Two Caltech biologists have been recipients of the National Institute of Health’s Director’s Awards, Caltech announced Monday. The awards, which come with grant funding, give scientists an opportunity to pursue cutting-edge health-related research that may lead to scientific breakthroughs.
Caltech biologist Doris Ying Tsao and geobiologist Dianne Newman received the awards.
Tsao, one of 10 scientists around the country to receive a Pioneer Award, will use the grant to study how the brain processes objects we see – such as a truck turning a corner -- and turns them into useful information.
"The retina essentially transmits an array of unconnected pixels to the brain. These are first processed locally, through various local filters for color, motion, etc., and the image does not yet contain objects, or bound units," Tsao said in a statement. "But after this, there is a mysterious operation that puts all these local pieces together for the first time—and that is what I am studying.”
Newman, one of 20 scientists to win a Transformative Research award, will study diseases that affect the lungs, a field where it is difficult to reproduce in the laboratory the conditions that people experience.
"We will tackle this critical knowledge gap using an approach inspired by geobiology," Newman said in a statement. "Geobiologists are experienced in studying the growth and metabolism of microbial populations in poorly accessible natural habitats by combining molecular biology and stable isotope geochemistry; we will apply these tools to the lung."
--Bill Kisliuk, Times Community News