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Shedding Light on Neurodegenerative Disease

Published October 17, 2019

Meet Viviana Gradinaru, PhD​

Winner of the 2017 Early-Career Scientist Innovators in Science Award.
Viviana Gradinaru, PhDCaltech

Viviana Gradinaru, PhD

Fascinated by neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, Viviana Gradinaru channeled her research efforts into understanding and literally illuminating brain circuitry. Her team was one of the first to use viral vectors to insert color-expressing genes into different cell types, thereby helping scientists visualize complex neural pathways. Her team has also developed tissue-clearing methods to render organs transparent.

Right now, Gradinaru is very focused on improving these technologies, which garnered her a 2017 Early-Career Scientist Innovators in Science Award. But in the long-term, in order to ensure this work reaches its full potential and impact, she's concentrating on "developing tools and perfecting them to the level where they can work in other people's hands." In all of this, she's working toward the goal of helping to develop and encourage the use of non-invasive therapies in neurodegenerative diseases.

Nominations for the 2020 Innovators in Science Award close on November 22, 2019. Learn more about how you can nominate someone here.