Speakers

October 6

Zach W. Hall, Ph.D

Emeritus Professor and Executive Vice-Chancellor, University of California, San Francisco

Former Director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke


Dr. Zach W. Hall is a retired neuroscientist whose laboratory studied the molecular structure and development of the neuromuscular junction. He received his PhD with Dr. Edward Kravitz at Harvard University in 1966.  Following two years of post-doctoral work in the Department of Biochemistry at Stanford, Dr. Hall returned to Harvard Medical School to join the new Department of Neurobiology as an Assistant Professor. In 1976 he moved to UCSF, where he started the Neuroscience Graduate Program. From 1994-1997, he was Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke before returning to UCSF as Executive Vice Chancellor with responsibility for developing the new campus at Mission Bay. He then held a series of administrative positions, including the CEO of EnVivo Pharmaceuticals and later Associate Dean for Research at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. His last position was as the first President of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, a new state agency to fund stem cell research in California. 

Dr. Hall was one of the founding editors of Neuron, and is the author and editor of the textbook, An Introduction to Molecular Neurobiology. He has received a number of honors, including the Purkynje Medal from the Czech Academy of Sciences. Dr. Hall, who now lives in Wilson, WY, currently serves as an advisor and board member for Target ALS, a privately-funded research project to develop therapies for ALS.    

John G. Hildebrand, PhD

Foreign Secretary, U.S. National Academy of Sciences

Regents Professor, Department of Neuroscience, University of Arizona

Dr. John G. Hildebrand is Foreign Secretary of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and Regents Professor of Neuroscience and Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Entomology, and Molecular & Cellular Biology at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He was founding head of the university’s Division of Neurobiology (1985-2009) and the Department of Neuroscience after the division became a Department (2009-2013), as well as co-founder of the university’s Center for Insect Science, a unique and renowned academic enterprise. He earned his baccalaureate degree at Harvard University and his PhD (in Biochemistry) at The Rockefeller University. After 16 years as a faculty member at Harvard and Columbia Universities, Dr. Hildebrand moved to Arizona in 1985. His research fields are insect neurobiology and behavior, physiology and functions of the chemical senses, chemical ecology, and the biology of arthropod vectors of pathogens. A past president of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences, International Society of Chemical Ecology, and International Society for Neuroethology, he is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society, German Academy of Sciences 'Leopoldina’, Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters; an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society (UK); and a fellow of the AAAS, the Entomological Society of America, and the International Society for Neuroethology. Among his honors are the Wigglesworth Memorial Award of the Royal Entomological Society, an Einstein Professorship of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Silver Medal of the International Society of Chemical Ecology, a Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, and the R.H. Wright Award in Olfactory Research.

Edward A. Kravitz, PhD

George Packer Berry Professor of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School 

Dr. Edward A. Kravitz is the George Packer Berry Professor of Neurobiology at HMS. He is one of the original members of the Neurobiology Department having arrived at Harvard Medical School in 1960. His research interests have centered on neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, and now focus on explorations of the role of these substances in aggression using Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism. In earlier studies, he and colleagues were the first to demonstrate that GABA is a neurotransmitter, and with Tony Stretton, he was the first to demonstrate that an intracellular fluorescent dye could be successfully used to determine neuronal geometry. The Kravitz laboratory has published over 150 papers, and he maintains an active research program at HMS. 

Dr. Kravitz is a member of many professional and honorific societies including: the Society for Neuroscience; the International Society for Neuroethology; the National Academies of Sciences and Medicine; and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a Fellow of the AAAS and a member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives. Among his awards and honors, he is most proud of his “Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring” and “Harold Amos Diversity Awards“ from HMS and the “Education Award" from the Association of Neuroscience Departments and Programs. 

Dr. Kravitz has long-standing interests in education. He has served as the director of the Neurobiology Course at the MBL, was the co-founder and first chairman of the Neurobiology of Disease Teaching Workshops at the Society for Neuroscience, and was the founder and first director of the graduate Program in Neuroscience at Harvard University.  He is committed to the education of minorities in the sciences, and has worked with Native American, Black and Hispanic faculty, students and student groups at HMS, the MBL and other institutions. 

Rosalind Segal, MD, PhD

 Director, PhD Program in Neuroscience, Harvard Medical School

Co-chair, Department of Cancer Biology at Dana Farber Cancer Institute

Dr. Rosalind Segal graduated with a joint AB degree from Harvard College and Radcliffe College in 1979, and an MD and a PhD from Weill Cornell Medicine and The Rockefeller University, respectively, in 1986. Her dissertation research was conducted in the laboratory of Dr. David Luck. After completing residency training in Neurology in the Harvard affiliated hospitals in the Longwood Medical Area, Dr. Segal conducted postdoctoral research in molecular neuroscience in the laboratories of Drs. Ronald McKay and Charles Stiles. She started her own laboratory at Harvard Medical Schooland the affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in 1994 and moved the laboratory to its current site at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in 1998. Dr. Segal’s research focuses on critical extracellular factors that control the development of the nervous system, from neural stem cells to functional neural circuits. 

In addition to her research, a major emphasis of Dr. Segal’s professional life has been devoted toward the education of the next generation of neuroscientists. She has served as a faculty advisor in science at Radcliffe College. She is also the Co-Chair of the Department of Cancer Biology at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, as well as the Director of Harvard’s PhD Program in Neuroscience. She has mentored numerous graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, and serves as a faculty advisor for the Harvard Women in Neuroscience program.

 

Taralyn Tan, PhD

Curriculum Fellow, HMS Department of Neurobiology and Graduate Program in Neuroscience

Dr. Taralyn Tan received an Honors BS in Biochemistry and Biophysics from the University Honors College at Oregon State University, and she received her PhD in Neurobiology from Harvard University. Broadly interested in how the nervous system detects and processes sensory information to generate specific behavioral outcomes, Dr. Tan conducted her graduate dissertation research in the laboratory of Dr. Sandeep Robert Datta at Harvard Medical School, where she developed and applied novel in vivo anatomical tracing methods to define the neural architecture of a specialized olfactory subsystem in mice. 

Currently the Curriculum Fellow for the HMS Department of Neurobiology and graduate Program in Neuroscience, Dr. Tan is working with faculty to redefine the PiN curriculum to cater to students’ diverse academic backgrounds and research interests, and to incorporate current pedagogical best practices. Dr. Tan has a long-standing interest in developing educational resources that actively engage students and improve learning outcomes. Two of her educational songs (“March of the Proteins” and “Citrate Sonata”) have been published in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, and she is a co-author of the open-access biochemistry textbook, Biochemistry Free For All, for which she designed interactive, online learning modules. She is also passionate about scientific outreach and has served as a mentor and teacher in a variety of HMS programs that provide educational opportunities to groups of students who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields.

October 7

Gerald D. Fischbach, MD

Chief Scientist of the Simons Foundation and Fellow of the Simons Foundation

Dr. Gerald D. Fischbach joined the Simons Foundation in 2006 to oversee the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, and is now the foundation’s first chief scientist and its first fellow. Formerly Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences at Columbia University, and Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health from 1998-2001, Dr. Fischbach received his MD degree in 1965 from Cornell University Medical School and interned at the University of Washington Hospital in Seattle. He began his research career at the National Institutes of Health, serving from 1966-1973. He subsequently served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, first as Associate Professor of Pharmacology from 1973-1978, and then as Professor until 1981. From 1981-1990, Dr. Fischbach was the Edison Professor of Neurobiology and head of the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at Washington University School of Medicine. In 1990, he returned to Harvard Medical School where he was the Nathan Marsh Pusey Professor of Neurobiology and Chairman of the Neurobiology Departments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital until 1998.

Throughout his career, Dr. Fischbach has studied the formation and maintenance of synapses, the contacts between nerve cells and their targets through which information is transferred in the nervous system. He pioneered the use of nerve cell cultures to study the electrophysiology, morphology, and biochemistry of developing nerve-muscle and inter-neuronal synapses. His current research is focused on the roles that neurotrophic factors play in determination of neural precursor fate, synapse formation, and neuronal survival.

Dr. Fischbach is a past president of the Society of Neuroscience and serves on several medical and scientific advisory boards. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a former non-resident fellow of the Salk Institute.

Christopher D. Harvey, PhD

Assistant Professor of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Christopher D. Harvey was appointed as Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School in 2012. Dr. Harvey came to Harvard Medical School following his time as a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University and as a predoctoral fellow at the Watson School of Biological Sciences at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. 

Dr. Harvey has pioneered the development of new technologies, including optical imaging, electrophysiological, and virtual reality systems for rodents, to study the principles linking neural function and cognitive behaviors. His research has discovered fundamentals of neural circuit function in the mammalian cortex during decision-making. 

Dr. Harvey is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including: the National Institutes of Health BRAINS Award, New York Stem Cell Foundation Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Award, the Searle Scholars Award, the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award at the Scientific Interface, and the Larry Katz Memorial Prize in Neural Circuits. 

Helen Xun Hou

Graduate Student, PhD Program in Neuroscience, Harvard University

Ms. Helen Xun Hou is currently a graduate student in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard University. She received her Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology and Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and joined the PhD Program in Neuroscience in 2010 under the guidance of Dr. Bernardo Sabatini. For her PhD work, inspired by the exquisite bladder control many animals exhibit in territorial marking behavior for social communication, she focused on elucidating the mechanisms by which the central nervous system implements the context-dependent micturition behavior. Ms. Hou’s dissertation research is supported by the Stuart H.Q. & Victoria Quan Fellowship in Neurobiology.

Ms. Hou has taught at the MIT-based Middle East Education Through Technology Program, and as an instructor that designed a new undergraduate neuroscience tutorial recognized by the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching. Ms. Hou was awarded a Grass Fellowship to conduct independent research in summer 2016 at Marine Biology Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA.

A. James Hudspeth, MD, PhD

F.M. Kirby Professor, Laboratory of Sensory Neuroscience, The Rockefeller University

Born and raised in Houston, Dr. A. James Hudspeth conducted undergraduate studies at Harvard College and received PhD and MD degrees from Harvard Medical School. Following postdoctoral work at the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, he served on the faculties of the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.  

After joining the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Dr. Hudspeth moved to The Rockefeller University, where he is the F. M. Kirby Professor and Head of the Laboratory of Sensory Neuroscience. Dr. Hudspeth conducts research on hair cells, the sensory receptors of the inner ear.  He and his colleagues are especially interested in the active process that sensitizes the ear, sharpens its frequency selectivity, and broadens its dynamic range. They also investigate the replacement of hair cells as a potential therapy for hearing loss. Dr. Hudspeth is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.

Thomas M. Jessell, PhD

Claire Tow Professor in the Department of Neuroscience and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Columbia University

Co-director, Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute

Co-director, Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia University

Dr. Thomas M. Jessell is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Claire Tow Professor in the Departments of Neuroscience and Biochemistry at Columbia University. Dr. Jessell is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, a member of the US Institute of Medicine, and a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences. His work has been recognized by numerous awards. He is a co-editor of the textbook Principles of Neural Science

Dr. Jessell’s research examines the cellular and molecular mechanisms that control the assembly and function of circuits for mammalian motor control. His work has defined how diverse neuronal subtypes assemble into motor circuits and how the precision and logic of network wiring contributes to refined motor skills. His most recent studies are focused on circuits that control two forms of limb motor behavior: locomotion and skilled reaching. He has defined the cellular rules and molecular mechanisms that direct the intricate wiring of these motor circuits. In parallel, he uses insights into the molecular origins of neuronal subtype to devise precise genetic methods to monitor and manipulate the activity of selected classes of interneurons, permitting an insight into the design of systems engaged in the planning and execution of movement.

Story Landis, PhD

Director Emeritus, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health

 

Throughout her research career, Dr. Story Landis made fundamental contributions to the understanding of how functionally appropriate synapses form during development and the role of neurotrophins in peripheral nervous system. Dr. Landis received her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College and her PhD from Harvard University. After postdoctoral work at Harvard University, she served on the faculty of the Department of Neurobiology there. In 1985, she moved to Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, where she created the Department of Neurosciences. Dr. Landis joined the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in 1995 as Scientific Director. She re-engineered the lnstitute's intramural research program and fostered a trans-NIH neuroscience research community that led to the construction of the Porter Neuroscience Building. From 2003 to 2014, Dr. Landis served as the Director of NINDS, overseeing an annual budget of $1.6 billion that supported research by investigators in its intramural program and public and private institutions. Together with NIMH and NIA directors, she chaired the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research, a roadmap-like effort to fund trans-institute brain research. In 2013 and 2014, she and Dr. Tom Insel played a key role in launching the NIH BRAIN Initiative. Dr. Landis currently serves on several scientific advisory boards including Allen Institute for Brain Science, the Vollum Institute at OHSU, the Neurological Research Institute at Baylor College of Medicine and the HHMI Scientific Review Board. She is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Medicine, the Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2015, she received the Ralph W. Gerard Prize from the Society of Neuroscience for her outstanding contributions to neuroscience.

 

Roderick MacKinnon, MD

John D. Rockefeller Jr. Professor, Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology and Biophysics, The Rockefeller University 

Dr. Roderick MacKinnon’s research has aimed to understand the molecular mechanisms of a class of integral membrane proteins known as ion channels. He received an undergraduate degree from Brandeis University, a medical degree from Tufts University, and training in internal medicine at Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard Medical School. He began his scientific career studying the biophysics of potassium channels at Brandeis University from 1986-1989. Dr. MacKinnon joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School as Assistant Professor of Physiology (1989), Associate Professor of Neurobiology (1992), and Professor of Neurobiology (1995). During this period he and his laboratory characterized potassium channels­­, their subunit stoichiometry, pore-lining amino acids, and components of their gates­, through biochemical and functional analysis. Dr. MacKinnon moved to The Rockefeller University in 1996 and became an investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1997. 

Over the past twenty years his laboratory provided the first atomic structures of selective ion channels, which have revealed the chemical basis of potassium and chloride ion selectivity. They have also determined the atomic structures and discovered mechanisms of voltage-dependent, G-protein-dependent, and lipid-gated ion channels, all of which underlie the complex electrical signals produced in the central nervous system. In 2003, Dr. MacKinnon received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on ion channel activation.

Matthew Y. Pecot, PhD

Assistant Professor of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Matthew Y. Pecot discovered his passion for science during his undergraduate career at UCSD. Dr. Paul Saltman, a Professor of Biology and instructor of metabolic biochemistry, had a tremendous influence on Dr. Pecot’s decision to pursue a career in science. 

As a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Vivek Malhotra at UCSD, Dr. Pecot focused on communication between the Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) and Golgi apparatus. His work helped demonstrate that, during cell division in mammalian cells, the existing Golgi apparatus is inherited by daughter cells and Golgi membranes are not generated de novo from the ER after each division, as had been proposed at the time. For his postdoctoral research, he sought to understand the molecular logic underlying neural circuit assembly using the fly visual system as a model in the laboratory of Dr. Larry Zipursky at UCLA. His work helped elucidate molecular mechanisms underlying the formation of synaptic layers, a conserved organizational feature of the nervous system thought to provide a structural basis for extracting salient features from the environment. 

Dr. Pecot opened his laboratory in the Department of Neurobiology on September 1, 2014. The goal of his laboratory is to identify general molecular and cellular principles underlying the precise wiring of the nervous system. For now, his lab remains focused on the fly visual system, and seeks to understand how cell recognition molecules allow neurons to distinguish one another and form connections with appropriate partners. In addition, the lab has recently become interested in the idea that overarching transcriptional mechanisms provide a molecular logic for establishing precise patterns of neural connectivity. 

Dragana Rogulja, PhD

Assistant Professor of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Dragana Rogulja was born and grew up in Belgrade, Serbia. She joined the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School in 2013 as an Assistant Professor. She received her PhD from Dr. Kenneth Irvine’s laboratory at Rutgers University, where she studied how morphogen gradients control proliferation of developing tissues.

Dr. Rogulja’s postdoctoral studies were done at The Rockefeller University with Dr. Michael Young, one of the pioneers of circadian biology. There, she studied sleep using Drosophila as a model, and found a sleep-regulating role for several cell cycle genes in the adult nervous system. 

The Rogulja lab continues to study sleep on a molecular and circuit level. They developed a novel approach to studying sleep states in the fly, which they are using to understand how information flow changes between wakefulness and sleep. Other studies pursued in the lab focus on the physiological basis for sleep need, contextualization of external cues based on internal states, and behavioral flexibility.

Carla J. Shatz, PhD

 

Sapp Family Provostial Professor of Biology and of Neurobiology, David Starr Jordan Director, Stanford Bio-X

Dr. Carla J. Shatz is the Sapp Family Provostial Professor of Biology and Neurobiology and the David Starr Jordan Director of Bio-X, Stanford University’s pioneering interdisciplinary biosciences program. She received her BA in Chemistry from Harvard (Radcliffe College) in 1969, an MPhil (Physiology; 1971) from University College London as a Marshall Scholar, and her PhD (Neurobiology; 1976) from Harvard Medical School. Dr. Shatz joined the faculty at Stanford in 1978, then moved to University of California at Berkeley in 1992, and then to Harvard Medical School in 2000, where she was the first woman to Chair the Department of Neurobiology. She returned to Stanford in 2007 to direct Bio-X.

Dr. Shatz is a neuroscientist who has devoted her career to understanding the dynamic interplay between genes and environment that shapes brain circuits—the very essence of our being. Dr. Shatz has earned many honors and awards, including election to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Royal Society of London. She received the Gruber Neuroscience Prize in 2015. Most recently (2016), she shared the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience with Eve Marder and Michael Merzenich for the discovery of mechanisms that allow experience and neural activity to remodel brain circuits.

Doris Tsao, PhD

Professor of Biology, California Institute of Technology

Dr. Doris Tsao is a professor of Biology at the California Institute of Technology and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She joined the Caltech faculty in 2009, and prior to that was head of an independent research group at the University of Bremen. Dr. Tsao studied biology and mathematics at Caltech as an undergraduate and received her PhD in Neuroscience from Harvard in 2002, under the guidance of Dr. Margaret Livingstone. Dr. Tsao seeks to understand how visual objects are represented in the brain, and how these representations are used to guide behavior. 

Dr. Tsao is widely recognized for pioneering the use of fMRI to target electrodes for studying visual processing in monkeys, and in particular, for her co-discovery of the macaque face patch system, a network of six regions in the temporal lobe dedicated to face processing.  She has received multiple honors including the Sofia Kovalevskaya Award, the Eppendorf and Science International Prize in Neurobiology, Technology Review TR35, Searle Scholar Award, the NIH Pioneer Award, and the Minerva Foundation Golden Brain Award.

Stacie Weninger, PhD

Executive Director, F-Prime Biomedical Research Initiative

Dr. Stacie Weninger is the Executive Director of the F-Prime Biomedical Research Initiative. Prior to this position, she was the Senior Director of Science Programs for the Fidelity Foundations. In 2005, Dr. Weninger served as the Project Manager and Senior Analyst for the Task Force on Women in Science at Harvard University. From 2001-2005, Dr. Weninger was a Senior Scientist at Cell Press for the journal Neuron. Before joining Cell Press, Dr. Weninger was a postdoctoral research fellow at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School with Dr. Bruce Yankner. She was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute predoctoral fellow in the Program in Neuroscience at Harvard. While a graduate student and postdoctoral research fellow, Dr. Weninger was actively involved in undergraduate teaching, winning six teaching awards.

Dr. Weninger received a PhD in Neuroscience from Harvard University, and a BS degree in Chemistry with highest honors from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She currently chairs the Collaboration for Alzheimer’s Prevention; is President of Alzforum; serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for Rugen Therapeutics; serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Denali Therapeutics, Zebra Medical Technologies, Aratome, Inscopix, BRI-Tolan, and Q-State Biosciences; and she previously served as a member of the Board of Directors for Annexon Biosciences and BRI-Alzan.

Torsten N. Wiesel, MD

President Emeritus, The Rockefeller University
Nobel Laureate, Physiology or Medicine, 1981
US National Medal of Science, 2005

Dr. Torsten N. Wiesel is Chair of the Board of Governors of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in Japan and is President Emeritus of The Rockefeller University. In 1981 Dr. Wiesel shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology of Medicine with Dr. David Hubel for their discoveries concerning information processing in the visual system. He is also a recipient of the 2005 U.S. National Medal of Science.

Dr. Wiesel received his medical degree from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm in 1954. He began a fellowship in ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins University Medical School in 1955 and became an assistant professor there in 1958. The following year, Dr. Wiesel became an instructor in Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School, beginning a 24-year career with the university. He became professor in the new Department of Neurobiology in 1968 and its chair in 1971.  

In 1983, Dr. Wiesel moved to The Rockefeller University as the Vincent and Brooke Astor Professor and Head of the Laboratory of Neurobiology. He was President of The Rockefeller University from 1991 to 1998. Since retiring from this position, Dr. Wiesel has turned his attention to international science advocacy. He has long served as Chair of the scientific advisory committee of the Pew Scholars Program and helped initiate its Latin American Fellows Program in the Biomedical Sciences. From 2000-2009, he served as secretary general of the Human Frontier Science Program. He was awarded the David Rall Medal from the Institute of Medicine for his service from 1994-2004 as chair of the Committee on Human Rights at the National Academies of Sciences. 

King-Wai Yau, PhD

Professor of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Dr. King-Wai Yau was born in China and grew up in Hong Kong. After high school and a year of medical school there, he came to the United States and received an AB in Physics from Princeton University (1971) and a PhD in Neurobiology from Harvard University (1975) under Dr. John G. Nicholls. He did postdoctoral work with Dr. Denis Baylor at Stanford and with Dr. Alan Hodgkin at Cambridge, England. In 1981, he moved to Department of Physiology and Biophysics at University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, becoming professor in 1985. A year later, Dr. Yau relocated to Johns Hopkins as Professor of Neuroscience and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. He has been there since.  

Dr. Yau’s research interests lie in visual and olfactory transductions. He has contributed greatly to understanding visual transductions in retinal rods and cones (largely for image vision) and in melanopsin-expressing, intrinsically-photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (largely for non-image vision). Recently, he discovered yet additional ocular photoreceptors in and outside the retina. Dr. Yau has also done fundamental work on olfactory transduction, especially regarding its difference in signal amplification from rod phototransduction that may apply generally to G-protein-coupled-receptor signaling. Dr. Yau is a member of National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of American Academy of Arts and Sciences.