Dr. Ben Barres, professor, department of neurobiology, Stanford University, has received the 2011 Mathilde Solowey Lecture Award in the Neurosciences for his pioneering research on neuron-glia interactions in the central nervous system (CNS).
The annual award, which is administered by the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences, honors rising neuroscientists for innovative research with significant translational potential. Barres will deliver a lecture titled, “What Do Astrocytes Do?” at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 25 in Lipsett Amphitheater, Bldg. 10.
Barres directs a group that focuses on the role of neuron-glial interactions in the mammalian CNS, with emphasis on understanding the basis of CNS regenerative and remyelinative failure, the blood-brain barrier and the role of astrocytes at synapses. The group has developed methods to highly purify and culture retinal ganglion cells as well as the glial cell types they interact with—oligodendrocytes and astrocytes—from the rodent optic nerve.
Using a variety of methods, including cell purification by immunopanning, tissue culture, patch clamping, immunohistochemistry and molecular biology, the lab has found evidence of several novel glial signals that induce the onset of myelination, the clustering of axonal sodium channels, the survival and growth of retinal ganglion cells and the formation of synapses. They are characterizing these processes and identifying the key glial-derived molecules. Publications have appeared in Nature, Cell, Neuron and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Barres received his B.S. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, M.D. from Dartmouth Medical School, his Ph.D. with David Corey at Harvard Medical School and his postdoctoral fellowship with Martin Raff at University College London. He presently serves as chair of the department of neurobiology at Stanford and sits on many editorial boards including Neuron, Science, Development and the Journal of Cell Biology.
Barres is creator and director of the Masters of Science in Medicine Program (msm.stanford.edu), a new program at Stanford to train Ph.D. students about human biology and disease. He is a founding member of the Myelin Repair Foundation, which focuses on translational research to develop new drugs for multiple sclerosis. Barres is transgendered, an elected fellow of American Women in Science and an activist for the rights of women and minorities.