013.

Congratulations to . . .

Suxing Hu, Senior Scientist in the Theory Division of the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, who has been named an American Physical Society fellow for his work on attosecond physics, physics that happens in ultrafast times.

Researcher in the news

A panel of experts at the recent American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) annual meeting in Chicago detailed the impact that constant exposure to air pollution may have on the developing brain. According to the organizer of the panel, Deborah Cory-Slechta, Professor of Environmental Medicine, air pollution is a cocktail of various metals and gases, often consisting of many different sized particles. "The component people worry about the most are the smallest particles -- the ultrafine particles," Cory-Slechta told "And the reason is because those go all the way down into the bottom of the lung. Once they get to the bottom of the lung, they can be absorbed into the blood stream." The panel noted that a series of mouse models have suggested that constant inhalation of air pollution may lead to enlargement of the brain's ventricles -- a hallmark of neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.

Mark your calendar

March 4: Crossing Elmwood seminar: Ultrasound Technologies for Tissue Engineering, presented by Diane Dalecki, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Director of the Rochester Center for Biomedical Ultrasound, and Denise Hocking, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Physiology and of Biomedical Engineering. 12:15-1:15 p.m., Helen Wood Hall Auditorium (1w-304).

March 5: CTSI Town Hall Meeting, 4-5 p.m., Helen Wood Hall Auditorium (1w-304). Topics will include UR Connected, new i2b2 features, the Research Coordinator Development Initiative, and new directions for the CTSI.

March 5: Panel discussion about ethics in human subject research, based on Informed Consent, a play inspired by a true story of the Havasupai Tribe and the legal battle to limit research on tribe members' DNA. Noon to 2 p.m., Ryan Case Method Room (1-9576). Click here to learn more.

March 6-7: Grant Writing and Proposal Development Presentation, Society of Research Administrators International, Tampa, Fla. Learn more.

March 6-8: "Neurobiology and Neurology of Highly Skilled Motor Performance in Musicians," the Schmitt Program on Integrative Brain Research Symposium. Medical Center, Memorial Art Gallery and Eastman School of Music. Click here for the event program and registration information.

March 11: Crossing Elmwood seminar: Using MRI to predict visual recovery after tumor resection, presented by G. Edward Vates, Associate Professor of Neurosurgery and of Medicine (Endocrine/Metabolism), and Brad Mahon, Assistant Professor of Brain & Cognitive Sciences, of Neurosurgery and the Center for Visual Science. 12:15-1:15 p.m., Helen Wood Hall Auditorium (1w-304).

March 13: "Ethics in Research: Consent Quandaries," 2014 CTSI Symposium, 8 a.m., Helen Wood Hall Auditorium. This one-day symposium will address quandaries in research consent where there are likely to be gaps in knowledge or controversies about the best approach. The topics that will address these gaps include new tools for research consent; methods to address consent comprehension; the unique aspects of consent in settings like special populations, high-risk settings, community participatory research and comparative effectiveness research; and the special challenges of training community partners to obtain consent and conduct research. Register here.

March 15: Deadline to apply for Bioinformatics Pilot Awards. Click here to find the RFA.

March 18-20: 8th Pre-Award Research Administration Conference, National Council of University Research Administrators, San Francisco. Learn more.

March 21-22: The 59th annual Rochester Ophthalmology Conference aims to help ophthalmologists, optometrists, and allied health care professionals update their practices by incorporating evidenced-based therapies, surgical techniques, and scientific insights. Flaum Atrium at the School of Medicine and Dentistry. Registration and more information is available online.

Please send suggestions and comments to Bob Marcotte.. To see back issues, click here.

Copyright 2013, All rights reserved.
Rochester Connections is a weekly e-newsletter for all faculty, scientists, post docs and graduate students engaged in research at the University of Rochester. You are receiving this e-newsletter because you are a member of the Rochester community with an interest in research topics.