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The Brain Mapping Project: Opportunities and Challenges in Neuroscience

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  • Seminar Series
When Apr 15, 2013
from 01:00 PM to 02:30 PM
Where Engr. IV Bldg., Shannon Room 54-134
Contact Name
Contact Phone 310-825-9490
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Tom Otis

UCLA Neurobiology



This lecture will focus on opportunities and challenges related to the President’s recently announced $100 million commitment in his FY2014 budget for a BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) initiative. I will briefly summarize the initiative and the announced process by which NIH funding policy will be developed. The majority of the lecture will be devoted to a discussion, from a neuroscientist’s perspective, of state-of-the-art methods currently used to study brain circuit function at the neuronal level, of opportunities for improving these methods, and of the prospects for developing new approaches that could transform research on brain circuit function. The discussion will include research from my own lab as well as from the labs of other neuroscientists at UCLA.


Dr. Otis received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Biological Sciences in 1988 and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 1994 from Stanford University. His research utilizes classical neurophysiological and advanced optical approaches to study single neuron and circuit physiology in the brain. Published work includes studies that have made use of photolysis of caged compounds in intact brain circuits, optical manipulation of numerous photosensitive targets, the first use of LCOS spatial light modulator-based approaches to deliver patterned illumination for stimulating neuronal circuits, and diffraction-illuminated spot imaging of membrane potential from single neurons in brain using a FRET-based sensor he co-developed. The laboratory is using these techniques as well as optogenetic approaches to study circuit questions in the cerebellum and hippocampus under normal and pathophysiological circumstances. Dr. Otis has received numerous distinctions including a fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to support his doctoral studies, a Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique fellowship for sabbatical at Paris Descartes University, and a McKnight Foundation Award for Technological Innovation. He is currently Professor and Vice-Chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Vice-Chair of the Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Neuroscience at UCLA, and serves as an Associate Editor at the Journal of Neurophysiology.

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