Marie Burns, associate professor in the UC Davis Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Science and a member of the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience, is the 2009 recipient of the Cogan Award. The award, bestowed by the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, recognizes a researcher 40 years or younger who has made important contributions to research in ophthalmology or visual science that are directly related to disorders of the human eye or visual system, and who shows substantial promise for future research.
Burns will receive the award at the association's annual meeting from May 3-7 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
At the meeting, Burns also will deliver a lecture, titled "Deactivation Mechanisms of Rod Phototransduction," on Tuesday, May 5, at 6:45 p.m. A reception to honor Burns and to celebrate the recent creation of the UC Davis Center for Visual Sciences, which Burns directs, will be held Monday evening, also in Fort Lauderdale.
Burns was selected for the award in recognition of her contributions in phototransduction, specifically to the understanding the molecular steps that turn off the light response in rod photoreceptors, the cells that initiate vision in dim light. Defects on phototransduction can produce blindness and retinal degenerative diseases. Although Burns' lab specializes in understanding the biochemical kinetics of signaling, she has had numerous colleagues and collaborators with whom she shares the Cogan Award.
"Like many fields, our work is intricately and inextricably linked to those of others," Burns said. "We have been very fortunate to have exceptional colleagues with complementary expertise, who not only propel the science but make doing the science even more rewarding and fun."
Burns is continuing her investigation into signal deactivation kinetics in photoreceptors and, in future studies, will seek to understand the mechanisms by which signaling in other types of neurons yields signals of varying amplitudes and durations. She has been on the faculty at UC Davis since 2001.