News in Brief

Promise for Education Campaign Ending This Week

The University of California’s Promise for Education campaign is ending this Thursday, Oct. 31.
UC Irvine Chancellor Michael V. Drake, the first to reach his $10,000 goal and the long-standing first on the program’s list of top promises, has raised more than $19,000 to date.
Number two on the list is UC Berkeley’s new chancellor, Nicholas Dirk with more than $2,000 over his $10,000 promise. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, whose goal is also set at $10,000 stands as number three on this list with more than $11,000. Jamie Foxx stands fourth on the list, about $10,000 short of his $20,000 goal, and UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry Yang stands as number five, surpassing his $10,000 by a little over $200.
Promise for Education is a six-week crowd-funding campaign that aims to raise grants and scholarships for UC students through social media.
Started on Sept. 18, the public was encouraged to campaign for donations by making a promise and setting a fundraising goal to be reached for the fulfillment of the promise. According to the program website’s counter, the fundraising program has raised more than $1,155,960 as of Sunday, Oct. 27.
The campaign site encourages participants to donate in order to enable the UC to help its students:
“For generations the University of California has been a launch pad for people who have gone on to change the state and the world. Our promise, as a public research university, has always been to provide the brightest Californians a world-class education at an affordable price… But the last five years of deep budget cuts have led to higher tuition and left some students without the financial help they rely on to graduate. Now it’s time for your promise.”

Neurobiology Professor Recieves Award for Research

Dr. Tallie Z. Baram of the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology will be receiving the 2013 Bernard Sachs Award at the 42nd annual Child Neurology Society meeting this Friday, Nov. 1, in Austin, Texas, and will give a lecture entitled “Shaping the 4D Brain” at the conference.
“Receiving the Sachs Award is rewarding and humbling, and I’m thankful for the recognition,” Baram said. “But, as Frank Sinatra sings, I believe the best is yet to come.”
The award is given to honor a physician or scientist of international status that has executed leading research in the field of neuroscience in regards to the care of children with neurological disorders. It is widely recognized as the highest accolade in the field of children’s brain research, and can be considered the crowning achievement of a scientific career.
Dr. Baram is currently the Danette Shepard Chair of Neurological Sciences and has spent a total of 18 years at UC Irvine. During her time here, she founded the UCI Epilepsy Research Center, became the first woman to receive the American Epilepsy Society’s Epilepsy Research Recognition Award, and was the first of three faculty members to receive the Senator Jacob Javits Award in the Neurosciences.
Last June, Dr. Baram received a $10 million grant from the Silvio O. Conte Center from the National Institute of Mental Health and formed the Conte Center on Brain Programming and Adolescent Vulnerabilities, aimed at creating an extensive overview of maternal influences on childhood cognitive and emotional development and brain structure to aid in identifying children who may be susceptible to adolescent mental health disorders.
“Rhythms and patterns are well-known to influence individual synapses, or connections among brain cells,” she said. “They are also closely involved in the function of large sets of brain cells called brain networks. We believe that the patterns and rhythms — and especially their complexity and predictability versus fragmentation and unpredictability — shape the structure and function of the fetal and young child’s brain.”
The center’s interdisciplinary studies combine research with animals on the neurobiological and molecular level, behavioral research with children and neuroimaging and computational statistical analyses to achieve their goals and help create more effective treatments for children.
UCI’s current Dr. Stanley van den Noort Endowed Chair of Neurology, Dr. Steven Small, will be overseeing the Conte Center’s neuroimaging work.
“This effort will link fundamental neuroscience to direct human clinical care in a very exciting and innovative way. It all reflects Tallie’s passion and abilities to take basic findings from the lab and apply to new treatments. It’s the epitome of excellent translation research,” Noort said.
Dr. Baram views the Bernard Sachs Award as a stepping stone to her future endeavors.
“The concept of early-life brain programming as an important influence on vulnerability and resilience later in life is crucial and huge. I am proud to contribute to studying this topic in a new way,” she said. “We’re just beginning.”

Global Sustainability Resource Center Hosts Film Screening

UC Irvine’s Global Sustainability Resource Center along with Professor of Social Ecology John Whiteley hosted a documentary screening and director’s visit for Thomas Ash and his film “A2-B-C” last Monday, Oct. 21, from 7 to 10 p.m.
According to GSRC Project manager Marisa Arpels, the resource center hosted this event in hopes of raising student awareness about the nuclear disaster in the context of the decision to close Orange County’s own nuclear power plant earlier this year.
“A2-B-C” focuses on the struggles of citizens, particularly children and mothers, in contaminated areas in Fukushima, 18 months after the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown disaster in Japan. This is the sequel to Ash’s first film on the tragedy in Fukushima “In the Grey Zone,” a film focusing on people that lived in the 20 to 30 kilometer zone around the power plant.
He began working on his sequel after hearing about an increase in throat nodules and cysts among children in Fukushima.
“The film covers other health and environmental issues, such as our inability to decontaminate the area. People have low white blood cell counts, and both children and adults are experiencing more nosebleeds and rashes. Not to mention the constant stress they live with,” Ash said.
His film shows mothers, realizing the lack of transparency in the medical testing of their kids and the ineffectiveness of the decontamination of the city’s homes and schools, struggling to take their children’s medical monitoring into their own hands.
The film is also one of the featured entries at the “Individual to Universal” 2013 United Nations Association Film Festival. The festival is UNAFF’s 16th international documentary film festival that runs from Oct. 17 through Oct. 27.
Ash’s statement about the end of the film echoes what GSRC hoped attendees would come to understand. “There is no resolution at the end of my film. This could happen to any of us. We need to become active participants in government policy and understand what is happening.”