Physics Professor Steven Chu selected as AAAS president-elect

Steven Chu, a professor of physics at Stanford University and the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, has been chosen as the president-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), an international nonprofit organization with a mission to “advance science, engineering and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people.”

3-D Protein Structure Offers Insight into Rapid Communication by Brain Cells

New research reveals how three proteins help brain cells synchronize the release of chemical signals. A similar interaction may play a role in how cells secrete insulin and airway mucus, too.

The Goldilocks effect: Dying cells signal to replacements to keep organ size “just right”

The size of organs like our hearts, stomachs, and lungs are predetermined during development. But how does this happen? The cells that make up these organs have limited lifespans. How do our bodies ensure that, as old cells die off and new cells take their places, our organs don’t grow abnormally large or shrink away?

  • Stanford faculty named in first cohort of Chan Zuckerberg Biohub investigators

    The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub committed more than $50 million to support 47 of the best investigators from Bay Area universities, including Brian Kobilka among the 19 at Stanford University. These investigators each receive a five year appointment and funding to carry out non-conventional scientific exploration and to invent new tools to accelerate the pace of discovery toward curing, preventing and managing every disease.

  • Five faculty members elected to National Academy of Medicine

    The academy elected Stanford faculty members Laura Carstensen, Christopher Garcia, Mark Krasnow, Mark Musen and Thomas Rando to its membership. Garcia is a professor of molecular and cellular physiology and of structural biology, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. His research focuses on understanding and manipulating interactions between receptors and ligands, particularly in the fields of immunology, stem cell biology and neurobiology.

  • Seven researchers receive NIH grants for ‘high-risk’ work

    Aashish Manglik received an Early Independence Award, which supports promising young investigators with up to $1.25 million over five years. The awards are meant to allow exceptional early career scientists to more quickly assume independent research positions by eliminating or shortening the traditional postdoctoral training period. Manglik, MD, PhD, instructor of molecular and cellular physiology, focuses on decoding the molecular basis of transmembrane signaling and transport in order to understand how cells recognize and respond to their extracellular environment.

  • Scientists Discover Atomic-resolution Details of Brain Signaling

    Axel Brunger, the study's Principal Investigator, and scientists have revealed never-before-seen-details of how our brain sends rapid-fire messages between its cells. They mapped the 3-D atomic structure of a two-part protein complex that controls the release of signaling chemicals, called neurotransmitters, from brain cells. Understanding how cells release those signals in less than one-thousandth of a second could help launch a new wave of research on drugs for treating brain disorders.

    See more at doi:10.1038/nature14975.

  • Kobilka elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

    Brian Kobilka was among the 197 “thinkers and doers” elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2015. The academy, one of the country’s most prestigious honorary societies, is a leading center for independent policy research.

  • New insights into how the brain stays bright

    Axel Brunger, PhD, professor and chair of Stanford’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Physioogy , and a team composed of several Stanford colleagues and UCSF scientists including Yifan Cheng, PhD, have moved neuroscience a step forward with a close-up inspection of a brain-wide nano-recycling operation. They determined atomic-resolution structures by single particle electron cryo-microscopy which show a protein called NSF alone and interacting with its target, a protein complex called SNARE that is formed when membranes fuse together.

    See more at: doi:10.1038/nature14148

  • Chris Garcia wins Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award 2014

    Recent graduate of the Immunology program, Michael Birnbaum, honored his former mentor Dr. K. Christopher Garcia, recipient of the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award, with a humorous roast at this year's holiday party. Using protein engineering techniques, the Garcia Lab studies how the structure and biochemical properties of T cell and cytokine receptors can affect downstream signalling.

  • Miriam Goodman awarded Excellence in Graduate Education 2014

    Dr. Mirriam Goodman, along with 10 other faculty members, earned the Excellence in Teaching Award in recognition of her effort to develop and implement an innovative and closely mentored experience for PhD students as they entered their training in the biosciences.

  • From the Brunger lab: Complexin inhibits spontaneous release and synchronizes Ca2+-triggered synaptic vesicle fusion by distinct mechanisms

    The Brunger lab developed a single vesicle fusion assay that mimics characteristics of calcium-triggered synaptic vesicle fusion as well as spontaneous release. The assay qualitatively reproduces the effects of complexin-1 and key mutations on both spontaneous release and evoked release that have been observed in cortical neuronal cultures.

    See more at:

  • From the Madison lab: Blocking brains's 'internal marijuana' may trigger early Alzheimer's deficits, study shows

    A-beta, a substance suspected as a prime culprit in Alzheimer’s disease, may start impairing learning and memory long before plaques form in the brain.