Lawrence C. Katz Memorial Lecture
Vanessa Ruta, hosted by Kevin Franks
Vanessa Ruta, PhD, Gabrielle H. Reem and Herbert J. Kayden Associate Professor at The Rockefeller University and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, will deliver a seminar to mark her acceptance of the Lawrence C. Katz Lectureship for Innovative Research in Neuroscience award. Reception to follow. Dr. Ruta will present "Mechanisms of adaptive behavior, from receptors to circuits". ABSTRACT: Olfactory systems are continuously barraged with odors, varying widely in their structure, physicochemical properties, and concentration. Contending with such a complex chemical landscape poses a distinct challenge to the fundamental flexibility of the nervous system. Our lab has been using olfaction as a window into the mechanisms of flexible and adaptive behavior, leveraging the concise olfactory circuits of Drosophila to reveal how animals can detect, perceive, and navigate the vast chemical world. In recent work, we used cryo-electron microscopy to show how a single olfactory receptor can bind diverse odorants, shedding light on the flexible molecular recognition mechanisms essential to odor detection. In parallel, we have been exploring how chemical cues are encoded within brain circuits and flexibly endowed with meaning, through either individual experience or evolutionary selection. By applying a multidisciplinary perspective to study olfaction, from the structure of olfactory receptors to the behavioral algorithms of odor navigation, we aim to gain a mechanistic understanding of how behaviors can be flexibly modified over different timescales at the level of molecular, cellular, and circuit motifs.