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UCSF pair win Gruber Foundation Neuroscience prize
Date:6/12/2012

neurotransmitters, or chemicals that transfer messages from one neuron to another. That landmark finding has led scientists to identify dozens of other peptide neurotransmitters, whose properties and function are now actively studied for their role in health and disease.

The Jans have also been pioneers in the study of potassium channels, which are pores on the membranes of nerve cells that serve as gatekeepers for charged atoms (potassium ions) as they flow in and out of the cells. They discovered that potassium channel abnormalities were responsible for the atypical limb movements of a mutant strain of fruit flies known as "Shaker." In 1987, they reported (in another landmark paper) the cloning of the Shaker genethe first successful cloning of a gene for a potassium ion channel. Since then, dozens of human genes encoding various potassium ion channels have been cloned, and mutations in these genes have been linked to a variety of diseases. The Jans have contributed to many important advances in this field.

In addition to their seminal work on potassium channels, the Jans have made significant discoveries in the field of developmental neuroscience. They have helped describe various aspects of embryonic brain development, including how neurons use certain proteins to acquire their identity; how the division of a single neural progenitor cell can generate two dissimilar "daughter" cells, thus ensuring cellular diversity in the mature brain; and how neurons develop dendrites, the branched extension of neurons that receive and integrate sensory inputs and signals from nearby neurons.

Additional Information

In addition to the cash award, the recipients will receive a gold medal and a citation that reads:

The Gruber Foundation proudly presents the 2012 Neuroscience Prize to Lily and Yuh Nung Jan for their fundamental contributions to our understanding of both voltage-gated ion channels and neural development.

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Contact: Sara Hrera
media@gruberprizes.org
212-247-8484
Yale University
Source:Eurekalert

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