Health Discoveries Winter 2023 Health Discoveries Winter 2023 | Page 4


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“ Identifying this pathway and understanding its function might directly promote development of approaches to treat depression , either by pharmacological manipulations or non-invasive brain stimulation in selected nodes of the pathway or with targeted bright-light therapy ,” he says .
It ’ s well-known that changes in ambient lighting influence various basic functions , such as circadian rhythms , visual reflexes , mood , and likely cognitive processing , Sanes says . However , it had been unclear how these light-intensity signals reached the relevant areas of the human brain .
“ Identifying this pathway might directly promote development of approaches to treat depression .”
This study showed that the prefrontal regions of the human brain have lightsensitive signals , and that these signals are similar to the responses of photosensitive retinal cells that mainly function to sense light intensity .
Together , Sanes says , that may explain the effects of light intensity on complex emotional and cognitive behaviors . Future research could investigate how light affects these brain pathways and regions in people with mood disorders .
“ How does that compare to a control group of healthy people not diagnosed with these disorders ?” he asks . “ Does light activate the same regions , and if so , are these regions more or less sensitive to light activation ? What is the magnitude of difference in the effect ? This is an area of ongoing investigation .”

Expansion Plans

The Point 225 building on Dyer Street .
Brown is building more lab space in the Jewelry District .
The life sciences include many of the most space-intensive research programs at Brown . And all of those programs ’ primary facilities are at or near maximum capacity .
Last year , the University took steps toward alleviating that space crunch , announcing plans for a new Integrated Life Sciences Building in the Jewelry District . The envisioned facility will provide state-of-the-art lab space for researchers in biology , medicine , brain science , bioengineering , public health , and other disciplines to work together on pressing health-related issues . The architectural firms Deborah Berke Partners and Ballinger were selected to design the facility .
Mukesh K . Jain , MD , dean of medicine and biological sciences , says the new building will provide much-needed space for existing research centers to grow and new ones to flourish .
“ A modern facility with the laboratory space , technology , and infrastructure to translate cutting-edge science will enable Brown to implement a growth plan that supports research teams working on scales ranging from molecular-level science to biotechnology innovations , to the latest developments in patient therapies and interventions ,” he says .
A key part of the vision , Jain adds , is to provide state-of-the-art technologies that “ enable the development of novel diagnostics and therapeutics , particularly in highly promising areas such as RNA biology , to stimulate stronger partnerships with biotech and pharma , which will accelerate the timeline to clinical impact while simultaneously enhancing economic vibrancy and workforce opportunities for our Rhode Island community .”
Also last year , the University signed a letter of intent to lease laboratory space in a major public-private life sciences development project on former I-195 land . The anchor tenant , the Rhode Island Department of Health State Health Laboratories , will include infectious disease , environmental , and forensic testing services . The University will also lease approximately 31,000 square feet of new lab space in Wexford Science & Technology LLC ’ s Point 225 building on Dyer Street in the Jewelry District .