Every thought, behavior and feeling we have is a result of how the cells in our brain are wired. With nearly 100-billion neurons and 100-trillion connections between them, the human brain is an extraordinary mystery and one of the greatest challenges in medicine. For a brain to be healthy and functional, these billions of neurons must connect in precisely the right sequence so that they can communicate properly. Many neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder originate during brain development and may be caused by errors in the wiring process. But how do cells in the brain self-organize? How does a neuron navigate amongst a vast number other cells to form the right connections? The answers to these questions could transform the way we understand and treat mental illness and other neurological conditions.
Larry Zipursky’s research is illuminating how neurons connect up correctly. Zipursky has discovered thousands of different labels that control how connections between neurons form during brain development. As a result of his groundbreaking research, the rules by which neurons navigate the complex environment of a growing brain are being defined. Knowing how this process of brain wiring works will allow scientists to investigate how, why, and when it affects neuropsychiatric disorders. Zipursky’s research is revolutionizing our understanding of how the brain is built.
Larry Zipursky is a world-renowned scientist and has received many awards and honors recognizing his extraordinary contribution. In 2015, Zipursky was awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize. This prestigious prize is awarded internationally to one scientist per year in recognition of outstanding basic research in biology or biochemistry. Forty-three past recipients of the Horwitz Prize have won Nobel Prizes. Zipursky also has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. These memberships are two of the highest distinctions that a scientist can receive.
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