MCB Assistant Professor of Neurobiology Stephen Brohawn was chosen to receive a 2017 McKnight Scholar Award, for his resarch on "Mechanisms of biological force sensation." The McNight Scholar is one of the most prestigious honors that a young early-career neurobiologist can receive.
Stephen Brohawn, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Neurobiology, Helen Willis Neuroscience Institute/University of California, Berkeley
Mechanisms of biological force sensation
Dr. Brohawn studies life's electrical system from a molecular and biophysical perspective, with a focus on finding the answer to the question "How do we feel?" The nervous system's capacity to sense mechanical force is one of the foundations of hearing and balance, but science hasn't yet revealed the protein machinery that converts mechanical forces into electrical signals. Using a range of approaches from X-ray crystallography to cryo-electron microscopy, Brohawn's lab takes a "bottom up" approach to the question, capturing atomic resolution snapshots of the membrane proteins when at rest and under force. Gaining an understanding of how hearing and balance work on a detailed molecular level may someday form the basis for new therapies to improve the lives of individuals who've experienced auditory or vestibular loss of function.
Photo Credit: Mark Hanson of Mark Joseph Studios