The archives currently go back to January 2003. Older news articles can be found here.
Jane Sullivan presents Science in Medicine Lecture
Jane Sullivan was selected by the School of Medicine to present the annual New Investigator Science in Medicine Lecture for the 2006-07 academic year. The lecture, entitled "What Goes Wrong at Synapses with Alzheimer’s Disease" was exceptionally well attended by PhD and MD students, faculty from many departments and non-science members of the Seattle community interested in Alzheimer’s Disease.
Results from Jane’s lab showing that APP alters synaptic transmission will be published soon in PNAS. Mutations in APP cause a former of early onset inherited Alzheimer’s Disease.
Launched in 1974, the Science in Medicine Lecture series recognizes outstanding research conducted by faculty members at the School of Medicine.
2006 Lamport Lecture presented by Ron Vale
Ron Vale, Professor and Chair of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, and an HHMI Investigator at UC San Francisco presented this year's Lamport Lecture. The central theme of Dr. Vale's research is microtubule based motor proteins. He has received numerous awards for his contributions, including election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2001. Following Dr. Vale's presentation on "Dynein - the next frontier of cytoskeletal motor proteins", a celebratory dinner was held a Ponti Seafood Grill.
The Lamport Lecture is one of three endowed lectureships sponsored by the Department of Physiology & Biophysics.
Fetz Laboratory Publishes work on Brain-Computer Interface in Nature
Eb Fetz and his colleagues, Andrew Jackson and Jaideep Mavoori, have demonstrated in a paper just published in Nature that an electronic neural implant can strengthen synaptic transmission in neurons that control movement. See this article in UW News for more information. The research was featured in the journal's News and Views commentary section.
Chip Asbury receives Packard Fellowship for Science & Engineering
Charles (Chip) Asbury, assistant professor of Physiology & Biophysics, has been awarded a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering. Chip is one of 20 new Packard Fellows who will receive funding of $625,000 over 5 years. The intent of the Fellowship Program is to provide support for unusually creative researchers early in their careers. The fellowship will support his research on the biophysics of motor proteins and their role in cell division. Earlier this year, Chip was named a Searle Scholar and was last year's Marian Smith awardee.
Sonya Schuh-Huerta named Homecoming Royalty Scholar
After being selected as one of 12 finalists to be interviewed by a panel of UW representatives from various departments and programs, Sonya Schuh-Huerta, a PBIO graduate student in the Hille laboratory, was selected as one of 6 students to represent UW as a Homecoming Royalty Scholar. These awards are given each year for academic, campus, and community contributions and leadership. The two top winners of the court were announced at the Homecoming Rally in Red Square, then at a brunch with President Emmert, and at the Homecoming Football game between the 1st and 2nd quarters. Sonya was selected as one of the two top winners or "queens" for which she received $1000. The entire court was awarded sashes, flowers, UW Bookstore gift certificates, the President's Brunch, and seats for them and their families in the President's Box at the Homecoming Game. These awards replace the traditional Homecoming King and Queen to avoid gender-specific awards and are based on scholarship, rather than popularity. Now they are given to two individuals who have excelled in academics, community contributions, and leadership at the university.
Linda Buck elected to the Institute of Medicine
Linda Buck is one of 65 new members elected to the Institute of Medicine. One of the highest honors in the fields of medicine and health, membership in the IOM "recognizes people who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health". This latest award is one of several that Linda has won since joining the department as an affiliate professor in 2003. These include election to the National Academy of Sciences and the Gairdner Award, both in 2003, and the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Linda is the second member of the Department of Physiology & Biophysics to be named to membership in the Institute of Medicine. Bertil Hille was elected in 2002.
Eb Fetz receives Javits Neuroscience Award from NIH
Eb Fetz, professor of Physiology & Biophysics and core staff member of the Washington National Primate Research Center, has received a Javits Neuroscience Award from the NIH. The award is given to individual investigators who have demonstrated exceptional scientific excellence and productivity in research supported by the NINDS and who are expected to conduct innovative research over the next 7 years. This Javits award (his second) will allow Eb to continue studies on how cells in the motor cortex and spinal cord contribute to movement. His other studies in animals hope to show how the nervous system adapts to a BCI as an artificial motor pathway, leading to a greater understanding of the capacity of the brain for plasticity. Implications for retraining the brain via BCI devices could significantly improve quality of life for persons with paralysis, head trauma, motor neuron disease, or other conditions that affect the ability to move or control their own movement.
The Javits award is named for the late Senator Jacob Javits, a strong supporter of NIH and research on neurological diseases, who died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Marv Adams, Fernando Santana, and Linda Wordeman promoted
Three faculty members in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics have been promoted, effective July 1. Marv Adams was promoted to Research Associate Professor, Fernando Santana became Associate Professor with tenure and Linda Wordeman was promoted to Professor.
Congratulations to our colleagues on their well-deserved promotions!
Charles "Rick" Rossow receives the Young Investigator Award of the International Society for Heart Research
Dr. Charles "Rick" Rossow, a senior fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Luis Fernando Santana in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics, has received the 2006 Young Investigator Award of the North American Section of the International Society for Heart Research (ISHR). This award is given annually "to recognize outstanding research in the field of cardiovascular science by young investigators". Dr. Rossow was one of five finalists chosen form a large group of applicants for the award. Dr. Rossow was honored for his work on the signaling pathways regulating the function of voltage-gated K+ channels in ventricular myocytes during physiological conditions and during the development of heart failure. His research on signal transduction and excitation-transcription coupling was recently highlighted in an editorial by Dr. Wayne Giles and Céline Fiset in the journal Circulation Research.
Shadlen on "Soccer and the Brain"
Train the brain for successful soccer
Department ranks 7th nationwide in research funding
The Department of Physiology & Biophysics ranked 7th in research grant funding among all physiology departments in the US. Faculty, postdocs and students in the department garnered more than $8.2 million of research funding, most from the National Institutes of Health. The Department has consistently ranked in the top 10 in this survey conducted by the Association of Chairs of Departments of Physiology.
Linda Buck named UW Alumna of the Year
Linda Buck, affiliate professor of Physiology & Biophysics, a member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, has been named 2006 Alumna Summa Laude Dignata by the University of Washington and the UW Alumni Association. Linda is the 66th recipient of this award, the highest honor the University confers upon its graduates. Click here for the full story published in the UW Alumni Magazine.
Anne Carlson receives Crill Award
Anne Carlson, a PBio graduate student in the laboratory of Bertil Hille and Donner Babcock, received the 2006 Crill Award for outstanding thesis research. Anne’s research focused on "Signaling Mechanisms of Mouse Sperm Capacitation". The award, funded by the Crill Endowment, is presented each year the student whose completed PhD thesis research is deemed outstanding by a faculty committee. Anne will join Bill Zagotta’s laboratory for postdoctoral research.
Pietro De Camilli presents 5th Annual Crill Lecture
Pietro De Camilli of Yale School of Medicine, presented the 5th annual Wayne E. Crill Graduate Research Lecture. Dr. De Camilli is Eugene Higgins Professor of Cell Biology and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is internationally known for his research on the molecular mechanisms of presynaptic transmitter release. Dr. De Camilli presented new work from his laboratory on "Endocytic Mechanisms at the Neuronal Synapse".
The Crill Endowment funds this lectureship which honors Wayne Crill for his commitment and contributions to graduate education in the Department and recognizes graduate students conducting research in laboratories of the Department of Physiology & Biophysics and their faculty mentors. After the lecture, a dinner was held at Ray's restaurant on Puget Sound.
photos from the dinner can be seen here.
Felice Dunn (Rieke Lab) highlighted on the graduate school's website
From Artist to Scientist: Studying the Biology of Vision
An example of Felice's artistic work was featured recently on the cover of the Journal of Neuroscience, in connection with a publication from the Rieke laboratory.
Copyright 2006 by the Society for Neuroscience. Reprinted with permission. See Dunn et al. (2006) Controlling the gain of rod-mediated signals in the mammalian retina. J. Neurosci. 26: 3959-3970
David Clapham presents Hille Lecture: Ion Channels - Bacteria to Brain
David Clapham, the Aldo R. Casteñaeda Professor of Cardiovascular Research and Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, presented the Einar Hille Memorial Lecture in Neuroscience on April 26. Dr. Clapham is also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
The central theme of Dr. Clapham’s research is regulation of ion channels. In pioneering work in the 1980s, his group showed that ion channels in the heart can be regulated by direct interaction with Gβγ subunits, and that this interaction slows the heart rate. More recently, he has shifted his attention to transient receptor potential (TRP) channels, which are regulated by membrane lipids, temperature, and compounds such as capsaicin. Another area of investigation is the role of ion channels in sperm motility and his lab has recently discovered ion channels in bacteria.
Dr. Clapham has received numerous awards including the Cole Award for Contributions to Membrane Biophysics, the American Heart Association Basic Research Prize, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Two days before the lecture, Dr. Clapham was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Later this year, he will receive the Bristol-Myers-Squibb Award for Excellence in Cardiovascular Research.
Following the lecture, a dinner in Dr. Clapham’s honor was held at the Columbia Tower. [see photos here]
The Hille Lecture honors Professor Einar Hille, an internationally known mathematician who spent most of his academic career at Yale. The lectureship was established in 1989 by a generous gift to the Department of Physiology & Biophysics from the late Mrs. Kirsti Hille.
Chip Asbury named Searle Scholar
Chip Asbury, assistant professor of Physiology & Biophysics, has been named a 2006 Searle Scholar. The Searle Scholars Program supports the research of exceptional young faculty in the biomedical sciences and chemistry. This year, 15 new Scholars were selected nationwide for this prestigious award. Approximately 120 academic institutions were invited to nominate faculty members in the first two years of their appointment as assistant professors. The Program focuses on young scientists in the chemical and biological sciences who have already done important, innovative research and who show potential for making continued significant contributions to biological research.
The Searle Scholar award will support Chip’s research on the molecular basis of biological motion. His lab focuses on the biophysical mechanisms by which molecular protein motors generate force and movement in biological processes, including chromosome separation during mitosis and the transport of cargo vesicles along microtubules.
Chip is the first faculty member in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics to win this award. Since the program was established in 1981, ten other faculty members at the University of Washington have received the Searle Scholar Award.
Tom Linder receives Faculty Award for Distinguished Teaching
Tom Linder, senior lecturer in Physiology & Biophysics, has been selected as the recipient of the Faculty Award for Distinguished Contributions to Lifelong Learning. The award is important recognition of outstanding teaching by students and peers who nominate the candidates.
The award, which will be presented at the University's Annual Recognition Ceremony on June 8, recognizes Tom's long-standing contributions and excellence in teaching physiology in the Medical Engineering Program. Tom also serves as course director and lecturer in the department's Physiology course for Pharmacy students.
Fred Rieke receives Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences
Dr. Fred Rieke, associate professor of Physiology & Biophysics, has received the 2006 Troland Research Award, one of 15 awards given by the National Academy of Sciences for major contributions to science. The Troland Research Award is given annually to each of two recipients to recognize "unusual achievement and to further their research within the broad spectrum of experimental psychology", focused on research utilizing a quantitative approach. Dr. Rieke was honored for his "experimental and theoretical analyses of information coding in the central nervous system and its relation to perception." His research on signal transduction and biophysical mechanisms of adaptation in the retina has been widely recognized, most recently by his appointment as an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 2005.
Dr. Rieke shares the Troland Award with Marvin M. Chun of Yale University. The Troland Research Awards, which provide $50,000 for support of research in the recipients’ laboratories, were established by a bequest from Leonard T. Troland and have been presented since 1984. Dr. Rieke is the first faculty member at the University of Washington to receive the Troland Research Award.
See also: uwnews.org "Rieke to receive 2006 NAS award"
Wayne Crill appointed emeritus professor
Wayne Crill has been appointed emeritus professor, effective January 1, 2006. Wayne received his MD from the University of Washington in 1962 and joined the Department in 1967 as an assistant professor, with a joint appointment in Neurology. He served as chair of the Department of Physiology & Biophysics from 1983-1999.
For his many contributions to the Department and the UW School of Medicine, Wayne has received numerous honors. The Wayne E. Crill Endowment, established by generous contributions from his colleagues, former students and friends, recognizes the important contributions made by graduate students in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics. The Endowment supports the annual Wayne E. Crill Research Lectureship and the Crill Award for Outstanding Graduate research. Recently, through the generosity of Bud Tribble (a former MD-PhD student in Wayne’s lab), and his wife Susan Barnes, the Wayne E. Crill Endowed Professorship in Physiology & Biophysics was established. The Professorship honors Wayne’s many contributions to basic science research, patient care, and his commitment to creating an environment that encourages and supports interdisciplinary learning.
2005 Lamport Lecture – David Yue
David Yue, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, presented the 2005 Lamport Lecture on December 1. Dr. Yue, an expert on regulation of calcium in neurons and cardiac myocytes, spoke on "Calmodulin regulation of voltage-gated calcium channels - Smart Ca++ detection and biological impact."
The Lamport Lecture is one of three endowed annual lectureships sponsored by the Department of Physiology & Biophyiscs.
2005 PBIO Holiday Party
The 2005 pbio holiday party took place at Peter Detwiler's house this year. Good food and drinks were had by all.
Fernando Santana presents New Investigator Science in Medicine Lecture
Fernando Santana gave the New Investigator Science in Medicine Lecture to the School of Medicine science community. This annual lecture features presentations by junior faculty whose research is viewed as exemplary. For more information about Fernando’s current research on the role of ion channel regulation in cardiovascular diseases, see this article at uweek.org.
Michael Häusser presents 4th Annual Crill Lecture
The 4th annual Wayne E. Crill Graduate Research Lecture was presented by Michael Häusser, PhD of the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research, University College London. Dr. Häusser is a leading expert on synaptic integration and information processing in neuronal dendrites. His lecture entitled "Sensory coding by single neurons at the input layer of cerebellar cortex" was attended by a broad range of students and faculty from the UW neuroscience community.
The Crill Lecture honors graduate students conducting research in laboratories in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics and their faculty mentors. Prior to the lecture, the Crill Award for outstanding thesis research was presented to Mark Mazurek, who received his PhD for work done in the Shadlen laboratory.
After the lecture, a dinner was held at Anthony's Homeport Restaurant.
Journal of Neurophysiology Cover Art by Eb Fetz
Pbio's Eb Fetz designed the cover art used for the November 2005 issue of the Journal of Neurophysiology:
[click image for larger view]
Cover caption: Intracellular recordings from motor cortex neurons of awake behaving monkeys reveal normal synaptic potentials and intrinsic membrane potential properties. Front: traces at bottom illustrate intracellular recordings during alternating flexion-extension movements about the wrist, with torque and EMGs of agonist forearm muscles. Yellow trace to right of micropipette (top) shows fluctuating membrane potentials and truncated action potentials of a precentral neuron in an awake monkey. Stacked traces below show averaged interspike interval trajectories of this neuron, revealing a rebound afterhyperpolarization (rAHP) lasting - 30 ms. Such rAHPs were found in a class of precentral cells that tended to fire at 30 Hz and may represent an intrinsic pacemaker mechanism contributing to cortical oscillations. Top right shows the same trajectories superimposed. Back: top left is schematic diagram of electrodes used to record activity in motor cortex (cf. Matsumura et al. J Neurosci 16: 7757-7767, 1996). Top right shows simultaneous recording of extracellular action potentials, local field potentials, and intracellular membrane potentials during an oscillatory episode. Stacked traces show characteristic averaged interspike interval trajectories of neurons with an afterdepolarization (middle right) and smooth scoop-shaped potentials (bottom left). Photo of nemestrina monkey was taken by Mark Murchison of the Tulane National Primate Research Center. From: Chen D-F and Fetz EE. Characteristic membrane potential trajectories in primate sensorimotor cortex neurons recorded in vivo. J Neurophysiol 94: 2713-2725,2005. First published June 29, 2005; doi:10.1152/jn.00024.2005.
Bertil Hille named Crill Professor
Bertil Hille has been named the first holder of the Wayne E. Crill Endowed Professorship in Physiology & Biophysics. Bertil has been a member of the Department of Physiology & Biophysics since 1968, and is internationally recognized for his biophysical studies of ion channels. His textbook, Ion Channels of Excitable Membranes, is widely used as the definitive source on ion channel structure and function. Bertil has received numerous awards for his research contributions, including the 1999 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award and the 2001 Gairdner Foundation International Award. He was elected to the National Academy of Science in 1986 and the Institute of Medicine in 2002.
The Crill Professorship honors Wayne Crill who was chair of the Department of Physiology & Biophysics from 1983 through 1999. The professorship was endowed by Guy Tribble and Susan Barnes. Dr. Tribble received his MD-PhD from the Department of Physiology & Biophysics, where he conducted his thesis research with Wayne Crill.
See also: news article published in the University of Washington School of Medicine Online News (pdf).
2005 Physiology & Biophysics Retreat
The Department held its annual retreat, officially known as the HD Patton Symposium, at the Sleeping Lady Resort in the Cascade Mountains on September 21 and 22. The event features scientific presentations by faculty members and a poster session in which graduate students and postdoctoral fellows report their latest findings. The "Outstanding Poster Award" this year was shared by Tanya Daigle (Mackie lab) and Felice Dunn (Rieke lab).
In addition to science discussion and social time, the graduate students also present a skit, revealing their true impressions of the faculty, all in good spirit.
For photos of the retreat, click here.
Phyllis Wise joins UW as Provost and Professor of Physiology & Biophysics
Phyllis Wise has joined the University of Washington as Provost and Professor of Physiology & Biophysics. For the past three years, she has been Dean of the Division of Biological Sciences and Distinguished Professor of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior at UC Davis. Prior to moving to Davis, Phyllis was Professor and Chair of Physiology at the University of Kentucky.
Despite a heavy administrative load at Davis, Phyllis maintained an active and internationally recognized research program on endocrine and neurochemical mechanisms regulating plasticity during aging, with emphasis on the female reproductive system. She also studies neuroprotective actions of estrogen after injury and during aging. Phyllis’ research is funded by a 10-year MERIT Award from the NIH (NIA), her second MERIT Award. The excellence of her research program has been recognized by numerous awards including the Solomon Berson Award of the American Physiological Society (1998), the FASEB Excellence in Science Award (2002), the Women in Endocrinology Mentor Award (2003), and the Roy O. Greep Award for Excellence in Endocrine Research (2004), among others.
Here at the University of Washington, Phyllis also holds appointments in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and the Department of Biology.
Department ranks 8th in the nation in research grant support
According to a recent survey by the ACDP, the Department of Physiology & Biophysics ranks 8th in the nation among physiology departments in research grant support. Faculty in the department received over $9 million, most from the NIH, during the 2004 fiscal year.
This and other information from the survey can be found here.
Sharona Gordon and Mike Shadlen receive promotions
Two faculty members in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics have received promotions, effective July 1, 2005.
Sharona Gordon has been promoted to Associate Professor of Physiology & Biophysics (with tenure). Sharona joined the department as a joint faculty member in 1999, and became a primary appointee in 2003.
Mike Shadlen has been promoted to Professor of Physiology & Biophysics (adjunct with Neurology). Mike joined the Department as an assistant professor and core staff scientist in the Washington National Primate Research Center in 1995. He is also an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, appointed in 2000.
Chip Asbury wins Marian E. Smith Award
Chip Asbury has been named the School of Medicine’s seventh recipient of the Marian E. Smith Junior Faculty Research Award. The award, given to only one junior faculty member each year, will support his research on the molecular basis of biological motion. Chip joined the Department as an assistant professor in 2004.
Chip is the second PBio faculty member to win this award. Fred Rieke was selected for the first Marian E. Smith award in 1999.
Hollis Cline presents 2005 Einar Hille Lecture
Dr. Hollis Cline, professor and associate director at Cold Spring Harbor Labs, presented the Einar Hille Memorial Lecture in Neurosciences, sponsored by the Department of Physiology and Biophysics. She described how “Activity-Dependent Mechanisms Govern Multiple Aspects of Visual System Development”. After Dr. Cline’s lecture, a dinner celebration was held at the Columbia Tower [photos].
Cline’s research focuses on understanding how sensory experience affects the development of brain structures and function. More specifically, her lab is identifying the cellular mechanisms by which activity in the brain controls the growth of neurons, synapse formation, and the development of organized projections between different brain regions.
Her approach is to study the development of a retinal projection in tadpoles using various imaging, genetic and electrophysiological techniques.
The Cline lab has discovered that neuronal activity regulates the development of the visual system through a variety of mechanisms, including changes in neuronal structure, synaptic strength, synapse formation, and gene expression.
Cline received her B.A. degree in biology from Bryn Mawr College, and a Ph.D. degree in neurobiology from the University of California, Berkeley. She did postdoctoral work with Dr. Martha Constantine-Paton at Yale University, and with Dr. Richard Tsien at Stanford University Medical Center. Among many honors, she has received a McKnight Scholars Award and a Klingenstein Fellowship. She is also a Council member of the Society for Neuroscience.
The Einar Hille Memorial Lecture in Neurosciences was established by Kirsti Hille in honor of her late husband. Dr. Hille was a professor of mathematics at Yale University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Bertil Hille, son of Einar and Kirsti Hille, is a professor of physiology and biophysics at the UW.
(Adapted from University Week)
Andres Barria joins faculty as assistant professor
Andrés Barría has joined the Department of Physiology & Biophysics as an assistant professor in the tenure track. Andrés is a native of Chile, where he attended the University of Chile for undergraduate studies. He received a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Chile for research on phosphorylation of glutamate receptors, conducted with Tom Soderling at the Vollum Institute (Oregon Health Sciences University). Before moving to Seattle, Andrés was a postdoctoral fellow with Roberto Malinow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. There, he used optical and electrophysiological tags to study trafficking of NMDA receptors and synaptic plasticity.
In his lab here at the University of Washington, Andrés plans to continue his studies of scaffolding proteins in the regulation of NMDA receptors during synaptic plasticity.
Fred Rieke appointed new HHMI investigator
Fred Rieke has been named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, one of 43 new scientists selected in a nationwide competition. More than 300 of the country’s top biomedical scientists were nominated for these appointments. Fred is one of two new HHMI appointees at the University of Washington. He and Evan Eichler of the Department of Genome Sciences join 11 current HHMI investigators at the University of Washington.
Funding by the HHMI will support Fred’s research on retinal processing of rod and cone signals.
Three other faculty members in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics, Bill Zagotta, Mike Shadlen, and Linda Buck, hold HHMI appointments.
Adrienne Fairhall receives Sloan Foundation Fellowship
Adrienne Fairhall, assistant professor of Physiology & Biophysics, has been named a Sloan Foundation Fellow in Neuroscience. The award will support Adrienne’s research in computational neuroscience on neural information processing.
Sloan Research Fellowships are awarded to early-career scientists and scholars who show the most outstanding promise of making fundamental contributions to new knowledge. The Foundation awards fellowships in the areas of physics, chemistry, mathematics, neuroscience, economics, and computer science. Adrienne was one of 16 neuroscientists nationwide chosen to receive a Sloan fellowship this year.
Guy Tribble and Susan Barnes establish the Wayne E. Crill Endowed Professorship
A generous gift from Guy L. Tribble III, MD, PhD and Susan K. Barnes will establish the Wayne E. Crill Endowed Professorship in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics.
Dr. Tribble received his MD-PhD from the Department of Physiology & Biophysics in 1983. During a leave from his studies at the UW, he helped develop the initial MacIntosh computer produced by Apple Computer, Inc. After completing an internship in San Francisco, Dr. Tribble’s career shifted to designing computer software. He currently serves as vice president of software development at Apple Computer.
According to Dr. Tribble and Ms. Barnes, the endowed professorship is intended to honor Wayne Crill, who provided a supportive environment for Dr. Tribble during his time at the School of Medicine, and to encourage the interdisciplinary approach to neuroscience research and teaching in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics.
Dr. Crill, currently a professor in the Departments of Physiology & Biophysics and Neurology, served as chair of the Department of Physiology & Biophysics from 1983 to 1999.
2004 PBIO Holiday Photos
A fun time was had at the Hille home for our annual PBIO Holiday Potluck. See the photos.
Department awarded $3.65 million NIH grant for laboratory renovations
The National Center for Research Resources of the NIH has awarded the Department of Physiology & Biophysics a major grant for laboratory and office renovations. The award of $3.65 million will be combined with $4.35 million from the State of Washington and $0.5 million from the department. As part of this major renovation project, the Department will be assigned the 3rd floors of the G- and H-wings, in exchange for current space on H1 and in the T-court. For the first time since its founding, the Department will be located on contiguous floors, providing better integration of research and teaching activities.
In addition to remodeling of research laboratories on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors of the H-wing, the project will include core facilities for imaging, cell culture and molecular techniques, new office space for faculty, postdocs and students, and a large conference room. Ambia will be the lead architectural firm for this project, expected to begin in mid-2006.
Carlson laboratory publishes Nature paper on molecular basis of presynaptic active zone organization
A paper by the Carlson lab demonstrating a key role for laminin beta2 in formation of presynaptic active zones appeared in the December issue of Nature. The work, done in collaboration with the laboratory of Josh Sanes at Washington University St. Louis, demonstrates a direct interaction between this synaptic cleft protein and the calcium channels required for transmitter release at motor nerve terminals. In vivo perturbation of the interaction results in disassembly of the synaptic specializations at neurotransmitter release sites, a defect similar to the human disease, Lambert-Eaton myasthenia syndrome.
Ed Rubel wins Otolaryngology Association's Highest Award
Edwin Rubel, Virginia Merrill Bloedel Professor of Hearing Science, has won the Award of Merit from the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO).
The annual Award of Merit, the organization's highest honor, is given to a person who has made an outstanding scientific contribution to the field of otolaryngology and hearing sciences.
Rubel is professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, and of physiology and biophysics, and founder of the Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center. His research focuses on understanding the cellular processes involved in the development of information processing in the auditory system and the effects of experience on brain development.
Larry Abbott presents 2004 Lamport Lecture
Dr. Larry Abbott, Professor of Biology at Brandeis University presented the 2004 Lamport Lecture. Dr. Abbott is a leader in the field of computational neuroscience and was recently awarded the prestigious NIH Pioneer Award, described as "a program designed to support individual scientists and thinkers with highly innovative ideas and approaches to contemporary challenges in biomedical research." His lecture, entitled "A Cascade Model of Synaptic Plasticity and Memory", was followed by dinner with faculty from the neuroscience community at 727 Pine.
The Lamport Lecture is one of three endowed lectureships sponsored annually by the Department of Physiology & Biophysics.
Linda Buck wins Nobel Prize!
Linda Buck, affiliate professor of Physiology & Biophysics, and full member, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has been awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. She shares the prize with Richard Axel at Columbia University. The prize was given "for their discoveries of odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system".
Linda joined the Department of Physiology & Biophysics in 2003. She received her undergraduate training in microbiology and in psychology at the University of Washington. Following graduate training at UT Southwestern, she joined Axel's lab for postdoctoral work. There, she discovered that 1000 genes encode odorant receptors, part of the work recognized by the Nobel committee. In 1991, she joined the faculty in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School and in 1994 was appointed a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.
Since arriving here in Seattle, Linda has continued to study olfaction with an emphasis on the higher levels of the olfactory sensory system. Using genetic approaches, her laboratory is determining the neural circuitry used by the brain to process olfactory information.
The Nobel Prize ceremonies were held in Stockholm on Dec. 10. For a photo of Linda being presented her prize by Swedish King Carl XVI Gustav, click here.
See photos of the Nobel festivities here .
Martin Farias receives National Alumnus Role Model Award
Martin Farias III, a senior fellow in the Feigl laboratory, has received the Minority Access National Alumnus Role Model Award. The award was given to Dr. Farias as "one who has made significant contributions in biomedical research and can be viewed as a role model for minority students." Andrea Mickle, president and chief executive officer of Minority Access, Inc presented the award at the 2004 National Role Models Conference in Washington, DC.
Dr. Farias received a BA in biology from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio and completed his graduate work in a cooperative training program between the University of Texas at Brownsville and the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. He joined the UW Physiology & Biophysics Department as a senior fellow in 2003. In addition to his research program, Martin serves as the department’s postdoctoral/senior fellow representative at faculty meetings and other events.
2004 Sleeping Lady Retreat Photos
The 2004 department retreat took place this week at the Sleeping Lady Resort in Leavenworth. Photos of the event can be found here.
This year's t-shirt was designed by Eric Chase.
Bill Zagotta promoted to HHMI Investigator
Bill Zagotta, Professor of Physiology & Biophysics, has been promoted to full Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The promotion took effect September 1. Bill was named an HHMI assistant investigator in 1993, the same year he joined the Department. The University of Washington School of Medicine currently has 11 active HHMI investigators.
Chip Asbury joins faculty as assistant professor
Chip Asbury, PhD, has joined the Department as an assistant professor in the tenure track. Chip received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell and a M.S. in Bioengineering from Tulane University. He continued his graduate work here at the University of Washington in Bioengineering, earning a PhD in 1999 for work in the laboratory of Ger van den Engh on trapping of DNA molecules in micro-electrofluidic devices.
Chip joined Steve Block’s laboratory at Stanford for postdoctoral research, where he has studied the nanomechanics of the kinesin motor protein. In a recent paper published in Science, Chip and his colleagues showed that kinesin moves along microtubules in 8 nanometer steps, in a processive, hand-over-hand manner. During his postdoctoral work, he held a Damon Runyan Cancer Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship.
Donner Babcock promoted to Research Professor
Donner Babcock has been promoted to Research Professor of Physiology & Biophysics, effective July 1. Donner joined the Department in 1994, following positions in the UW Department of Biochemistry, Oregon Health Sciences University and the University of Wisconsin. His research, conducted in close collaboration with Bertil Hille, focuses on ion channel signaling in sperm.
Jane Sullivan named Klingenstein Fellow
Jane Sullivan, assistant professor of Physiology & Biophysics, has received a Klingenstein Fellowship Award in the Neurosciences. The purpose of the award, sponsored by The Esther A. & Joseph Klingenstein Fund, is to support young investigators engaged in basic or clinical research that may lead to a better understanding of epilepsy. Jane's research focusses on the role of synaptotagmin and other presynaptic proteins involved in synaptic transmission. One form of synaptotagmin is upregulated by epileptic seizures.
Jane is one of only nine Klingenstein Fellows named this year nationwide. The three year award will provide $150,000 to support her research.
Department ranks 7th in nation in grant funding
According to an annual survey conducted by the Association of Chairs of Departments of Physiology, PBio ranks 7th in the nation in grant support. Most of the $7.26 million awarded to PBio faculty in the 2002-03 fiscal year came from the National Institutes of Health.
Joseph Takahashi presents 2004 Einar Hille Lecture
from University Week
Circadian clock is topic: Joseph Takahashi to present Hille Lecture
Program Project Grant for Muscular Dystrophy Research
The NIH has awarded a 5 year Program Project Grant to develop molecular and cellular therapies for muscular dystrophy. Stanley C. Froehner, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Physiology & Biophysics, is the principal investigator. Project leaders are Jeffrey S. Chamberlain, PhD, Professor of Neurology, Stephen D. Hauschka, PhD., Professor of Biochemistry, and Stephen J. Tapscott, Professor of Neurology and Full Member, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The group will collaborate to understand the pathological mechanisms that lead to muscle degeneration in animal models of Duchenne muscular dystrophy and identify compensatory molecular changes that could slow the degenerative process. Duchenne dystrophy is one of the most prevalent genetic diseases, affecting boys at an early age and progressing to loss of muscle function and death in the late teens/early 20s.
The grant of approximately $7 million is in addition to and complements the research in the recently funded UW Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Center, headed by Dr. Chamberlain.
Gunther Wennemuth receives award for prize winning publication from Hille lab
Mike Shadlen presents UW Science Forum Colloquium
Mike Shadlen, Associate Professor of Physiology & Biophysics and Assistant Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, presented the UW Science Forum Colloquium on March 12. The series features prominent UW scientists who discuss the current knowledge and outstanding problems in their fields. Mike’s lecture was entitled "How the Brain Decides".
Adrienne Fairhall joins faculty as assistant professor
Adrienne Fairhall, PhD, has joined the Department as an assistant professor in the tenure track. A native of Australia, Adrienne received her MS and PhD in physics from the Weizmann Institute of Science following undergraduate study at Australian National University. In 1998, she came to the US for postdoctoral research at the NEC Research Institute where she developed her interest in computational neuroscience. In collaborations with W. Bialek, R. de Ruyter, Michael Berry, and B. Agüera y Arcas at NEC and in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton, Adrienne has investigated adaptation and neural coding in the retina, neural computation as projection of a linear subspace with a nonlinear decision function, and adaptation of the neural code to temporally modulated statistics. In 2003, Adrienne received the prestigious Burroughs Wellcome Career Award at the Scientific Interface, intended to foster the early career development of researchers with backgrounds in physical/computational sciences but whose work addresses biological questions. Only seven of these grants were awarded nation-wide last year.
Adrienne's husband Blaise Agüera y Arcas is taking time out from research in applied mathematics to found a software company in Ballard; her one year old son Anselm is finding Seattle very agreeable.
Steven Block presents 3rd Annual Wayne Crill Lecture
The 3rd Annual Wayne E. Crill Graduate Research Lecture was presented by Dr. Steven Block, Professor of Applied Physics and of Biological Science at Stanford University. Dr. Block, a world expert on the biophysics of molecular motors, spoke on "Light and Life: Biophysics One Molecule at a Time".
The lecture honors former chair Wayne Crill for his outstanding contributions to the Department of Physiology & Biophysics and the School of Medicine, and also recognizes the important contributions made by the graduate students who perform thesis research in our department. The graduate students select the speaker and plan the day's events.
Following the lecture, Drs. Block and Crill and the graduate students in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics, which includes students from the Physiology & Biophysics, Neurobiology & Behavior, and Molecular & Cellular Biology programs, and their mentors were treated to dinner at Skansonia. [photos from the dinner]
The Crill lectureship is supported by an endowment established by gifts from Wayne Crill's friends, colleagues, and former students, matched by a generous gift from Microsoft. Donations may be made by downloading a pledge form to print and mail to the Medical Affairs Development Office.
Kerry Kim and Kim Matulef share 2003 Crill Award for Outstanding Graduate Research
The 2nd Crill Award for Outstanding Graduate Research was shared this year by Kerry Kim and Kim Matulef. Kerry Kim did his thesis research in the Rieke laboratory and is currently in the Department of Biology here at the University of Washington. Prior to moving to Stanford for postdoctoral research, Kim Matulef did her thesis research in the Zagotta lab.
The award is made possible by the Crill Endowment, which also sponsors the annual Crill Lecture, presented this year by Dr. Steven Block from Stanford.
2 staff members celebrate anniversaries
Marilyne Cunnington, Main Office Receptionist - 25 years
David Miller, Engineering Technician - 20 years
Santana Lab Research featured in the Journal of Clinical Investigation
Research published by Fernando Santana and his colleagues Greg Amberg and Charles Rossow was the topic of a Commentary in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The findings shed light on the molecular mechanisms underlying changes in arterial constriction that can lead to the development of hypertension. Potassium channels, composed of a and b1 subunits, are critical in the regulation of arterial diameter. Santana and colleagues show that in hypertension, the normal balance of the two subunits is altered. A commentary on these findings by Michael Kotlikoff (Cornell University) and Ian Hall (University of Nottingham) suggests that inter-individual variability in blood pressure could be driven by genetic defects in the expression or function of the potassium channel b subunit.
Adrian Bonev and Mark Nelson of the University of Vermont were collaborators in this study.
Patton Symposium Poster Contest
Open to all current graduate students and post-docs affiliated with the Pbio department. Posters will be judged during the poster session at the retreat by the poster committee (comprised of a group of Pbio faculty members). $100 gift certificate goes to the first place winner. If you plan to present a poster please let Tina Schulstad,email@example.com, know by Tuesday, September 2nd. Questions? Please email Bharathi Jagadeesh at firstname.lastname@example.org
PBio Faculty Promoted
Three faculty members in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics have been promoted, effective July 1.
Fred Rieke was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. Fred joined the Department in 1997 following postdoctoral research at the University of Chicago and Stanford.
Steve Perlmutter was promoted to Research Associate Professor. Steve is a member of the Regional Primate Research Center where he started as a senior fellow in 1991.
Bill Spain is now Professor of Neurology and Physiology & Biophysics. Bill has been an active joint appointee in PBio following a research fellowship with Wayne Crill.
Congratulations to Fred, Steve, and Bill on their success and much-deserved promotions!
Sharona Gordon appointed to PBIO faculty
Since her arrival at the University of Washington in 1999 as an Assistant Professor in Ophthalmology, Sharona Gordon has had a joint appointment in Physiology & Biophysics. Effective July 1, Sharona’s primary appointment has been changed to Assistant Professor of Physiology & Biophysics (tenure track).
Sharona did her undergraduate and graduate work at Brown University, receiving the PhD in 1993. She then joined Bill Zagotta’s laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow and published a series of important papers on the regulation of cyclic nucleotide-gated ion channels. After two years as an assistant professor of Physiology at UT Southwestern, Sharona returned to the UW in 1999. For more information about research in the Gordon laboratory, please see her webpage.
Stan Froehner appointed to Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives
Stan Froehner, professor and chair of Physiology & Biophysics, has been appointed a member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives. A nonprofit organization, the primary mission of the Dana Alliance is to advance public education about the progress and benefits of brain research via public radio programs, forums, lecture series and publication of newsletters and pamphlets written for the lay audience. Membership includes 340 neuroscientists in the US, Canada and Europe. The Alliance’s flagship event is the annual Brain Awareness Week campaign, scheduled next for March 15-21, 2004.
PBio Graduate Student Yulia Ovechkina named 2003 ASCB-Norton B. Gilula award winner
Marjorie Anderson presents UW Distinguished Science in Medicine Lecture
Linda Buck elected to National Academy of Sciences
Linda Buck, affiliate Professor of Physiology & Biophysics and HHMI Investigator at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, is one of 72 new members elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Linda is internationally known for her research on the molecular basis of smell and taste. Her laboratory discovered the odorant receptor family, comprised of approximately 1000 different receptors responsible for detecting odorants in the nose. In more recent work, she has developed a genetic method for visualizing neural circuits and is mapping odor sensory coding in the brain. Linda joined the UW School of Medicine and the FHCRC earlier this year after moving to Seattle from Harvard Medical School where she was professor of neurobiology.
Election to membership in the Academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer. Of the 1,922 active members, 43 are from the University of Washington.
Early this year, Linda received the 2003 Gairdner International Award and the Perl/UNC Neuroscience Prize. She is the second member of the Department of Physiology & Biophysics to be elected to the National Academy. Bertil Hille was elected in 1986.
Research by Leon and Shadlen published in Neuron as this month’s Featured Article
Representation of Time by Neurons in the Posterior Parietal Cortex of the Macaque
M.I. Leon and M.N. Shadlen
We and other animals can learn to estimate elapsed time but little is known about what neuronal processing is involved. Leon and Shadlen trained monkeys to indicate whether elapsed time was shorter or longer than a standard, and recorded the activity of posterior parietal area LIP neurons. They found that the activity of individual neurons paralleled the judgments the monkeys made of the elapsed time. These neurons appear capable of conveying information about elapsed time, which could be important for their other functions in this region, which is known to be involved in sensorimotor integration. The context for and implications of these findings are discussed in a Preview by Randy Gallistel.
Subscribers can read the entire article on Neuron's website at http://www.neuron.org/cgi/content/full/38/2/317/
Linda Buck honored with 2003 Gairdner International Award
Linda Buck, Affiliate Professor of Physiology & Biophysics and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, has been named one of five winners of 2003 Gairdner International Award. Linda is internationally recognized for her studies of odorant receptors and analysis of neuronal circuitry in the olfactory cortex. She shares the award with Richard Axel of Columbia University, with whom she did postdoctoral work on odorant receptors. Three other biomedical scientists (Wayne Hendrickson of Columbia, Seiji Ogawa of the Hamano Life Science Research Foundation, and Ralph Steinman of the Rockefeller University) are also being honored for their research contributions.
Linda joined the Department earlier this year after moving to Seattle from Harvard Medical School where she was Professor of Neurobiology. She received her undergraduate training in Psychology and Microbiology here at the University of Washington.
The Gairdner International Awards recognize outstanding contributions by medical scientists whose work will significantly improve the quality of life. This marks the third year in a row that faculty members of the University of Washington School of Medicine have received this prestigious honor. In 2001, Bertil Hille shared the award with Clay Armstrong and Rod McKinnon for the elucidation of the mechanism of action and molecular structure of ion channels. Last year, Maynard Olsen, Phil Green and Bob Waterston of the Department of Genome Sciences were recognized for their work on the human genome.
Bertil Hille presents UW Science Forum Lecture: Can the Mind Just be a Machine?
Eric Feigl awarded the Berne Distinguished Lectureship
Dr. Eric O. Feigl, professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, has been awarded the Berne Distinguished Lectureship. The award is presented to a scientist who is a fellow of the Cardiovascular Section of the American Physiological Society, who has made outstanding prior contributions to cardiovascular research, and whose current research is particularly interesting. Feigl is presenting a lecture entitled "Berne's Adenosine Hypothesis of Coronary Blood Flow Control" at the annual meeting of the American Physiological Society this week in San Diego.
Originally published in University Week.
Professor David P. Corey presents 13th Annual Einar Hille Memorial Lecture in Neuroscience
Dr. David P. Corey, professor at Harvard Medical School, neurobiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, and an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, will present the Einar Hille Memorial Lecture in Neurosciences, sponsored by the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, next week.
He will speak on "Sensory Transduction and Adaptation by Hair Cells of the Inner Ear" at 4 p.m., Thursday, April 10, in room T-625 in the Health Sciences Center. The lecture is free and open to everyone.
Corey’s research focuses on understanding the cellular and molecular basis of hearing. A specialized cell of the inner ear, called a hair cell, converts the mechanical stimulus of a sound wave into an electrical stimulus that is sent to the brain. These hair cells have a bundle of hair-like protrusions emanating from the top surface of the cell. These hairs are connected by fine filaments that are stretched every time the hair bundle is deflected by a sound vibration. The filaments are, in turn, connected directly to proteins called ion channels that respond to the stretch by producing an electrical current across the membrane.
Corey and his colleagues have begun to unravel some of the molecular mechanisms of hearing and deafness. Hair cells express hundreds of specialized proteins to carry out their mechano-sensory function. These include specialized ion channels and motor proteins related to the proteins in muscle cells that are responsible for muscle contraction.
Work in Corey's laboratory has shown that, in hair cells, these motor proteins are important for auditory adaptation, the process by which hair cells adjust their sensitivity depending on the background noise level. Certain hair cells proteins have been shown to be defective in inherited forms of deafness.
Corey received his B.A. degree in physics from Amherst College and a Ph.D. degree in neurobiology from the California Institute of Technology. His thesis work, with James Hudspeth, focused on mechanical transduction in auditory receptor cells. His postdoctoral work with Charles Stevens at Yale Medical School was on voltage-sensitive ion channels. Among his many honors, Corey has won the Mirmelstein-Kresge Award for Excellence in Hearing Science.
The Einar Hille Memorial Lecture in Neurosciences was established by Kirsti Hille in honor of her late husband. Dr. Hille was a professor of mathematics at Yale University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Bertil Hille, son of Einar and Kirsti Hille, is a UW professor of physiology and biophysics.
Originally published in the University Week April 3, 2003.
Linda Buck receives Perl/UNC Neuroscience Prize
From UW Online News:
Neurophysiologist wins award for olfactory receptor research
Adrienne Fairhall wins Burroughs Wellcome Career Award
Adrienne Fairhall, currently at Princeton University, has been awarded a Burroughs Wellcome Career Award at the Scientific Interface. Adrienne will join the Department of Physiology & Biophysics as an assistant professor in January 2004.
These grants are intended to foster the early career development of researchers with backgrounds in physical/computational sciences but whose work addresses biological questions. Adrienne is trained in Physics but is now applying her background to computational neuroscience. At Princeton, she has worked with William Bialek on the dynamics of adaptation in the fly visual system.
Burroughs Wellcome Career Awards provide $500,000 over five years to support the transition from postdoctoral to faculty status. The grants are highly competitive. Only seven awards in the Scientific Interface category were made this year.
Linda Wordeman presents The Science in Medicine Lecture
[read the article from University Week]
Albert Berger presents Linda Wordeman with a certificate recognizing her selection as The Science in Medicine lecturer
Dan Cook, Peter Schwindt, and Bill Spain publish in Nature first documented use for short-term synap
from UW School of Medicine Online News
Study shows synaptic depression used to compute sound levels
A study published in the Jan. 2 issue of Nature found that, in auditory synaptic transmission, synaptic depression is used to compute sound levels and to correct neuronal signals in order to better locate the source of a sound in space. The study, published in the "Letters to Nature" section, was accompanied by a "News and Views" letter describing the significance of the findings.
In the study, researchers characterized synaptic depression at the synapse between neurons in the embryonic chick auditory brain stem using a biophysically realistic computer model of neurons from the nucleus laminaris.
All synapses exhibit depression, a decrease in strength after rapid, repeated use, and all synapses can increase or decrease synaptic strength depending on the history of synaptic use (short-term synaptic plasticity). Among other findings, researchers noted that depressed synapses could compensate for an increased amount of stimulation produced by loud sounds. This compensation could help animals pinpoint sound irrespective of intensity.
UW authors from the Department of Physiology and Biophysics include Daniel Cook, research professor, Peter Schwindt, professor emeritus, and William Spain, associate professor (joint appointment with neurology and research affiliate at the Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center). Third-year medical student Lucinda Grande was also an author.
Nature news & views
Linda Buck appointed Affiliate Professor of Physiology & Biophysics
Dr. Linda Buck, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has been appointed Affiliate Professor of Physiology & Biophysics. Linda is internationally recognized for her research on chemosensation in the olfactory system. In 1991, she reported, in collaboration with Richard Axel, the discovery of a large multigene family thought to encode odorant receptors. More recently, Linda’s laboratory has extended its studies to pheromones and taste receptors, and has begun to define the sensory map in olfactory cortex.
Linda was an undergraduate here at the University of Washington, where she received B.S. degrees in Psychology and Microbiology. Following graduate training in immunology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, she did postdoctoral research at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. In 1991, she joined the faculty in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School and was appointed an assistant investigator of HHMI in 1994. Linda moved back to Seattle in 2002 as a Full Member of the Basic Sciences at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Linda has won numerous awards including the Kenji Nakanishi Award for Research in Olfaction, the McKnight Scholar Award, the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, the Unilever Science Award and the Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research. She was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2002.
Two Physiology & Biophysics Faculty win Whitehall Grants
Drs. Bharathi Jagadeesh and Jane Sullivan, both assistant professors in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics, have received grants from the Whitehall Foundation for their research on the nervous system. The Whitehall Foundation supports scholarly research in the life sciences with a particular interest in basic neurobiology. In 2002, the Foundation funded approximately 60 grants nationwide.
With this new funding, Bharathi will study the tuning properties of the neurons in the part of the brain, the inferotemporal cortex (IT), that are thought to play a role in the complex process of seeing and understanding scenes. These neurons are selective for pictures of complex objects, like faces, flowers, and cats and they are influenced by the relevance of particular objects for behavior. Bharathi and her colleagues will examine tuning in IT by constructing images that are part one image and part another and seeing how the representation of these interpolated images by the brain changes as a function of how these images are interpreted by the subject. Will the neurons behave as though they see part cat and part flower? Or will they respond to the features contained within those images, which may resemble neither cat nor flower? By answering these questions, they hope to understand how visual information about objects and scenes is stored in the brain.
Jane's laboratory studies the role of synaptotagmin I, a protein found on neurotransmitter-filled vesicles in the presynaptic terminals of neurons, in synaptic transmission. Synaptotagmin is currently the leading candidate for the "calcium sensor"-the molecule that triggers the rapid release of neurotransmitter during action potential-driven synaptic transmission. Funding from the Whitehall foundation project will allow Jane and her colleagues to determine whether or not synaptotagmin I is indeed the calcium sensor, and to identify the molecular mechanisms by which it operates at mammalian central nervous system synapses. The experimental strategy is to analyze synaptic transmission that has been rescued in hippocampal neurons cultured from synaptotagmin I knock-out mice by infection with viral constructs encoding mutant versions of synaptotagmin I. By correlating the known biochemical deficits of specific mutations with their physiological effects on rescued transmission, they will determine the precise molecular mechanisms underlying synaptotagmin I-mediated control of calcium-dependent vesicle fusion. The information gained by these studies will provide insights into mechanisms controlling all forms of exocytosis, and could lead to novel strategies for treating a broad range of neuropathological disorders.