Rafael Yuste: Exploring brain architecture and function with optical methods

The cortex participates in apparently widely different computational tasks, and Yuste's lab aims to understand the function of the cortical microcircuit.

10 June 2015

Rafael Yuste is Professor of Biological Sciences and Neuroscience at Columbia University. He was born and educated in Madrid, where he obtained his MD at the Universidad Autónoma in the Fundación Jimenez Diaz Hospital. He performed PhD studies with Larry Katz in Torsten Wiesel's laboratory at Rockefeller University in New York. He then moved to Bell Labs, where he was a postdoctoral student of David Tank and Winfried Denk. In 1996 he joined the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University. In 2005 he became HHMI Investigator and co-director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Circuits at Columbia and in 2014 Director of the Neurotechnology Center at Columbia.

Yuste is interested in the structure and function of cortical circuits, the biophysical properties of dendritic spines and the pathophysiology of epilepsy. To study these questions, he has pioneered the development of imaging techniques, such as calcium imaging of neuronal circuits, two-photon imaging of spines and circuits, photostimulation using inorganic caged compounds, two-photon optogenetics and holographic spatial light modulation microscopy. These technical developments have resulted in several patents, two of which are commercially licensed. Yuste has obtained many awards for his work, including New York City Mayor's, the Society for Neuroscience's Young Investigator and the NIH Director Pioneer Awards. Finally, he led the researchers who proposed the Brain Activity Map Project, recently sponsored by the White House's BRAIN initiative, a decade-long effort to build tools to measure and modulate the activity of brain circuits.

He serves on the program committee for the annual SPIE conference on Optogenetics and Optical Control of Cells in the Biomedical Optics Symposium (BiOS) at SPIE Photonics West, and is the 2016 chair of the Neurophotonics, Neurosurgery, and Optogenetics program track at BiOS.

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