William R. and Linda R. Young Professor of Neuroscience
School of Science
Elly Nedivi explores the brain’s ability to respond to its environment and learn new things, focusing on remodeling the synapses that connect nerve cells into circuits. “Understanding the basis for this plasticity is highly relevant to our ability to repair or ameliorate brain damage,” explains Nedivi, the William R. and Linda R. Young Professor of Neuroscience, who is also affiliated with the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory.
To watch plasticity happen, Nedivi works with Peter So, MIT professor of mechanical and biological engineering, to create new microscopy tools. She says their longtime collaboration is a benefit of working at MIT. “Scientists working so closely with such talented and creative engineers is quite unique to MIT. For me, it has enriched my research in many ways, making experiments that might seem impossible, possible,” she says.
The discretionary funding her lab has received over the years is critically important to her research, Nedivi says, because it can drive forward projects that are not ripe for funding through traditional means. “The first microscope Peter built in my lab was funded this way.”
As important as brain research is, however, Nedivi cites education as MIT’s greatest contribution. Education is “the strongest force for good in the world,” she says. “That’s what we do at MIT—and we do it really well.”