Jul 10, 2000
Dr. Timothy Ryan, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at Weill Medical College and Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University, has received one of the five McKnight Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Awards for the year 2000. Along with Dr. Gero Miesenbock, assistant member and head of the Laboratory of Neural Systems at Sloan-Kettering Institute, who is co-investigator, Dr. Ryan will receive $200,000 over two years to support their development of novel techniques to measure synaptic activity.
Dr. Ryan, who lives in Manhattan, earned a Ph.D. in physics from Cornell's Ithaca campus in 1989. Already involved with applying optical methods to biological questions, he went on to a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford Medical School, leaving in 1997 to come to Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Miesenbock, who is also an Assistant Professor in the Graduate Programs in Cell Biology and Neuroscience at Weill Cornell, received an M.D. from the University of Innsbruck in 1992.
The technological innovations for which the scientists are receiving the award are applications of a green fluorescent protein (GFP) that is sensitive to changes in acidity. The indicators based on this protein are genetically encoded and can be targeted to specific locations in neurons. The scientists intend to refine the technology and demonstrate how synaptic activity can be optically observed as neural networks process information. These experiments will be carried out in brains of both fruit flies and rats.
The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience, funded by the McKnight Foundation of Minneapolis, has supported research in neuroscience since 1977. (William L. McKnight was an early leader of the 3M Company, with which the Foundation now has no connection.) The president of the Endowment Fund is Corey S. Goodman, Ph.D., Director of the Wills Neuroscience Institute of the University of California, Berkeley.