September 5, 2006

Two Salk researchers win McKnight Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Award

Salk News

Two Salk researchers win McKnight Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Award

La Jolla, CA – Dr. Richard J. Krauzlis and Dr. Edward M. Callaway have been selected for the McKnight Technological Innovations in Neurosciences Award. The awards support scientists working on new and unusual approaches to understand brain function.

Established in 1999, the Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Awards provide $200,000 over a period of two years. Each year, up to four awards are given. This year, three of the awards will go to investigators at the University of California at San Francisco, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University.

Krauzlis and Callaway, both in the Systems Neurobiology Laboratories at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, will develop a method to inactivate specific subpopulations of neurons in localized regions of the brain. If successful, their novel method will be an invaluable tool for neuroscientists, who are trying to tease apart the contribution of each of thousands of kinds of neurons found within the mammalian nervous system.

The technique involves two steps. The first is to use a bioengineered virus to deliver to targeted neurons a gene that codes for a fly hormone receptor. The second step is to deliver the hormone ligand that sticks to the receptor and activates it thereby completely shutting down the electrical activity of the affected neurons.

Being able to precisely control the activity of specific neuronal cell types will help identify how information is processed in the brain; and which specific nerve cells work together to mediate sensation, cognition, and motor control. Understanding the neural circuits that underlie brain function is a crucial step toward developing new therapies and cures for treating brain disorders.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Krauzlis earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Princeton University and his doctorate in neuroscience from the University of California in San Francisco. After completing a postdoctoral research fellowship at the National Eye Institute in Bethesda, he was recruited to the Salk Institute in La Jolla. A faculty member since 1997, Krauzlis studies the brain circuits that link attention, perception and voluntary eye movements.

A native of Southern California, Callaway received his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and his doctorate from the California Institute of Technology. After traveling east to conduct postdoctoral studies at Rockefeller University and Duke University, Callaway returned to California to join the Salk Institute. A faculty member since 1995, he focuses on the brain circuitry that responds to and analyzes visual stimuli.

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to fundamental discoveries in the life sciences, the improvement of human health and the training of future generations of researchers. Jonas Salk, M.D., whose polio vaccine all but eradicated the crippling disease poliomyelitis in 1955, opened the Institute in 1965 with a gift of land from the City of San Diego and the financial support of the March of Dimes.

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