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FSU Professor a Bright Spot on Neuroscience Horizon

Courtesy of Florida State University

Prof. Debra Ann Fadool
(Photo credit: Ryals Lee/FSU Photo Lab)

Fighting disease may one day be easier by altering the flow of electrical signals through the brain. That's where Debra Ann Fadool comes in.

The Florida State University biology professor has built her name in the world of neuroscience by studying how external senses, such as smell, are processed into the electrical signals that make up the language of the brain. By manipulating the flow of electrical signals through the brain, known in scientific parlance as "neuromodulation of ion channels," scientists may one day be able to better treat diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

Fadool was recently honored as an up-and-coming star in neuroscience research with the first Merck Young Investigator Award from Women in Neuroscience. The award recognizes the accomplishments of researchers who are not yet tenured professors at their institutions.

Fadool focuses on how the shape of ion channels changes when the brain is affected by disease and other outside forces.

"If the shape of the ion channel changes, then it conducts electrical signals differently and the thought patterns and information it relays to the brain is altered," she said.

Women in Neuroscience is a subset of the Society for Neuroscience, an international organization of more than 30,000 neuroscience researchers. Fadool will receive the award at a ceremony next month in New Orleans.

She said the award will help her continue to recruit motivated graduate and postdoctoral students to FSU, and it gives the neuroscience program recognition when seeking research grants.