Michael Friedlander to present Distinguished Biology Seminar

Michael J. Friedlander, Ph.D.

Michael J. Friedlander, Ph.D.

On May 14, Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, will present the Director’s Distinguished Seminar of the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. His talk will focus on “Synapses with Minds of Their Own.”

Friedlander has made the dynamics of synapses—the chemical communication sites between nerve cells—a central focus of much of his scientific career. His current research is directed at understanding the processes that regulate alterations in synaptic efficiency between neurons within the cerebral cortex—known as synaptic plasticity—and how these cellular processes are affected during brain development; after experience, including learning; and in response to brain injury.

In his presentation at the University of Illinois, Friedlander will explore how multiple synaptic output sites that emanate from an individual nerve cell in the brain can have different behaviors in response to a learning experience, operating separately and independently, thus vastly increasing the information processing and learning capacity of a volume of brain tissue.

Before joining Virginia Tech in 2010, Friedlander served as the Wilhelmina Robertson Professor of Neuroscience, chair of the Department of Neuroscience, and director of neuroscience initiatives at Baylor College of Medicine. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, he is the president of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine. He also serves as senior dean for research at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, a professor of biological sciences at Virginia Tech’s College of Science, and a core faculty member of the Virginia Tech–Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.

Before undertaking a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Virginia, Friedlander earned his doctorate in physiology and biophysics from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. During his visit to his alma mater, Friedlander will also give a presentation to the University of Illinois chancellor, provost, medical school dean, and their colleagues on “New Models for Training Scientist–Physicians and the Role of Experiential Biomedical Research.”