Brain mapping, from molecules to networks

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PHOTO: COURTESY OF W. ALLENCATEGORY WINNER: CELL AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGYWilliam E. AllenWilliam E. Allen received his undergraduate degree from Brown University in 2012, M.Phil. in Computational Biology from the University of Cambridge in 2013, and Ph.D. in Neurosciences from Stanford University in 2019. At Stanford, he worked to develop new tools for the large-scale characterization of neural circuit structure and function, which he applied to understand the neural basis of thirst. After completing his Ph.D., William started as an independent Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University, where he is developing and applying new approaches to map mammalian brain function and dysfunction over an animal’s life span. www.sciencemag.org/content/370/6519/925.3Charting what the pioneering neuroanatomist Santiago Ramón y Cajal called the “impenetrable jungle” of the brain (1) presents one of biology’s greatest challenges. How do billions of neurons, wired through trillions of connections, work together to produce cognition and behavior?Like an orchestra, wherein many instruments played simultaneously produce a sound greater than the sum of its parts, thought and behavior emerge from communication between ensembles of molecularly distinct neurons distributed throughout vast neural circuits. Although we know much about the properties of individual genes, cells, and …

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