Recording brain activity gets $1 million boost
The National Institutes of Health awarded close to $1 million to Stanford's Michael Lin, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics and bioengineering, and Mark Schnitzer, PhD, associate professor of biology and applied physics, to develop improved ways of recording activity in the brain. The grant is in support of the NIH's Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative.
Lin's lab and Schnitzer's lab have each developed tiny protein sensors that can detect voltage changes within a neuron. These have provided the first accurate real-time view of a neuron's electrical activity. The BRAIN initiative award will support work to improve both the sensors and the microscopes that record the brain's activity.
"It's the firing of neurons, the transmission of electrical impulses in the circuit, that create our thoughts and memories," says Lin. "To understand how the brain functions, we need to detect that activity."
Another Nobel moment for Stanford
The ability to dive deeper into human biology and visualize the inner workings of cells at a molecular level is central to modern research and medicine. W.E. Moerner, the Harry S. Mosher Professor of Chemistry at Stanford, was awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his role in developing the microscopy techniques that make this possible. His work has made it possible to study the molecular processes in real-time. The microscopy techniques, developed by Moerner, Eric Betzig of Virginia's Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Stefan Hell of Germany's Max Planck Institute, have allowed scientists to visualize precise molecular mechanisms inside living cells, opening new windows to how life can be studied.
Paul Khavari named to the IOM
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) named 70 new members last October, including Stanford's Paul Khavari, MD, PhD, professor and chairman, department of dermatology. Election to the IOM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health. "It is an honor to be elected to the Institute of Medicine and to join so many distinguished colleagues in their committed efforts in the service of human health," says Khavari.
Established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, the IOM has become recognized as a national resource for independent, scientifically informed analysis and recommendations on health issues.