Dr. Axel Nimmerjahn, assistant professor in the Waitt Advanced Biophotonics Center and holder of the Richard Allan Barry Developmental Chair at the Salk Institute, has been named a 2011 Rita Allen Scholar.
Nimmerjahn is one of seven scientists out of 28 candidates to be selected this year and only the third Salk faculty member to receive this award.
He will receive $500,000 over a five-year period to pursue his research into the role of glial cells in neurovascular coupling, the temporal and spatial coupling between increased neural activity and cerebral blood flow. Glial cells constitute the majority of human brain cells and dynamically interact with neurons and other cells. Once thought to play only a passive, supportive role, glia are now emerging as active players in healthy brain function. Additionally, glia are critically involved in many injuries and diseases including spinal-cord injury, glioma, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Alexander's disease.