Karel Svoboda, a group leader at the Janelia Farm Research Campus, will deliver a public lecture titled “Shining Light on How the Brain Works” at HHMI’s Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, VA.
Svoboda will speak on Wednesday, May 9, 2012, at 7 PM. The lecture, part of an ongoing series called “Dialogues of Discovery at Janelia Farm,” is free and open to the public, but tickets are required for admission. Directions for obtaining tickets are available on the Janelia Farm web site at www.janelia.org/events. Seating is limited to 250 people.
Svoboda, a neuroscientist, wants to understand how neurons, the cells of the brain, work together in huge circuits to produce our perception of the world. To investigate how the brain controls behavior, his lab studies the neural circuits that animals use to locate objects based on sensory cues. Using light-based tools, he can spy on these circuits in their habitat, namely the brain, and also manipulate circuits with tremendous precision.
The last 10 years have yielded revolutionary light-activated molecular tools, based on genes discovered in bacteria, algae, and marine organisms. Scientists use these tools to observe and manipulate neurons in the brain. Svoboda's presentation will provide a historical overview of these developments and highlight their importance for basic science and the treatment of brain disorders.
Svoboda has a long-standing interest in the development of optical and molecular methods for neuroscience. He has devised techniques so precise that he can detect the opening of single calcium channels in tiny synapses in the intact brain. As part of an interdisciplinary team at Janelia Farm, he is also developing better gene-based sensors of neural activity.
Prior to moving to Janelia Farm when the campus opened in 2006, Svoboda was an HHMI investigator at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He received a Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University and did his postdoctoral research at Bell Labs.
Recent speakers in the series have included Roger Perlmutter former Executive Vice President for Research and Development at Amgen, Inc.; Leslie Vosshall, HHMI investigator at The Rockefeller University; and Sean B. Carroll, HHMI vice president for Science Education.
The schedule of Dialogues of Discovery lectures for 2012 can be viewed at www.janelia.org/events.