The Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Janelia Research Campus invite the public to attend the next Dialogues of Discovery lecture. Karel Svoboda, a group leader at the Janelia Research Campus, will deliver a public lecture titled “Shining Light on How the Brain Works” at HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn, VA.
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, he is also developing better gene-based sensors of neural activity.
Prior to moving to Janelia 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.