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entrepreneurship for students
to gain credit toward their con-
centration through work outside
As of 1 a.m. this morning,
the online petition, which was
launched earlier this.month, had
recorded 1,005 "voices heard."
The organization will discuss
the specifics of the integration
of entrepreneurial-based classes
into the college with the Univer-
sity administration after the peti-
tion gains 1,000 signatures.
"1000 Voices is more than
just a petition, it's a movement,"
Mehta said. "This is a once in a
lifetime opportunity. In the 194'
years of our University's history,
no opportunity like this has ever
LSA junior Max Levenstein,
From Page 1
easy, but for a single neuron cell, it's
extraordinary. That makes us think
that there must be some third party.
It's a really complex event that
appears to happen sort of beyond
what you'd expect an individual cell
Murphy said what they discov-
ered during their research wasn't
initially the main focus of the study.
"This was sort of a side project
from those experiments," Murphy
said. "We were interested in know-
ing how those newborn neurons
contribute to the cellular phenom-
ena that we think involves acquiring
The study investigated the role
of newborn neurons and synaptic
plasticity in the brain, he said.
who signed the petition, said
having opportunities outside the
classroom with hands-on entre-
preneurial work would be benefi-
cial to students.
Levenstein said he hoped that
programs like the Undergraduate
Research Opportunity Program
could be developed for entrepre-
"You (would) have a class that
you're taking creditfor but you do
a lot of work in the community,"
Mehta stressed the desire for
an entrepreneurial curriculum
within LSA. He cited the MPow-
ered program eRes - a living and
learning community on campus
centered on entrepreneurship
and leadership that is in its pilot
year - as an example of a grow-
ing need for an initiative like 1000
"The fact that (eRes) tripled
(in) size shows that there are
"Synaptic plasticity is a broad
term used to indicate how changes
occur in the brain - and specifically
to this study - how neurons change
and interact in the brain," Murphy
Jack Parent, director of the Uni-
versity's Neurodevelopment and
Regeneration Laboratory and an
associate professor of neurology,
wrote in an e-mail interview that
new nerve cells are born in adult
brains and "are thought to play
a specific role in certain types of
learning and memory."
Murphy explained that new neu-
rons constantly replenish them-
selves in the hippocampus region
of the brain - a crucial part of the
brain associated with short- and
"One of the reasons that this
region is so important is because it
is required for acquiring memories,"
unmet programming needs in the
University of Michigan," Mehta
Mehta said the success of
MPowered's other initiative, 1000
Pitches - an annual competition
in which students present origi-
nal ideas they wish to be used at
the University or elsewhere- has
also demonstrated that there is a
substantial fraction of the student
body with entrepreneurial inter-
"This year we got 3,000 pitch-
es," Mehta said. "1000 Voices is
just about unifying what people
want about their entrepreneurial
For LSA senior Caroline
Rooney, 1000 Voices has struck a
personal chord. During the win-
ter of her freshman year, Rooney
launched The Baron, a clothing
company that donates 10 percent
of its revenue to a variety of non-
Murphy said. "And specifically we
call them declarative memories -
these are memories for people, plac-
Genetically modified mice were
used to conduct the study, Murphy
said. The mice were given a toxic
compound that prevented new neu-
rons from developing so the scien-
tists could examine their synaptic
plasticity. The team then removed
the brains from the mice to examine
how their synaptic plasticity was
affected, according to Murphy.
"We wanted to see what would
happen if we permanently sup-
pressed neurons," he said. "We
expected the synaptic plasticity to
go away forever."
But the results came as a sur-
prise, Murphy said.
"What we found was that the
synaptic plasticity actually comes
back, in the absence of neurons," he
She described the formation of
her startup business as a difficult
but rewarding experience that
taught her how to make an idea
come to life.
"The things you learn from
entrepreneurship can be applied
across the board," Rooney said.
"Everyone needs to know how to
think outside the box and believe
in themselves, as cheesy as that
might sound. It's a huge vote of
confidence learning about how
you can follow your own ideas
and make them into reality."
Rooney said there is a lack of
diversity - in terms of the gen-
der of participants and the type
of startups - within the entre-
preneurial community, a concern
that compelled her to sign the
1000 Voices petition.
"For me specifically, I've been
very vocal over the last year or so
about getting more women and
more LSA students involved, and
said. "The network sort of rearrang-
es itself to accommodate the loss of
those newborn neurons."
However, Murphy said he was
still unsure why the synaptic plas-
ticity returned to the mice.
"If you turn off the birthing of
neurons, the ones that are born
right before that are more likely to
survive," he said. "We don't really
understand how that happens."
Parent described how new nerve
cells play a roll in learning and
"Our new findings suggest that
the new nerve cells born in the
adultbrain likely play a very impor-
tant role in learning and memory, a
role so important that when we get
rid of the adult-born nerve cells,
the mature cells can be recruited
to act like immature nerve cells,"
Parent wrote. "It is kind of like
teaching an old dog new tricks -
I think this specifically struck
me because of my interest there,"
She said many students are
creating startups in the biomedi-
cal and technological fields, but
there is a need for University sup-
port for entrepreneurial ventures
in other areas..
"There are not as many
resources for entrepreneurs who
are interested in retail startups,
art startups, in psychology -
things that represent more of a
multidisciplinary aspect of entre-
preneurship," Rooney said.
One of the challenges for LSA
students that Rooney cited is the
lack of easy access to resources
available on North Campus like
the College of Engineering's
Center for Entrepreneurship, for
"Students on Central Campus
aren't inclined to go up to North
Campus," Rooney said.
the mature nerve cells become less
"inhibited" and more plastic (or
malleable) when we get rid of the
The study is different than other
studies conducted on this topic
because it considers long-term
responses of thebrain, Murphy said.
If scientists are able to pinpoint
the signals that govern the relation-
ship between newborn neurons and
synaptic plasticity, they may be able
to do something if the brain is dam-
aged or aging, Murphy said.
Parent wrote the discoveries
from the study will lead to major
changes in the field of neurodevel-
opment and regeneration, including
some changes in his own lab.
"Much of my laboratory now
focuses on generating stem cells
by reprogramming mature cells,
such as skin cells, and making the
stem cells into nerve or heart cells,"
Friday, March 25, 2011 - 5
Despite being a student in LSA,
Levenstein said he hasn't been
deterred from entrepreneurship.
"It seems like entrepreneur-
ship is probably geared towards
the engineering school mainly
because it's obvious that engi-
neers make things, they create
products," Levenstein said. "But I
think LSA students have just the
exact same incentives and ability
to create things, but LSA didn't
think that far. We have all these
theories that we learn, but there's
no component to create change."
Levenstein said his motivation
to sign the 1000 Voices petition
stemmed from his desire to have
more practical problem-solving
courses in LSA.
"We definitely acknowledge
that we need to correct these
problems, but there's never an
additional aspect to our educa-
tion that addresses the issue of
actually solving them," he said.
Parent wrote. "We are taking skin
cells from patients with specific
disorders to study how the diseases
are caused and identify new treat-
Stephen Maren, director of the
University's Neuroscience Graduate
Program, wrote in an e-mail inter-
view that the study provides poten-
tial insight into the brain's ability to
"The work is quite exciting
because it reveals that the brain can
compensate for a variety of insults
- in this case, a genetic manipula-
tion that prevents new cells from
being born in the hippocampus,"
Maren wrote. "It suggests that
there are molecular mechanisms
involved in re-establishing normal
brain function after it is perturbed.
Understanding these mechanisms
may inform new clinical interven-
tions forbrain insults."
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