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For Immediate Release: June 5, 2009
Contact: Gina Hebert, 508-289-7725, ghebert@mbl.edu

Hollis Cline
Hollis "Holly" T. Cline. Click for full-sized image.

Pioneering Neuroscientist to Discuss Brain Circuits as MBL Friday Evening Lecture Series Kicks Off, June 19

MBL, WOODS HOLE, MA—Hollis "Holly" T. Cline, professor at the Scripps Research Institute and co-director of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) Neurobiology course, will present the first Friday Evening Lecture of the 2009 season on June 19 at 8:00 PM in the MBL's Lillie Auditorium, located on MBL Street in Woods Hole. Her lecture, entitled "Building Brain Circuits,” is free and open to the public.

Dr. Cline’s research seeks to determine the mechanisms by which sensory experience affects the development of brain structures and function. It involves studies that investigate which genes and proteins are required for enhanced neuronal activity, and could have relevance to a variety of developmental neurological disorders such as Fragile X Syndrome, Rett's Syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, and schizophrenia—all of which are the result of errors in the development of brain circuitry.

During the assembly of functional brain circuits, neurons develop beautiful and complex structures reminiscent of trees. As the neuronal arbors grow they explore target areas in the brain and form synapses with other developing neurons. Circuits arise from the organized synaptic connections between neurons. Dr. Cline will discuss the Synaptotrophic Hypothesis, which states that synaptic connections between developing neurons control the exploratory behavior of developing neurons, the development of neuronal arbors, and consequently the establishment of neuronal circuits.

Dr. Cline is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and obtained her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. She then went on to Yale University and Stanford University as a postdoctoral fellow, and later became an assistant professor at the University of Iowa.

Dr. Cline moved to the Scripps Research Institute in 2008 from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory where she was a professor of Neuroscience for 14 years and director of research from 2002 to 2006. At Cold Spring Harbor, she made major contributions to the understanding of brain development and function including developing a system to image the changes in connections between nerve cells, or synapses, in vivo in near real time. Dr. Cline won a National Institutes of Health Pioneer Award in 2005 for highly creative, high-risk research.

The Friday Evening Lecture Series will continue throughout the summer at the MBL. The remaining lectures in the series are below.

June 26: Patricia Johnson, UCLA
"The Human Parasite Trichomonas vaginalis: One Cell, Multiple Revelations"

July 3: Susan Avery, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
“Coastal Cities, Coastal Impacts: The Tides They Are A-Changin'"

July 10: Daniel Rokhsar, University of California, Berkeley
"In the Beginning: Genomics of Animal Origins and Diversity"

July 16: David Julius, UC, San Francisco
“The Molecular Biology of Thermosensation and Pain”

July 17: David Julius, UC, San Francisco
“From Peppers to Peppermints: Understanding Pain Through the Power of Folk Medicine and Natural Products”

July 24: Paul Falkowski, Rutgers University
"The Microbial Engines that Drive Earth's Biogeochemical Cycles"

July 31: Martin Raff, University College London;
"Good News about Autism"

August 7: Eric Davidson, California Institute of Technology
"Gene Regulatory Networks: the Genomic Code for Embryonic Development"

August 14: Martin Chalfie, Columbia University, 2008 Nobel Laureate
"Touching Green Worms"

August 21: Josh Sanes, Harvard University
"The Circuits That Let Us See"


The MBL is a leading international, independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to discovery and to improving the human condition through creative research and education in the biological, biomedical and environmental sciences. Founded in 1888 as the Marine Biological Laboratory, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the Americas.