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NEI grantee Thomas R. Clandinin, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurobiology at Stanford University, has received one of the 2007 NIH Director’s Pioneer Awards http://grants.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/innovator_award/index.htm. NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., presented the 12 awards on September 19, 2007 at the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award Symposium. Dr. Clandinin will use his award to address a fundamental question in visual science: how do neural circuits in the brain integrate sensory information that leads to a behavioral response? His aim is to define the links between behavioral decisions and the underlying neural circuits in the visual system. His goal is to achieve an understanding that may fundamentally change our concept of the computational properties of the nervous system.
Dr. Clandinin is a neuroscientist who combines genetic approaches with analytical techniques adapted from systems neuroscience to determine how neural circuits process visual information. In his current NEI-funded project, he is studying the role of proteins, called cadherins, in controlling the formation of synapses. Genetic disruption of these proteins causes inherited forms of retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration. Understanding how cadherins function in the brain may suggest new therapeutic strategies.
Dr. Clandinin received a doctorate in biology from the California Institute of Technology in 1998. His other honors include a career development award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, a Sloan Research Fellowship, and a Scholar Award from the McKnight Foundation.