MCB Professors Ehud Isacoff, Kristin Scott, and Hillel Adesnik were awarded $2 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to create and validate novel tools to measure neuronal activity, connectivity, and synaptic strength in defined neuron types.

Rather than relying on cell-type specific genetic promoters, Isacoff and colleagues plan to use light to turn on fluorescent reporters of activity in the desired neuron or group of neurons. This “turn-on” approach can be adapted to work with calcium, voltage, and glutamate indicators, as well as reporters of synaptic transmission. New tools will be validated for in vivo applications in brain circuit analysis and behavior in three model organisms: zebrafish, fruitfly and mouse.