Annual Rodolfo Llinás Lecture

The NYU Neuroscience Institute created the Annual Rodolfo Llinás Lecture Series in recognition of Dr. Rodolfo Llinás's exemplary contributions to the field of neuroscience throughout his long and distinguished career. Dr. György Buzsáki "presented" this legacy to Dr. Llinás at the 2013 Brain Meets Cognition Symposium. The lecture series will feature prominent neuroscientists whose areas of expertise build upon the seminal contributions of Dr. Llinás. Special thanks to Donna and Roys Poyiadjis for their continued support of this annual event. See details for the Third Annual Rodolfo Llinás Lecture below.

About Dr. Margaret S. Livingstone:

Margaret Livingstone is Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School.  She has done research on hormones and behavior, learning, dyslexia, and vision.  Dr. Livingstone has explored the ways in which vision science can understand and inform the world of visual art. She has written a popular lay book, Vision and Art, which has brought her acclaim in the art world as a scientist who can communicate with artists and art historians, with mutual benefit. She generated some important insights into the field, including a simple explanation for the elusive quality of the Mona Lisa’s smile (it is more visible to peripheral vision than to central vision) and the fact that Rembrandt, like a surprisingly large number of famous artists, was likely to have been stereoblind.  

Second Annual Rodolfo Llinás Lecture:

Photos from the 2015 Llinas Symposium. (Top Left) Dr. Gyorgy Buzsaki, Roys Poyiadjis, and Donna Poyiadjis, present speaker Dr. Richard Axel with a commemorative "neuron" in gratitude for his lecture. (Top Right) Dr. Axel's talk drew a full audience at NYULMC's Farkas Auditorium. (Bottom Left) Dr. Axel discusses olfaction with graduate student David Tingley. (Bottom Right) Dr. Rodolfo Llinas listens attentively from the audience.

About Dr. Richard Axel:

Richard Axel is University Professor and Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Columbia University Medical Center. Axel obtained an A.B. from Columbia College and an M.D. from Johns Hopkins Medical School. In earlier studies, Richard Axel and his colleagues, Michael Wigler and Saul Silverstein developed gene transfer techniques that permit the introduction of virtually any gene into any cell. These studies not only allowed for a novel approach to isolate genes but also provided a detailed analysis of how they worked. At the same time, these experiments allowed for the production of an increasingly large number of clinically important proteins. These studies also led to the isolation and functional analysis of a gene for the lymphocyte surface protein, CD4, the cellular receptor for the AIDS virus, HIV.

Dr. Axel then began to apply molecular biology to problems in neuroscience with the expectation that genetics could interface with neuroscience to approach the tenuousrelationship between genes, behavior, and perception. His studies on the logic of the sense of smell revealed over a thousand genes involved in the recognition of odors and provided insight into how genes shape our perception of the sensory environment. Dr. Axel’s current work centers on how the recognition of odors is translated into an internal representation of sensory quality in the brain and how this representation leads to meaningful thoughts and behavior. 

First Annual Rodolfo Llinás Lecture:

About Dr. Nikos Logothetis:

Nikos K. Logothetis is director of the department “Physiology of Cognitive Processes” at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics (MPIC), in Tübingen, Germany. He is also a faculty member at the Victoria University of Manchester (VUM) in England, and Honorary Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Tübingen. He received a B.S. in mathematics from the University of Athens, a B.S. in biology from the University of Thessaloniki, and his Ph.D. in human neurobiology from the Ludwig- Maximilians University in Munich. In 1985 he moved to the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department of M.I.T., where he initially worked as a postdoctoral fellow and later as Research Scientist. In 1990 he joined the faculty of the Division of Neuroscience at the Baylor College of Medicine. Seven years later he moved to the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics to continue his work on the physiological mechanisms underlying visual perception and object recognition.

In addition to visual cognition, his work at MPIC includes auditory perception and multisensory integration, as well as studies of plasticity and neuromodulation. Parallel to this ongoing research, a number of methods have been developed that permit the study of neural networks in the context of behavioral paradigms. Three high-field magnetic resonance imaging systems were designed and implemented for functional, anatomical and spectroscopic imaging. They permit simultaneous imaging and intracortical recordings and are being used to study the function, connectivity, and neurochemistry of the non-human primate brain and the rat, as well as the relationship of neural activity to the MR-measurable hemodynamic responses. Last but not least a group of synthetic and coordination chemists at MPIC are attempting to synthesize and evaluate MR-detectable smart probes that change magnetic properties as a function of the concentration of ions and molecules involved in neural signalling.

Nikos K. Logothetis is member of the German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina, of the Rodin Remediation Academy, Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. He is recipient of the DeBakey Award for Excellence in Science, the Golden Brain Award of the Minerva Foundation, the 2003 Louis-Jeantet Prize of Medicine, the 2004 Zülch-Prize for Neuroscience, the 2007 IPSEN Prize for Neuronal Plasticity, and the 2008 Alden Spencer Award of Columbia University, New York.

About Dr. Rodolfo Llinás:

Rodolfo Llinás, MD, PhD, a native of Colombia, received his medical degree from the Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia (1959), and his PhD in neurophysiology from the Australian National University (1965). During graduate school, he worked with Sir John Eccles investigating the neurons and circuitry of the cerebellum. He went on to conduct research in a number of academic institutions, including the Institute for Biomedical Research at the AMA Education and Research Foundation, the University of Iowa, and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He was recruited to NYU School of Medicine in 1976 as professor and chair, and was named the Thomas and Suzanne Murphy Professor in 1985.

Dr. Llinás has devoted his life’s work to understanding the nature of the brain and, as he has written, “the nature of what we are” as humans. His research encompasses many aspects of neuroscience and approaches that range from molecular to cognitive levels of inquiry. At the level of molecules, he revealed the existence of P-type calcium channels in cerebellar Purkinje neurons. At the sub-cellular level, he was instrumental in determining the role of calcium in release of neurotransmitter from presynaptic terminals. Among the many other fundamental discoveries from his research, he is especially known for his work on the physiology and connectivity of cerebellar, brainstem, spinal cord, and thalamic neurons. In recent years, his group has actively contributed to the application of human magnetoencephalography in the clinic. His research has been published in more than 500 articles, chapters, and other peer-reviewed publications, and Dr. Llinás has penned 10 books.

His list of external distinctions is broad and extensive: membership in the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the national medicine or science academies of Colombia, Spain, and France; honorary degrees from the University of Salamanca, Universidad de Barcelona, Universidad Nacional in Bogotá, Colombia, Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain, Toyama University Medical School in Japan, and University of Pavia, Italy; and current or past national membership and leadership in numerous professional societies, including the Marine Biological Laboratory, Society for Neuroscience, National Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Advisory Council of the NIH, and NASA’s Neurolab Science Working Group.

When Dr. Llinás joined the NYU School of Medicine, he chaired the Department of Physiology and Biophysics. He has since been instrumental in establishing NYU’s prominence in the field of neuroscience, which was marked, among other ways, by the renaming of the department to Physiology and Neuroscience in 1995. Dr. Llinás remained chair of the department for 35 years, stepping down in December 2011 and becoming a distinguished University Professor. He has established an enduring legacy and maintains a vibrant, active research group committed to unraveling the mysteries of the human mind.