Yang Dan, the Nan Fung Life Sciences Chancellor’s Chair in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and an HHMI investigator at UC Berkeley, is the winner of the 2023 Scolnick Prize.
The Scolnick Prize is awarded annually by the McGovern Institute to recognize outstanding advances in the field of neuroscience. The prize is named in honor of Edward M. Scolnick, who stepped down as president of Merck Research Laboratories in December 2002 after holding Merck’s top research post for 17 years. Scolnick is now at the Broad Institute, where he established the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research. He also served as a member of the McGovern Institute’s scientific advisory board. The prize, which is endowed through a gift from Merck to the McGovern Institute, consists of a $200,000 award, plus an inscribed gift.
The how and why of sleep
Sleep is a fundamental biological process, and its disruption has profound impacts on human health. To identify neurons involved in sleep generation, we have performed whole-brain screening for sleep active and sleep promoting neurons, using a combination of optogenetics, electrophysiology, imaging, and gene expression profiling. We found that sleep is controlled by a highly distributed network spanning the forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain, and the sleep neurons are part of the central somatic and autonomic motor circuits. To address the “why” question, we are now exploring how sleep interacts with the cardiovascular, immune, and neuroendocrine systems.
Yang Dan is the Nan Fung Life Sciences Chancellor’s Chair in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and an HHMI investigator at UC Berkeley. She studied physics as an undergraduate student at Peking University and received her Ph.D. training at Columbia University. She did her postdoctoral research on information coding in the visual system at Rockefeller University and Harvard Medical School. Her recent interest is to understand neural control and function of sleep. Using state-of-the-art techniques to target genetically defined cell types for recording and manipulation, her team has identified key circuits for the generation of both REM and non-REM sleep. Recently they have also begun investigating the function and homeostasis of sleep.
This lecture will be followed by a reception in the 3rd floor atrium with appetizers and drinks
This talk is available to the MIT community via zoom webinar: https://mit.zoom.us/j/93985974603