Nobel neurobiologist to give Breinin basic science lecture

Neurobiologist Torsten N. Wiesel, a 1981 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, will present the inaugural lecture of the Emory School of Medicine's Goodwin and Rose Helen Breinin Visiting Professorship in the Basic Sciences on Monday, Oct. 21, at 4 p.m. in Harland Cinema, Dobbs Center. The lecture is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception in the Winship Ballroom.

Wiesel and his former associate, David H. Hubel of Harvard Medical School, shared the Nobel Prize for their studies on how information is transmitted from the retina to the visual cortex of the brain. In addition to shedding light on how the cerebral cortex is organized at the cellular level, their work has had significant clinical implications. In the 1960s and 1970s they demonstrated that vision may be permanently impaired if both eyes are not properly stimulated during a critical period shortly after birth, providing strong impetus for clinicians to treat children born with cataracts at the earliest possible age.

Wiesel currently is president of The Rockefeller University and continues to conduct research on the organization and development of the central nervous system.

In his Emory lecture on "The Neural Basis of Visual Perception," Wiesel will discuss how single cells in the visual pathway respond to different stimuli. The principles of information processing in the brain's visual cortex appear to apply to all regions of the cortex, including those serving other sensory modalities, motor control, and perhaps even functions concerned with memory, language and thought.

The School of Medicine established the Goodwin and Rose Helen Breinin Visiting Professorship in the Basic Sciences in 1996. Breinin, an Emory medical school alumnus, is retired chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at New York University School of Medicine. During his academic career, he worked mainly on extraocular muscle contractility and ultrastructure and still spends his summers conducting research at Woods Hole, Mass. His strong interest in basic science led him to establish a fund to support the annual lectureship.

"We are extremely fortunate that Dr. and Mrs. Breinin have chosen to honor Emory by focusing on the basic sciences, which are the core of all our endeavors in medicine," said School of Medicine Dean Thomas Lawley. "While this year's inaugural lecture features a scientist who is representative of anatomy and cell biology, subsequent lectures will bring investigators from each of the basic science disciplines to Emory."

--Holly Korschun

Return to the October 14, 1996 contents page