News

Scintillon Institute Investigator Awarded NIH R35 Early-Career Grant
Metabolism or the set of life-sustaining chemical reactions defines the very wellbeing of humans. But can we better understand how cellular metabolism goes awry in various human diseases? The National Institute of General Medical Sciences just granted Scintillon’s Dr. Valentin Cracan $2.4 million to find out more! The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) has recognized Dr. Valentin Cracan as one of the nation’s highly talented and promising scientists to receive a Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award for Early-Stage Investigators (R35 MIRA-ESI).  This grant provides about $2.4 million over five years to support the ongoing work at the Cracan’s lab that has received a number of NIH grants already since it was established about 3 years ago. We spoke with Valentin as we were interested in his research in the context of his new, special grant.    PATH TO SCINTILLON Valentin received his undergraduate degree in Biology and Biochemistry from the Moldova State University in the Republic of Moldova in 2005 and his Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from University of Michigan in 2012, where he studied the intracellular pathway for trafficking of vitamin B12 (cobalamin) in the laboratory of Professor Ruma Banerjee.  While in graduate school, Valentin significantly contributed to our understanding of vitamin B12-dependent cell metabolism. In 2012, he joined the laboratory of Professor Vamsi Mootha at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. There, he obtained further training in studying mitochondria, the energy factories of our cells and major hubs of cellular metabolism. In the winter of 2018, Valentin joined the Scintillon Institute faculty as an Assistant Professor. Continue reading

Does science save lives during this pandemic?
  - Did science save lives during this pandemic that we are still in? - Are Biomedical and Bioengineering Sciences interesting and important subjects?    “Yes!” many of today’s high school students will say that without hesitation.  But is science research a field where you want to build a career? Many students may still want to say “Yes…” but maybe blindly.   Scintillon Institute, a premium San Diego research institution for nonprofit purposes, has built its now famous Scintillon “SURE” (SUmmer REsearch) program to help top-performing high school students to find out for themselves whether conducting scientific research and becoming a career scientist is for them.  Continue reading

A New Twist in the Tale of Experimental Immunotherapies for Parkinson’s Disease
A New Twist in the Tale of Experimental Immunotherapies for Parkinson’s Disease A new study co-led by Scintillon Institute’s Associate Professor, Dr. Rajesh Ambasudhan, and Adjunct Professor Dr. Stuart Lipton (also a practicing Neurologist at UC San Diego) shows that certain immunotherapy approaches for Parkinson’s disease (PD) may cause harmful neuroinflammation by activating microglia (brain’s immune cells) and that this adverse effect could offset therapeutic benefits elicited by the antibody treatment. The study appeared in the April 13, 2021 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America. Continue reading

Celebrating Scintillon wins in early 2021
The Scintillon Institute is proud to announce the recent addition to its faculty, Dr. Albert Chen, who is a neurobiologist and a leading expert who specializes in examining the link between neural circuits and behavior in health and disease.  Albert Chen joins Scintillon Institute as an Associate Professor of Neuroscience after spending eight years at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Research in his lab employs a multidisciplinary approach to define the molecular, anatomical, and functional distinctions of brain centers important for coordination and refinement of movement, motor learning, and complex motivated behaviors using genetic and viral circuit tracing, neural manipulations, deep brain imaging and quantitative behavioral approaches in mice.   Continue reading

Scintillon Institute Receives $5,000 Donation from Vertex Pharmaceuticals
Scintillon Institute Receives $5,000 Donation from Vertex Pharmaceuticals   La Jolla, California August 14, 2018   Scintillon Institute for Biomedical and Bioenergy Research is honored to announce that it has received a $5,000 donation from Vertex Pharmaceuticals in support of the Summer Internship Program (SURE Program).  This donation marks the first corporate partnership for Scintillon, a rapidly growing nonprofit research institute, and will help expand this free program for high school students to create vital resume-building opportunities through faculty mentorship and experience working in professional research labs. Continue reading

Now accepting applications for SURE program
Scintillon Institute is now accepting applications for this summer's SURE program.   The Summer Internship Program (SURE Program) aims to introduce top high school applicants to basic scientific research and prepare them for college. One goal of this immersive research experience is to encourage and prepare the most talented high school students for successful careers in biomedical research. In addition, the SURE Program aims to create a pipeline of future scientists for the highly competitive and successful biomedical research community in San Diego County. The very best high school students from San Diego County school districts will be selected and invited to participate in the SURE Program. A Scintillon Institute faculty member will be the student’s scientific mentor and will introduce the student to the program’s curriculum and guide the student through to graduation of the program. The SURE Program has a specially tailored curriculum that aligns the students’ time constraints with the commitment required by basic research.   Applications are due by 5pm on March 30, 2018.  More details can be found under Summer Program.    

Crowdfunding Campaign Live
Scintillon Institute launches its first crowdfunding campaign!   Did you know that 2.7 million Americans suffer from glaucoma and over 65% are women? Scintillon Institute believes the future of science begins today. But we need your help! We aim to purchase a confocal microscope for our newly established Eye Disease Research Center.  Our goal is $500,000 by December 31. As a thank you, we are offering exciting perks, such as tickets to our 'Healthy Aging' lecture series and an exclusive lunch with our top scientists.    To learn more and donate, please visit our campaign page.   Thank you for sharing our vision!    

A Promising Finding to Combat Autism
Promising Finding to Combat Autism San Diego, CA        A group of researchers at Scintillon Institute in San Diego, California demonstrated a promising therapeutic intervention for autism in an animal model.  This study, published today in Nature Communications under the title of “NitroSynapsin therapy for a mouse MEF2C haploinsufficiency model of human autism”, proposes a therapeutic strategy to mitigate the hallmarks of MEF2C haploinsufficiency syndrome (MCHS), a condition where patients who carry one copy of defective MEF2C gene suffer from severe neurological conditions including autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities, and seizures.   Neurons of normal versus mutant cells   Continue reading

Scintillon team to play key role in center for creating bioluminescent neuroscience tools
01 August 2017 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Scintillon team to play key role in center for creating bioluminescent neuroscience tools San Diego, CA In a new collaboration, scientists will advance and freely circulate a research technology that makes brain cells able to produce, respond to, and communicate with light. Nathan Shaner, Ph.D. will lead Scintillon Institute’s contribution to a national center dedicated to developing and disseminating new tools based on bioluminescence. The five-year grant from the National Science Foundation aims to develop tools to give nervous system cells the ability to make and respond to light. Neuroscientists can use these tools to manipulate and observe the circuitry of the brain in a variety of model organisms.   “NeuroNex Technology Hub” is a new collaboration of labs at Brown University, Central Michigan University and the Scintillon Institute. The team will improve upon and combine several unique bioengineering technologies to create new research capabilities, rooted in bioluminescence-the natural ability of cells to make light. They will then make their advances rapidly, easily, and freely available to the global scientific community.     Shaner joins co-principal investigators Diane Lipscombe, Brown professor of neuroscience and director of the Brown Institute for Brain Science, and Ute Hochgeschwender, professor at CMU, on a team led by Christopher Moore, a professor of neuroscience at Brown. Justine Allen, a Brown neuroscience PhD alumna, will be the center’s administrative director.   Creating a curriculum, which combines elements of biology, chemistry, physics and engineering, to engage and educate high school students will be a key facet of the center’s mission.   “The highly visual nature of this research is a great way to get young people interested in science,” said Shaner. “Being able to see living neurons lighting up as they fire under a microscope can be a transformative experience for them.” Continue reading

The US Department of Defense Funds New Direction in Monitoring and Stimulating Neurons for Directly Interfacing with the Brain
  Jun 8, 2017, San Diego: Scintillon Institute Associate Professor Nathan Shaner is part of a nine-laboratory team that has been awarded a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as part of President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative. This project, dubbed “IBIS: Implantable bioluminescence interface system for an all-optical neuroprosthesis to the visual cortex,” will be funded under DARPA’s Neural Engineering System Design (NESD) program.             Ultimately, the IBIS team seeks to develop a neural interface system capable of simultaneously recording from more than one million neurons and stimulating more than one hundred thousand neurons in regions of the human sensory cortex. Accomplishing this goal will be a huge leap forward from existing neural interfaces, which are limited to much smaller numbers of neurons, and are too bulky and invasive to be used in human therapies. Continue reading

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