Five BRAIN Initiative scientists elected as AAAS Honorary Fellows

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The prestigious AAAS Honorary Fellow class of 2021 includes five scientists whose research is supported by the BRAIN Initiative: Drs. Guoping Feng, Viviana Gradinaru, Susan Shore, Bing Ye, and Karen Zito. 

Each year, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) selects an influential group of scientists, innovators, and engineers who have made significant contributions to the advancement of science in multidisciplinary fields, including research, teaching, technology, and excellence in interpreting science findings to the public. In a tradition established in 1874, these fellows are elected annually by the AAAS Council members, with past fellows including Thomas Edison, Maria Mitchell, Steve Chu, and W.E.B DuBois. Last November, the AAAS council selected 564 members as Fellow of AAAS, including five scientists who received funding from the BRAIN Initiative.  

Guoping Feng, Ph.D., is the Associate Director for the McGovern Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Feng's research focuses on understanding the function and development of synapses, which connect neurons, and their role in brain disease. Through one of his BRAIN grants, Dr. Feng's group is developing next-generation genetic engineering tools in non-human primates (NHP), such as the marmoset, to understand brain function and dysfunction relevant to the human brain.  

Viviana Gradinaru, Ph.D., is a Professor of Neuroscience and Biological Engineering and the Director of the Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience Center of the Chen Institute at California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Dr. Gradinaru's research focuses on developing new neuromodulation methods that allow neuronal activity readout and control tools that are minimally invasive for early intervention and treatment of brain disorders. Through one of her BRAIN grants, Dr. Gradinaru and her team are developing a cell type-specific adeno- associated virus (AAV) for easy and non-invasive implementation of molecular tools designed to understand the nervous system in mammals, including humans. Advancement in specific-site delivery using AAV will create new opportunities for validation and dissemination of neuroscience tools. 

Susan E. Shore, Ph.D., is the Merle Lawrence Collegiate Professor of Otolaryngology Research at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Dr. Shore's research focuses on understanding the roles of the multisensory system which contributes to the auditory processing of the human brain. Through her BRAIN grant, Dr. Shore's study aims to manipulate the dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) circuitry that integrates auditory and somatosensory information to understand how this integration differs in normal and pathological conditions. Results from this study can be used to treat neural disorders such as tinnitus or Parkinson's disease. 

Bing Ye, Ph.D., is the Burton L. Baker Collegiate Professor of the Life Sciences at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Dr. Ye's research focuses on developing neurons' function in nervous systems and diseases. Through his BRAIN grant, Dr. Ye's research aims to create a user-friendly, open-source computational tool to understand the link between neuronal morphology and network connectivity. This information can be used to predict the properties of neuronal network bases from single neuron morphologies. The long-term goal of this research program is to develop a next-generation tool for neuron network modeling based on singular neuron structure, expanding the exploration on the theoretical framework, and discovering fundamental wiring laws in the brain. 

Karen Zito, Ph.D., is a Professor of Neurobiology, Physiology & Behavior, the University of California at Davis Center for Neuroscience. Dr. Zito's research focuses on understanding how synaptic connections form during development at a cellular and molecular level and how they are affected by experience and diseases. For example, research shows that altered synaptic transmission is associated with neurological disorders, including epilepsy, autism, and schizophrenia. Through her BRAIN grant, Dr. Zito's group aims to develop a new imaging tool using glutamate sensors that can track the real-time activity of synapses in living animals. The new imaging toolset can be used in advanced imaging techniques, such as confocal and two-photon microscopy, to understand further the relationship between neural activities of synapses and the stability of neural circuit connections.