August 28, Vol. 25, No. 8                                         

BrainHubSM To Address Topic of the Decade 
There's a mental health crisis and Carnegie Mellon is uniquely equipped to help solve the problem.

Brain disorders are the leading cause of disability with millions over the age of 65 suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia. Sixteen million Americans experience major depression each year, and 75 percent of brain disorders begin before the age of 25.

To help stem this mental health epidemic Carnegie Mellon has launched BrainHubSM, a global research initiative that will bring together CMU's strengths in computer science, neuroscience, psychology and engineering. The initiative aims to help develop a better understanding of the brain's structure and function - why we do the things we do - and to create new tools to accelerate discovery and reduce the human and economic costs of brain disorders.

At the program launch this week, Tom Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said the brain is, without question, the "hot topic of the decade." He said the future of the National Institutes of Health's BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative relies on bringing the physical sciences, engineering, psychology and computer science together with neuroscience.

"I firmly believe this is the right place to make that happen," Insel said.

Town Hall Meeting, Sept. 3

To further discuss BrainHub, Interim Provost Nathan Urban will host a Town Hall meeting from 4-5 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 3 at the Tepper School of Business, Room 322. (Room 322 is in the old GSIA part of the Tepper School.)

Learn more about BrainHub. | Watch videos of the event.

(The NIH does not endorse CMU or any of its programs or services.)
Architects Selected for New Tepper Building
After a national search, Carnegie Mellon has selected the Santa Monica, Calif., firm of Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners to design the first major building in the David A. Tepper Quadrangle, which will serve as a new home for the Tepper School of Business.

The 295,000 square-foot building will be the centerpiece of the university's new north campus and will be located on a 4.5-acre site on Forbes Avenue, which is now the Morewood parking lot.

"More than a physical structure, the new business school building must be designed to create increasingly vital bridges among technology, business and the sciences," said Robert M. Dammon, dean of the Tepper School of Business. "Cutting-edge interdisciplinary research and teaching that is relevant in the modern marketplace is a hallmark of the Carnegie Mellon educational experience. We look forward to working with the architect to incorporate this concept as an inherent part of the new building design."

"Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners clearly recognizes Carnegie Mellon's vision for this project and is well suited toward developing creative solutions in meeting the university's well-defined goals," said Ralph Horgan, associate vice provost for Campus Design and Facilities Development.

Learn more.

Class Gift Sets Record

The Tepper School's MBA Class of 2014 has made a gift of more than $32,000 to the school for the new Tepper Quad and new Tepper School building. The gift surpasses the previous class gift record of $23,000 in 2013.
Device May Help Predict Spread of Cancer Cells 
 Illustration by Tony Huang, Penn State
Carnegie Mellon President Subra Suresh and researchers from MIT and Penn State have devised a new way to separate cells by exposing them to sound waves as they flow through a tiny channel.

Their device could be used to detect the extremely rare tumor cells that circulate in cancer patients' blood, helping doctors predict whether a tumor is going to spread.
"The method we describe in this paper is a step forward in the detection and isolation of circulating tumor cells in the body," Suresh said. "It has the potential to offer a safe and effective new tool for cancer researchers, clinicians and patients."

The research is published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).


Learn more.   

Discovery Could Lead to Better Brain Therapies 
Learning a new skill is easier when it is related to an ability we already have. For example, a trained pianist can learn a new melody easier than learning how to hit a tennis serve.

Scientists from the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC) - a joint program between CMU and the University of Pittsburgh - have discovered a fundamental constraint in the brain that may explain why this happens.

Published as the cover story in the Aug. 28 issue of Nature (right), they found for the first time that there are limitations on how adaptable the brain is during learning and that these restrictions are a key determinant for whether a new skill will be easy or difficult to learn.

Understanding the ways in which the brain's activity can be "flexed" during learning could eventually be used to develop better treatments for stroke and other brain injuries.

"These findings could be the basis for novel rehabilitation procedures for the many neural disorders that are characterized by improper neural activity," said CMU's Byron Yu, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering. "Restoring function might require a person to generate a new pattern of neural activity. We could use techniques similar to what were used in this study to coach patients to generate proper neural activity."

Learn more and watch the video.

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 Calendar Highlights 

   This issue features:

Randal Bryant
Subra Suresh
Adam Feinberg
Gunhee Kim

Marc Onetto, John McCue, Daniel Jester

Amanda Olar, Monique Hutcherson, Naveen Gupta, Tyler Deschamps

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