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Mark Ellisman

Mark Ellisman
Mark Ellisman is a Distinguished Professor of Neurosciences and Bioengineering at UC San Diego (UCSD). He directs the National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research for NIH as well as the Center for Research in Biological Systems for UCSD. His early interests were in neurophysiology and behavior, but he shifted to molecular cell biology to work on ion channels and the properties of excitable membranes in the 1970’s, characterizing and localizing key molecules like the Na and K channels and the ryanodine receptors in the 1980’s. He pioneered the development of molecular microscopy methods when it became apparent that 3D light and electron microscopy would provide insight into the molecular architecture at important sites in the nervous system like synapses and where nerve impulses are regenerated along myelinated axons, at nodes of Ranvier. His early investigations demonstrated a role for myelinating glia in modulation of nerve impulse propagation and more recently his group established that each astrocyte in brain grey matter occupies a “territory” or tiles to form a unique domain - at the same time showing that these glia are much larger in size than previously thought. Current research activities include significant efforts in instrument and technique development for multiscale and multimodal imaging – with pioneering work in technology development related to molecular probes, microscopy, imaging instrument design, computer science and computational biology. Using these methods he and his collaborators have made important contributions recently advancing our understanding of the molecular and cellular processes associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.