Biophysicist Roberto Fernandez Galan, Ph.D., who will join the department of neurosciences at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine as assistant professor in January 2008, has been named a scholar in the Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation Scholars Program in the Basic Sciences.
Galan is the twelfth School of Medicine faculty member to be named to the program since it began in 1998. The program enables the school to attract talented researchers to its basic science departments. In addition to neuroscience, the program has bolstered the School's research programs in physiology and biophysics, molecular biology and microbiology, pathology, nutrition, biochemistry and pharmacology. Researchers supported by the Mt. Sinai Scholars Program have gone on to successfully garner more than $12 million in external federal and foundation grants.
"We are excited to have Roberto Fernandez Galan join our faculty," said Dean Pamela B. Davis, M.D., Ph.D. "His area of research and his previous experience in collaborative works with other disciplines make him a welcome addition to the university and the School of Medicine. We are particularly eager to see him build bridges between our stellar departments of Neurosciences and Biomedical Engineering."
"Roberto Galan's recruitment to Case Western Reserve University is indicative of the very goals of the Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation Scholars Program in the Basic Sciences," said Mitchell Balk, President, The Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation. "He, and those who preceded him in this program, are the rising stars in the scientific community-individuals who fuel medical innovation and breakthroughs and contribute on a daily basis to the vibrant bioscience sector of our community."
Galan most recently was a postdoctoral associate researcher at Carnegie Mellon University and the Center for Neural Basis of Cognition in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he had been since October 2003.
"I'm very excited about coming to Case Western Reserve University," said Galan. "The University is a very attractive place to do research."
His main area of research interest combines theoretical and experimental approaches to neural dynamics and neural coding. His goal is to understand how complex activity patterns emerge in neural networks from the interactions between neurons. This "neuronal synchronization" is thought to play an important role in information processing by the brain, leading to oscillations - repeated fluctuations- better known as "brain waves." Galan's work has the potential to impact the thousands of neurological patients across the globe.
"I am hoping to expand the research lines of my new department in the direction of 'network/systems' and computational neuroscience," said Galan, whose doctoral thesis studied the olfactory system of the honeybee, finding that he was able to guess the odor smelt just by looking at the state of the insect's brain several minutes after it had smelt the odor.
His work with biology mathematics professor Bard Ermentrout and biology professor Nathan Urban to develop an experimental protocol concerning neural synchronization was chosen by Scientific America as one of 50 emerging trends in research, business and policy in 2005.
He has co-authored numerous works for journals and has been invited as a presenter and speaker at neuroscience conferences around the world.
A native of Madrid, Spain, Galan earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees in physics from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid in 1996 and 1999, respectively, and went on to obtain his Ph.D. in theoretical biophysics (computational neuroscience) at the Humboldt University Institute for Theoretical Biology in Berlin, Germany, in 2003.
Six other Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine faculty currently hold Mt. Sinai Scholar appointments. They are Erik Andrulis, Heather Broihier, Matthias Buck, Brian Cobb, Ben Strowbridge, and Patrick Viollier.
In addition to its generous support of the Scholars Program, the Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation has supported the health sciences at Case Western Reserve University for more than 10 years, including support of the Mt. Sinai Skills & Simulation Center and grants for recruitment in public health dentistry.