Carnegie Mellon University neuroscientist Aryn Gittis has been named a recipient of the Janett Rosenberg Trubatch Career Development Award from the Society for Neuroscience. She will accept the award at the Society for Neuroscience's annual meeting held in San Diego, Nov. 3-7.
The award, supported by the Trubatch family, recognizes originality and creativity in research and promotes success for early career scientists.
Gittis' work focuses on teasing apart the complex neural circuitry of the basal ganglia, an area of the brain that plays a role in movement, learning, motivation and reward. Her work uses new technologies, including optogenetics, to determine how changes and breakdowns in these circuits result in movement disorders like Parkinson's disease.
In her recent research, Gittis discovered a class of neurons that, when targeted and stimulated using optogenetics, restored movement in a mouse model for Parkinson's disease. The findings could lead to novel therapeutic targets for Parkinson's, including deep brain stimulation.
Gittis is continuing this work through research funded by the National Institutes of Health and the federal BRAIN initiative.
An associate professor of biological sciences in CMU's Mellon College of Science and a member of the joint CMU/University of Pittsburgh Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, Gittis joined the CMU faculty in 2012. She completed her postdoctoral research at the Gladstone Institute for Neurological Disease in San Francisco, earned her doctoral degree in neurosciences from the University of California, San Diego, and her bachelor's degree in neuroscience from Brandeis University.
Gittis has received a number of honors for her research. She received a NARSAD Young Investigator grant in 2013 and CMU's Eberly Family Career Development Professorship in 2016. She was a finalist for the Eppendorf & Science Prize for Neurobiology in 2012 and a finalist for the Science and PINS Prize for Neuromodulation in 2018.