Faculty & Staff at TUC

Dr. Tamira Elul

Tamira Elul

College: COM

Department: Basic Sciences

Title: Associate Professor

Phone: (707) 638-5453

Fax: (707) 638-5430

E-Mail: tamira.elul@tu.edu

Office: Administration & Faculty 1, Rm. 133

Institution Degree Field of Study Obtained
UC Berkeley, California B.A.

Biophysics

1990

UC Berkeley, California

PhD Biophysics 1999

Touro University

Cell Biology and Histology (COM, MSMHS programs)
Art of Observation

 

Univ. of Calif., Berkeley 

Biophysical Neurobiology
Vision and Art

Development of neuronal connectivity. 

We study molecular and cellular mechanisms that shape neuronal circuits during embryonic development. Our objective is to define novel mechanisms by which structural molecular factors that regulate cell adhesion and cytoskeletal organization, such as beta-catenin, Myosin II, and APC,  coordinate to modulate optic axon pathfinding and arborization during formation of the visual projection.  To perform these experiments we manipulate function of molecular factors and examine the effects on morphometric parameters of single optic axons, growth cones and arbors in intact brains in Xenopus laevis tadpoles.  These experiments will help define how neuronal connectivity first forms, is degraded in various neurological disorders (such as Down's syndrome and Alzehimer's disease), and potentially, can be regenerated following disease or injury in the nervous system. 

Another area of interest is quantitative measurement of growth cone motility and axon guidance in the developing visual circuit. Most recently, we have focused on quantitative and statistical analysis of interactions between filopodial and lamellipodial dynamics in growth cone motility. We are also investigating the functional consequences of such interactions for optic axon guidance. This work will provide precise quantitative data regarding growth cone motility that can be used for molecular/cellular studies as above, and for developing theoretical or computational models of growth cone motility in axons pathfinding in vivo.

 

 

Interdisciplinary Research (Art-Science)

A large component of our work on morphogenesis in the developing nervous system involves morphometric analyses of cell shape and motility.  We have also begun expanding our application of morphometrics of organic forms to answer questions in art history.  We performed a quantitative comparison of cell like forms in paintings of the Abstract Expressionist artist Sam Francis and cells in biological tissues that resemble his paintings.  The goal of this study was to specify the similarity of biology to Sam Francis' paintings, as speculated previously by art historians.  This project is a collaboration with Dr. Peter Selz, Art History Department, UC Berkeley.

Another art-science project involves the use of the software language Processing, originally developed at MIT Media Laboratory to promote compuational literacy among visual artists.  Using Processing we developed visualizations of the cell motility that drives convergent extension of the neural ectoderm, and branching of optic axons during establishment of visual syanptic connections.  These visualizations are based on mathematical parameterization of dynamic behaviors as observed and quantified in high resolution time lapse video recordings made of cells in tissues undergoing convergent extension, or axons projecting to the optic tectum.  

Touro University Intramural Grants- 2006-2007, 2009-2010  Roles of beta-catenin in optic axon pathfinding and arborization in vivo.

 

Mathematical analysis of Cell Like Forms in Sam Francis Paintings-2012 

(Collaborator: Dr. Peter Selz, Department of Art History, UC Berkeley) Sam Francis Foundation

Elul T., Koehl M.A., Keller R. Cellular mechanism underlying neural convergent extension in Xenopus laevis embryos. Dev. Biol. 1997 Nov 15;191(2):243-58.

Elul T., Koehl M.A., Keller RE. Patterning of morphogenetic cell behaviors in neural ectoderm of Xenopus laevis. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1998 Oct 23;857:248-51.

Keller R., Poznanski A., Elul T. Experimental embryological methods for analysis of neural induction in the amphibian. Methods Mol Biol. 1999;97:351-92.

Keller R., Davidson L., Edlund A, Elul T., Ezin M., Shook D., Skoglund P. Mechanisms of convergence and extension by cell intercalation. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2000 Jul 29;355(1399):897-922. Review.

Elul T., Keller R. Monopolar protrusive activity: a new morphogenic cell behavior in the neural plate dependent on vertical interactions with the mesoderm in Xenopus. Dev Biol. 2000 Aug 1;224(1):3-19.

Elul T.M., Kimes N.E., Kohwi M., Reichardt L.F. N- and C-terminal domains of β-catenin, respectively, are required to initiate and shape axon arbors of retinal ganglion cells in vivo. J Neurosci. 2003 Jul 23;23(16):6567-75. Erratum in: J Neurosci. 2003 Sep 17;23(24):0a.

Keller R, Poznanski A, Elul T. Experimental embryological methods for analysis of neural induction in the amphibian. Methods Mol Biol. 2008;461:405-46. Review.

Wiley A, Edalat K, Chiang P, Mora M, Mirro K, Lee M, Muhr H and Elul T: The GSK-3β and α-catenin binding sites of β-catenin exert opposing effects on the terminal ventral optic axonal projection. Developmental Dynamics. 2008 May 237(5): 1434-1441.

Lakhani F, Dang H, Selz P and Elul T:  Morphometrics show Sam Francis' Painted Forms are Statistically Similar to Cells in Biological Tissues.  Leonardo Journal (MIT press).  Published online, Nov. 5, 2014 (in print June, 2016),

Patel A, Bains A, Lam ML, Millet R and Elul T:  Visualization of Morphogenesis using the Processing Programming Language.   Journal of Biocommunication,  In press, Vol. 40 (2), 2016.  

Wu E, Wiley A, Mora M, Radhika R, Farrell A, Shah A, Vu K, Revels J, and Elul T: beta-catenin and myosin II differentially regulate optic axonal projections and growth cone morphology in the optic tract,  In Revision, 2017.

Jin TG, Sohal A, Peng G, Wu E and Elul T:  APC N-terminal and central domains coordinately modulate branch number and length during optic axon arborization in vivo. In preparation, 2017.

Sohal A, Ha J, Lakhani F and Elul T: Reproducibility in measurement of growth cone dynamics for optic axons pathfinding in vivo. In revision 

American Society for Cell Biology
Society for Neuroscience
Society for Developmental Biology

1990- Honors in Biophysics, UC Berkeley
1993-1994: Graduate Opportunity Fellowship, UC Berkeley
1994-1999: Howard Hughes Medical Institute Predoctoral Fellowship, UC Berkeley
2000-2004: NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship, Laboratory of Dr. Louis Reichardt, UC San Francisco

Employer Title From - To
University of California, San Francisco Post-doctoral researcher 1999-2004
Touro University-California Assistant Professor 2004-2009
Touro University-California Associate Professor 2009-
University of California, Berkeley Visiting Associate Professor/Scholar 2011-   
Last Updated: 1/4/17