May 14, 2024

The Salk Institute promotes neuroscientist Axel Nimmerjahn

Salk News

The Salk Institute promotes neuroscientist Axel Nimmerjahn

LA JOLLA—In recognition of his notable and innovative contributions to science, the Salk Institute’s Axel Nimmerjahn has been promoted from associate professor to full professor. The promotion is based on Salk faculty and Nonresident Fellow recommendations and was approved by Salk’s president and Board of Trustees on April 19, 2024.

“Axel continues to push the boundaries of neuroscience and biophotonics,” says Salk President Gerald Joyce. “His deep technical expertise and collaborative nature have made him integral to several research teams at Salk, and we are thrilled to have him advance his career within our scientific community.”

Axel Nimmerjahn
Axel Nimmerjahn
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Credit: Salk Institute

Nimmerjahn is the director of Salk’s Waitt Advanced Biophotonics Center, where faculty labs and a core facility provide the Salk community with an array of cutting-edge imaging technologies, specialized equipment, and microscopy services. Biophotonics is a rapidly emerging field, drawing on developments in microscopy and imaging probes, computational modeling and artificial intelligence, and molecular and genetic engineering. Advancements at the center fuel scientific discoveries across the Institute.

Nimmerjahn also leads an interdisciplinary research team funded by the National Institutes of Health’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, a national effort to investigate overarching principles of brain circuit function, including sensation, perception, decision-making, and motor control. The five-year project at Salk is centered on astrocytes, a type of non-neuronal brain cell, and how they process and modulate neuronal signals to support overall brain function.

In his own research, Nimmerjahn has developed new tools to visualize cells’ structural and functional dynamics in the brain and spinal cord in both healthy and diseased conditions. These tools include small, wearable microscopes that allow scientists to observe cellular activities and molecular signaling in real time while animals engage in natural behaviors. Additionally, his lab has developed biological tools for probing these dynamics, and computational tools for analyzing the resulting large and multi-dimensional data. By leveraging this expanded toolbox, Nimmerjahn’s lab is addressing important questions surrounding the normal operations of the central nervous system, the mechanisms underlying disease, and how targeted interventions can help prevent, slow, or halt nervous system disorders. The lab's research on brain and spinal cord function, neuro-immune interactions, and related areas is especially relevant to our understanding and treatment of diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, neuroinflammation, spinal cord injury, brain cancer, stroke, and pain.

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