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Neurobiologist Named 2009 Pew Scholar

Neurobiologist Named 2009 Pew Scholar

The Pew Charitable Trusts announced yesterday that Dr. Nicholas J. Priebe was selected as a 2009 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences.

Awards this year were given to 17 early-career scientists who display outstanding promise in research relevant to the advancement of human health.

As a Pew Scholar, Priebe will receive a $240,000 award over four years to support his research and gains inclusion into a select community of scientists that encourages collaboration and the exchange of ideas.

“Pew’s Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences recognizes and supports promising young scientists in advancing human health,” says Shelley A. Hearne, managing director of the Pew Health Group. “Unlike many traditional research grants with strict guidelines on how funds must be used, our program allows participants to try out new investigative directions as their research unfolds. Flexibility, we feel, is an important key to encouraging the scientific creativity that often leads to spectacular results.”

Priebe, an assistant professor in the Section of Neurobiology, joined The University of Texas at Austin in 2008. He received his doctorate in physiology from the University of California, San Francisco, in 2001. He completed his postdoctoral work at Northwestern University in the Department of Neurobiology and Physiology.

Priebe’s research is focused on understanding how cortical neurons in the brain translate their signals into a visual response. Specifically, he is investigating binocularity to determine how the brain integrates the inputs of signals to the cortical neurons from two eyes, and how different experiences alter this process.

The goal of his research is to measure the synaptic inputs through in vivo whole cell recordings of the cortical neurons in response to changes in the visual environment so that he can test how mechanisms, such as inhibition or excitation, lead to binocularity. This work will not only lead to an understanding of visual response and possible treatments for visual disorders, but also will increase our understanding of basic neuronal mechanisms related to learning and memory.

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