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Follow the news and meet the people behind IMRIC's innovative medical research.

The App you have to see to believe

The EyeMusic App

The Smartphone just got a little smarter with the EyeMusic App, developed and created by IMRIC’s Prof. Amir Amedi. The App is an innovative SSD (Sensory Substitution Device). SSDs provide representations of visual information and can help the blind "see" colors and shapes. To get an idea of what a SSD is, you can watch Graduate Student Ella’s vlog. Ella is a researcher in Prof. Amedi’s lab. In her vlog, Ella gives an insightful explanation and hands-on experience of SSDs and their functions. In a nutshell, SSDs are able to scan images and transform the information into audio or touch signals. The people who use SSDs are trained to understand the different sounds, enabling them to recognize the image without seeing it. Thus, blind people can see through sound.

Prof. Amedi and his team have created the EyeMusic that transmits shape and color information through a composition of pleasant musical tones, or "soundscapes." What is even more remarkable, this is one of the first SSDs to incorporate the use of color. Prof. Amedi stressed that the use of enabling color to musical timbre can lead to more complex shapes in the future.

And if we we’re looking into the future, then an additional hope of the EyeMusic would be for it to become a tool for neuroscience research. "It would be intriguing to explore the plastic changes associated with learning to decode color information for auditory timbre in the congenitally blind, who never experience color in their life. The utilization of the EyeMusic and its added color information in the field of neuroscience could facilitate exploring several questions in the blind with the potential to expand our understanding of brain organization in general," Prof. Amedi explains.

Now it’s your turn, download the App and check it out for yourself! Seeing believing! 

The Out of Body Experience

The virtual Out of Bode Experience, Prof.Olaf Blanke Lab

You’ve probably uttered the saying, 'out of body experience', at least once in your life…maybe already once this year, but what if you actually did have an ‘out of body experience’? Our own Prof. Amir Amedi had the opportunity to make that saying more of a reality during a recent conference.

After giving the keynote speech on merging of the senses in sighted and blind, Prof. Amedi became part of the experiment in Researcher Prof. Olaf Blanke’s Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience. There he took part in a virtual ‘out of body experience (OBE).’ Blanke’s research focuses on the merging of the sense in relation to the body; the virtual OBE that his lab has created shows how the brain can be tricked and how sensing one's own body can have a powerful influence on sense of self and physical location.

Check out Prof. Amedi’s photos he shares with us, as well as the video explanation. We look forward to following Prof. Amedi to all his conferences and seeing what exciting research goodies he takes part in along the way.  

The TED Talk

Viewing breast cancer in 3D

Blog: Student
By: IMRIC PhD student Roy Granit

When thinking about breast cancer one might imagine a single disease in which a uniform bulk of identical cells divide endlessly. Yet (sadly) the reality is much more complex. Breast tumors can divide into at least six distinct subtypes that greatly vary in their biological features and treatment options, and these can greatly influence patient outcome. Things get even more complex as you take a closer look into the cellular composition of each tumor, and witness how heterogeneous these tumors really are. Some tumors are actually composed of many subpopulations of cells with distinct biological features and differential response to treatment. Some cells within the tumor may exhibit increased resistance to treatment, and remain unharmed by it, making it extremely difficult to eradicate the entire tumor.

For these reasons we, at the lab of Dr. Ittai Ben-Porath, set out to characterize the composition of breast tumors and uncover genes that control their proportion. We hope that by shedding light on these mechanisms, drugs that are able to shift the tumor identity towards a more treatable state will be developed.

Our research involves genetic manipulation of genes we suspect to have an impact on tumor composition and identity. Once we achieve this we need to evaluate the actual effect on the tumorigenic cells. To do so we are looking at the expression levels of several key genes in order to position the treated cells onto a theoretical linear axis that examines one of the tumorigenic traits. One such axis might describe for example how metastatic the cells are (non-metastatic <-> metastatic axis). By doing so we are able to assess to what degree, and in what “direction” our manipulation drove the tumorigenic cells into. In our recent publication we describe a novel approach, in which instead of looking at just the single axis, one can combine up to three breast cancer relevant axes at once while assessing tumor identity. This approach provides new insights, since it allows the researcher to appreciate the tumor state from a broader perspective and investigate the interrelatedness between different axes and the importance of intermediate states.

Hopefully this approach will assist our understanding of the complexity of the disease and yield new biological insights. This knowledge might one day allow physicians to alter tumor composition towards a more benign state, possibly by using pharmacological combinations that affect several axes to do so.  

Check out Roy's Vlog here



Vlog #1: Prof. Ron Dzikowski on Malaria

Blog: Faculty
Prof. Ron Dzikowski

Welcome to my first vlog. I am excited to share with you the investigations that we are currently working on in our lab. In this vlog I focus on malaria, a mosquito-born disease caused by a parasite. Malaria does not have a vaccine nor is there a cure. About 90% of the cases of malaria are in the African Region. Please watch my vlog to learn more about the fatal disease and our lab's work.

Videos with Impact: Watch, Share and Inform

The personal side of cancer captured in video clips

This past week I have noticed so many incredible videos online about cancer. The stories that we once only heard about in secret from our closest friends and family are now being put in the spotlight of social media. And while these stories are often painful and have sad endings, it is important that we continue to share them.

The personal side of cancer also sheds light on the vital basic research side, not as colorful but just as important. The researchers are working hard to investigate and come up with better medicine and hopefully down the line, a cure. For us, the people outside of the lab, we have to do our part and stay informed and updated. Videos like these help us to share, educate and promote new studies and breakthrough science.

Take a moment to watch these short clips and share this post with your friends and family, inside the lab and outside too.