Dan, Holy, and Yasuda Receive $25,000 Research Awards for Innovation in Neuroscience
Oct 19, 2009CHICAGO — The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) awarded the Research Awards for Innovation in Neuroscience (RAIN) to Yang Dan, PhD, Tim Holy, PhD, and Ryohei Yasuda, PhD, during Neuroscience 2009, SfN’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news on brain science and health. Supported by the Astellas USA Foundation, the award includes $25,000 for each recipient’s institution and honors innovative and imaginative research with the potential to generate new ideas and breakthroughs in neuroscience.
“I congratulate this year’s winners, who are being recognized for their novel research into the mysteries of the brain,” said Thomas J. Carew, PhD, president of SfN. “Their innovative methods are critical for inspiring new ideas that can lead to significant advancements for the neuroscience field.”
Dan, who is currently a professor of neurobiology at the University of California, Berkeley, is applying an innovative approach in her studies of cortical plasticity and visual coding that is helping to bridge the gap between cellular and systems neuroscience. Dan and her team use techniques that range from electrophysiological studies in cultured tissue to psychophysical experiments in humans. Her research has helped to better model electrical signals in the human brain and how they are affected by natural stimuli.
Holy, an associate professor of neurobiology at Washington University School of Medicine, has successfully combined his background in mathematics and physics with his passion for neuroscience. In his postdoctoral studies, Holy developed a novel way to record the electric signals of brain cells in the vomeronasal organ, which is important in pheromone detection. This method allowed him to investigate the ways that this sensory system guides sex-specific behaviors in mammals. One of his most recent breakthroughs has been the discovery of a new group of molecules that can naturally activate vomeronasal cells in a far-reaching study that encompasses electrophysiology, microscopy, animal behavior, and chemistry. Holy has also been influential in creating technology that allows researchers to precisely monitor brain cell response.
Yasuda, who started his own lab at Duke University in 2006, has been a pioneer in researching synaptic plasticity. As a postdoctoral fellow, he sought to understand the ways in which the synapses or connections between brain cells are activated. He built a special 2-photon fluorescence microscope that allows researchers to measure the activity in individual synapses in real-time. In his lab, Yasuda and his team have devoted much effort to designing genetically encoded fluorescent indicators to study brain cell connections. These studies allow investigation into the synaptic plasticity underlying learning and memory.
The Society for Neuroscience is an organization of more than 39,000 researchers and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.