Richard Winyu Tsien (born 3 March ), is a Chinese-born American neurobiologist and engineer. He is the Druckenmiller Professor of Neuroscience, Chair. We are studying how the location and identity of presynaptic calcium channels is regulated. Voltage-gated Ca2+ channels provide the critical link between the. Our lab works in many areas of neuroscience, with multiple approaches, but there is a unifying question: how are neuronal networks attuned to meeting the.
Tsien Richard W.
CaMKII, we will clarify how? Coordination between changes in postsynaptic receptors and presynaptic function will also be investigated, with a focus on retrograde signaling molecules such as BDNF. We will extend our studies to homeostasis at the level of recurrent circuits in cultured hippocampal slices, using an all-optical approach to visualize a hypothesized reallocation of presynaptic weights following inactivity. Finally, we will explore why inactivity-driven BK splicing is more severe in neurons derived from a mouse model of Timothy Syndrome, a rare form of ASD, thereby connecting malfunction of genes to cellular effects of relevance to disease states.
Taken together, our studies will clarify the homeostatic functions of key signaling proteins and offer a fresh approach to the possible links between the abnormal homeostatic adaptation and neuronal disorders like ASD. Synaptic strength must be regulated in the face of changing levels of input in order to ensure that neurons are able to maintain their output firing within reasonable limits. Homeostatic regulation of action potential configuration and synaptic efficacy works in conjunction with acutely induced Hebbian plasticity to maintain network stability and information flow.
Home chemistry experiments One of my earliest memories, probably from age 3 or 4, is of building a sand path at the beach across a strip of coarse pebbles that hurt my feet to cross.
I loved to draw maps of imaginary cities with freeways vaulting over or tunneling under the surface streets.
Perhaps these were the first signs of my future obsessions with bridge-building and activity-mapping. Then I discovered a book in the school library that had much better experiments and illustrations. Two experiments I remember best: CoCl 2 , NiSO 4 , CuSO 4 dropped into a solution of sodium silicate would develop bright magenta, green, or blue gelatinous coatings from which vertically rising dendrites would sprout; 2 preparation of a strongly alkaline 0.
As this solution passed through a folded cone of filter paper, its color changed to a beautiful green, reflecting reduction of MnO 4 — to MnO 4 2— , presumably by the cellulose.
In November , I reproduced this surprisingly little-known demonstration for Swedish television and Nobel Media as an example of what got me interested in chemistry. Both experiments reflect an early and long-lasting obsession with pretty colors. Mom and Dad looked for a town with affordable homes, within convenient commuting distance, and with good public schools for the three of us.
A photo from around then is Figure 1. They chose a new housing development in Livingston, NJ, but the developer refused to sell to us, saying that they could not permit Livingston to become a Chinatown, nor could they afford the likelihood that other customers would refuse to buy houses next to a Chinese family.
His office sent a letter to the developers warning them that racial discrimination was illegal. Finally a compromise was reached: The problem for us kids was that Livingston has lots of rocks in its soil, left from the glaciers. My parents were determined to have a respectable American-style grassy lawn, which required removal of the rocks. We had to cart away not only our own stones but many from our neighbors, who had used the unoccupied leftover lot as a dumping ground, or so we believed.
The many weeds in the lawn revealed a deep personality difference: Dad, as an impatient mechanical engineer, liked the instant solution of digging them up one by one from close enough to extirpate all the roots. I was an occasionally asthmatic hay fever sufferer, deeply afraid of pollen, so I advocated a chemical approach, sprinkling herbicide on the weeds from a safe distance. We tried my way once.
The weeds slowly turned brown but eventually recovered. Dad declared the experiment a failure and went back to hand weeding. I still think about this result in relation to our current research on cancer therapy. In , RCA closed its vacuum tube division, presumably because semiconductors were replacing tubes, so Dad moved to Esso later renamed Exxon Research and Engineering. Esso provided much better projects and pay, so he stayed until his retirement in I believe some of the chemicals and glassware that enabled me to do the more interesting chemistry experiments were diverted from the company stockroom.
Over the next 5 or 6 years I gradually did many of the classic experiments of inorganic chemistry in the basement of our house: I electrolyzed molten NaOH using a step-down transformer and rectifier from a model train set, the nickel crucible as cathode, and a carbon rod salvaged from a dead flashlight battery as anode.
I managed to get a few granules of very impure metallic sodium, which gave off a satisfying hiss when dropped into water.
Pyrotechnics were naturally of great interest: I made and ignited gunpowder, ammonium dichromate volcanoes, and even a spectacular thermite reaction with powdered aluminum and chromium oxide. My most ambitious attempt was a multistep sequence aimed at synthesizing aspirin, for which I needed acetic anhydride, which had to be made from acetyl chloride, for which I needed phosphorus trichloride, for which I needed to burn red phosphorus in a stream of chlorine gas. I tried to do this reaction sequence in flasks with rubber stoppers Figure 2 , because I had no glassware with ground glass joints.
The corrosive chemicals largely chewed up the rubber, so I did not get beyond acetyl chloride. Because I had no fume hood, I did the more dangerous experiments outdoors on a picnic table on the backyard patio. Looking back, I am appalled at how dangerous all this was for an unsupervised boy of 8 to 15, but it was also very good training in how to improvise equipment, plan and execute experiments, interpret confusing results, and decide how to do things better.
These experiments made me confident enough that when I had to earn my first merit badge as a Boy Scout and was advised to pick something really easy, I chose Chemistry. Tougher merit badges like Hiking, with its requirement for a twenty-mile hike in one day, I got later. Elementary school to high school; Westinghouse science talent search School was usually bearable but frequently boring. I really looked forward to days in winter when heavy snow would close school, so that I could spend the day sledding.
I was terrible at ball games at school, such as football, soccer, basketball, and softball, because I was small, nonathletic, and two years younger than my classmates at an age when this makes a huge difference. But I was popular enough in high school to be elected student council treasurer by an overwhelming majority.
Mom tried hard to teach us Chinese after school, but as I got older I found these lessons increasingly tedious. My first exposure to a research environment was in a National Science Foundation-sponsored summer research program at Ohio University in , where I was assigned to work in the laboratory of Prof. Robert Kline on the ambident coordination of thiocyanate SCN —. The Pearson theory of hard and soft ligands and metals was new and fashionable at the time, so Prof.
He hoped that the infrared absorbances of thiocyanate would tell us whether such bridging was taking place. I prepared a lot of amorphous precipitates of rather ill-defined composition and measured their infrared spectra. This annual event still exists, though sponsorship was taken over by Intel in For lack of any alternatives, I wrote up my Ohio University project, trying my best to draw some conclusions from a mess of dubious data.
Kline largely disowned those conclusions, pointing out that my preparations had not given correct carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen microanalyses. The 40 finalists were summoned to Washington DC in March for interviews and a public poster session. I remember being envious of my fellow finalists, who were much more adult and sophisticated. Also their projects and exhibits seemed much more exciting and explainable than mine. I felt intimidated by the senior judge, Glenn Seaborg , partly because of his commanding height, partly because he was chairman of the U.
Atomic Energy Commission, partly because of his Nobel Prize for work in inorganic chemistry. The awards ceremony was very tense for us because the ten scholarship winners were announced in reverse order, forcing everyone to hope their name was called but as late as possible. I am still mystified how I won first prize despite the unsoundness of my project, and I retain a dislike for scientific competitions.
Dad did his bit to keep me grounded: One of the most satisfying compliments I received was that the developer who had not wanted to sell a house to Mom and Dad in now used my photo in one of their advertisements as evidence of the quality of the local school system. From to , Tsien was a teaching fellow at Balliol College, Oxford.
In , Tsien went back to the United States , and became an assistant professor in the Department of Physiology at Yale University School of Medicine from to From to , Tsien was an associate professor in the same department, and was promoted to full professor in In , Tsien went to Stanford and founded the Stanford University Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, where he also served as the first chairman.
From to , Tsien was the George D. Tsien did important work on calcium channels , their mechanisms and roles in cell signaling pathways. Tsien's research also helps us understand the long-term plasticity of synapses. Tsien's youngest brother Roger Y.
Richard W. Tsien, DPhil
Neurotree: academic genealogy for Richard Tsien, New York University School of Medicine. Richard W. Tsien, DPhil, is Director of the Neuroscience Institute, Druckenmiller Professor of Neuroscience, and Chair of the Physiology and Neuroscience. Multiple types of neuronal calcium channels and their selective modulation. RW Tsien, D Lipscombe, DV Madison, KR Bley, AP Fox. Trends in neurosciences 11 .