Ivan Soltesz, Chancellor’s Professor and chair of anatomy & neurobiology at UC Irvine, is among some 100 researchers being honored Sept. 30 at a White House ceremony for the BRAIN Initiative. Earlier in the day, the National Institutes of Health announced $46 million in support of myriad projects to develop new tools and technologies to foster a deeper understanding of neural circuit function. This could eventually lead to new treatments and cures for devastating brain disorders and diseases. Last year, President Barack Obama launched the BRAIN Initiative as a large-scale effort to equip researchers with fundamental insights necessary for addressing a wide variety of brain disorders.

Soltesz’s three-year, $1.95 million project will attempt to fully understand memory replay in terms of the detailed properties of the brain cells involved. He and his collaborators will use cutting-edge recording technologies to study and manipulate identified cell types; they’ll develop a novel method to provide needed information about connectivity among the neurons involved. The team will construct the first full-scale computational model of the brain area that produces memory replay in which every cell is explicitly simulated. These powerful new approaches are likely to yield major insights into the principles of neuron interaction that give rise to cognitive function, with important implications for memory disorders.

Soltesz’s collaborators include Attila Losonczy of Columbia University, Gyorgy Buzsaki of New York University and John Lisman of Brandeis University.

Soltesz, whose groundbreaking work is boosting our knowledge of brain cell microcircuitry, has been widely honored for his research related to epilepsy and traumatic brain injury, while blazing a trail in the emerging field of computational neuroscience.