Laureates 2004

2004 Future - Brain Sciences

Amiram Grinvald

grinwaldDr. Amiram Grinvald of the Weizmann Institute's Neurobiology Department is considered the world leader in functional optical imaging. He was the first to use the term optical imaging in a paper published in 1984. Technical innovation developed by Dr. Grinvald has had a profound impact on neurosciences. Visualizing electrical activity in the living brain, in real time, has been realized through Dr. Amiram Grinvald's method of optical imaging based on molecular probes called voltage-sensitive-dyes.

In the last 19 years, Dr. Grinvald has developed a second novel optical brain-mapping approach. Based on tracking color changes in the blood by supplying oxygen, Dr. Grinvald was able to identify the exact time and place in which nerve cells consume oxygen from the blood-dense micro-circulation system. The high resolution achieved by optical imaging enabled him to fully map individual cortical columns, the brain's so-called "microprocessors". These included visual system microprocessors related to shape, color, and motion perception.

Dr. Grinvald is Director of Murray H. & Meyer Grodetsky Center for Research of Higher Brain Functions at the Weizmann Institute of Science and is the incumbent of the Helen and Norman Asher Professorial Chair in Brain Research. He is also the Foreign Director of the Max Planck Institute for Medicine at Heidelberg and guest staff member at the Frontier Research Program at Riken in Japan. Dr. Grinvald was awarded the Koerber's 2000 Europe Prize.

Dr. Grinvald's accomplishments have made it possible to answer many unresolved questions in systems-neuroscience and to advance substantially its clinical application. In the US, Europe and Japan, clinical applications in neurosurgery operating rooms are currently being accomplished; Optical imaging has enabled neurosurgeons to delineate functional borders prior to excision of brain tumors or epileptic foci. Furthermore, the technique of intrinsic optical imaging has led to a quantum leap in ophthalmic diagnostics offering early diagnostics for older people, which may lead in the future to a treatment preventing blindness.

The 2004 Dan David Prize honors Dr. Amiram Grinvald in recognition of his innovative methods and his vision of sensory system function, which have significantly changed the way these systems are currently viewed by Neurobiologists.