15 March 2005

To coincide with International Brain Awareness Week, The University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience and Queensland Brain Institute will host the inaugural Toshiya Yamada Memorial Lecture on Wednesday, March 16.

The lecture, entitled Wiring the brain – how connections form during development, will be presented by Associate Professor Linda Richards from the University of Maryland, USA, at the IMB Auditorium at 2pm.

Named after Dr Toshiya Yamada, an insightful and impeccable IMB researcher whose scientific discoveries supplied much of the basis for modern neurobiology, the lecture will feature Dr Richards discussing how the proper wiring of the nervous system is vital to normal function.

Dr Toshiya Yamada discovered the molecules that are essential for regulating the correct wiring of the spinal cord and parts of the brain.

Following on from this Dr Richards' group analysed the development of connections in the brain by focusing on its largest fibre tract, the corpus callosum, which joins the two brain hemispheres.

In over 50 different human syndromes the corpus callosum fails to form, resulting in a spectrum of neurological disorders that includes mental retardation and sensory-motor deficits.

A number of other disorders such as schizophrenia and autism are also associated with malformations in the corpus callosum.

Dr Yamada passed away in 2001 and a memorial garden has been established at the IMB in his honour.

Dr Yamada joined the UQ Centre for Molecular & Cellular Biology (now known as the IMB) in 1994 following a successful post-doctoral research position at Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Columbia University in New York.

Dr Yamada was instrumental in the resurgence of Australia as a leader in the field of developmental neurobiology and many of his conclusions have been verified and become textbook entries, a legacy few scientists can claim.

The Toshiya Yamada Memorial Lecture is a joint initiative by the IMB and The Queensland Brain Institute to highlight the work of leading neuroscience researchers and will be held at the IMB Auditorium at 2pm, Wednesday March 16.

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