Dennis O’Leary

Professor Emeritus

Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory

Vincent J. Coates Chair in Molecular Neurobiology

Dennis O'Leary
Salk Institute for Biological Studies - News

News


Same gene dictates size of two sensory brain areas

LA JOLLA—When you stare in puzzlement at an optical illusion, two distinct parts of the neocortex in your brain are hard at work: the primary visual cortex is receiving information …


Autism-linked protein lays groundwork for healthy brain

LA JOLLA—A gene linked to mental disorders helps lays the foundation for a crucial brain structure during prenatal development, according to Salk Institute research published January 14, 2016 in Cell …


Brain cells capable of “early-career” switch

LA JOLLA–Scientists at the Salk Institute have discovered that the role of neurons–which are responsible for specific tasks in the brain–is much more flexible than previously believed.

By studying sensory neurons …


Salk scientists Joseph Ecker and Dennis O’Leary elected to American Academy of Arts & Sciences

LA JOLLA–Salk Institute Professors Joseph Ecker and Dennis O’Leary have received the prestigious honor of being elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) class of 2015. One …


Scientists reveal potential link between brain development and breast cancer gene

LA JOLLA—Scientists at the Salk Institute have uncovered details into a surprising—and crucial—link between brain development and a gene whose mutation is tied to breast and ovarian cancer. Aside from …


Novel ‘top-down’ mechanism repatterns developing brain regions

LA JOLLA,CA—Dennis O’Leary of the Salk Institute was the first scientist to show that the basic functional architecture of the cortex, the largest part of the human brain, was genetically …


Salk scientists discover previously unknown requirement for brain development

LA JOLLA—Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have demonstrated that sensory regions in the brain develop in a fundamentally different way than previously thought, a finding that may …


Salk to accelerate brain research with $4.5 million NIH grant

LA JOLLA—The National Institutes of Health has announced that the Salk Institute will receive $4.5 million to establish a Neuroscience Core Center, a new research center intended to accelerate brain …


Genetics of Patterning the Cerebral Cortex: How stem cells yield functional regions in “gray matter”

LA JOLLA, CA—The cerebral cortex, the largest and most complex component of the brain, is unique to mammals and alone has evolved human specializations. Although at first all stem cells …


Timing is everything: Growth factor keeps brain development on track

LA JOLLA, CA—Just like a conductor cueing musicians in an orchestra, Fgf10, a member of the fibroblast growth factor (Ffg) family of morphogens, lets brain stem cells …


A second career for a growth factor receptor: keeping nerve axons on target

La Jolla, CA – Neurons constituting the optic nerve wire up to the brain in a highly dynamic way. Cell bodies in the developing retina sprout processes, called axons, which …


Salk scientist receives 2007 Krieg Cortical Discoverer Prize

La Jolla, CA – The Cajal Club has selected Dennis O’Leary, professor in the Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, to receive the 2007 Krieg Cortical Discoverer Prize for his outstanding research on …


Researchers uncover novel mechanism that balances the sizes of functional areas in the brain

La Jolla, CA – In the cerebral cortex, the brain’s powerful central processing unit responsible for higher functions, specialized subdivisions known as areas are laid out like a map, but …


When it comes to “talent,” size of brain components does matter – but bigger isn’t necessarily better

La Jolla, CA – The ability to hit a baseball or play a piano well is part practice and part innate talent. One side of the equation required …


Salk and Stanford teams join forces to reveal two paths of neurodegeneration

La Jolla, CA – Wiring the developing brain is like creating a topiary garden. Shrubs don’t automatically assume the shape of ornamental elephants, and neither do immature …


Neurons find their place in the developing nervous system with the help of a sticky molecule

La Jolla, CA – The brain, that exquisite network of billions of communicating cells, starts to take form with the genesis of nerve cells. Most …


Molecular ‘zipcode’ guides nerves to correct places in body

La Jolla, CA – During embryonic development, thousands of nerves must be connected to muscles as part of a communication network that allows the newborn to move, breathe and lead …


Binocular Vision Discovery Provides Insights for Stem Cell Therapy

La Jolla, CA – A Salk Institute research team has discovered how nature controls the degree of binocular vision in mammals, work that could have crucial implications for human stem-cell …


Waves of Nerve Cell Activity Create Sharp Vision in the Brain

La Jolla, CA – Nerve cells firing in spontaneous waves create the brain’s first sharp visual images during a short but critical phase of development, Salk Institute researchers have found. …


New Insight Into How Eyes Become Wired To The Brain Discovered By Salk, UT Southwestern Scientists

La Jolla, CA – A crucial piece of the puzzle into how the eye becomes wired to the brain has been revealed by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological …


First Genes To Control Cortex Identity Discovered By Salk Scientists

La Jolla, CA – Salk Institute neuroscientists have obtained the first evidence that specific genes control how the cortex forms functional units during development. The cortex is the most recently …


Education

BS, Biology and Biochemistry, University of Illinois
PhD, Neural Sciences, Washington University, St. Louis
Postdoctoral Fellow, Salk Institute


Awards & Honors

  • 2015 American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 2004 Javits Investigator Award in Neuroscience, NINDS, NIH
  • 2003 AAAS Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • 2003 Ariens-Kappers Award Laureate, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 2002 ISI Highly Cited Researcher
  • 1999 McKnight Investigator Award
  • 1999 Capputto Memorial Award from Argentina Society for Neuroscience
  • 1996 Decade of the Brain Medalist, American Association Neurological Surgeons
  • 1991 Young Investigator Award, Society for Neuroscience
  • 1988 Krieg Cortical Explorer Award
  • 1987 McKnight Scholars Award
  • 1987 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow 1987