John Spudich (Presidential Lecture), University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, USA
Professor John Spudich holds the Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair in Chemistry and is Director of the Center for Membrane Biology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. A pioneer in the field of photosensory receptors, he discovered the first microbial rhodopsin with a sensory function (phototaxis signaling), and demonstrated widespread presence of sensory rhodopsins in microorganisms and diversity of their signaling mechanisms. Photosensory receptors that function as light-gated channels, cation-conducting channelrhodopsins (CCRs) and, more recently, anion-conducting channelrhodopsins (ACRs), have become highly noteworthy because of their effective use as genetically-targeted tools for photocontrol of neuron firing (optogenetics). Optogenetics has transformed research on neural circuitry, and is showing promise for gene therapy for neurological diseases, for example for vision restoration. Dr. Spudich has published over 200 research articles and commentaries and two books on photosensory biology. He is a past president of the American Society for Photobiology and is currently president of the International Union of Photobiology. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Microbiology.