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Department of Physiology and Biophysics

University of Colorado Department of Physiology and Biophysics

News and Events


 News Updates


 AR Martin Lectureship

​​The dates and speaker for the AR Martin Lectureship has been announced.  Dr. Martyn Goulding, Professor, Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory at The Salk Institute   The main lecture will be held in the Shore Family Forum of the Nighthorse Campbell Building on April 25th, 2016, at 4 pm.  ​​​​4

 Kurt Beam named Distinguished Professor by CU President Bruce Benson

In November, Department of Physiology and Biophysics Professor Kurt G. Beam, Ph.D., was one of only six CU system faculty members to be named Distinguished Professor by President Bruce Benson.  As the most prestigious honor for faculty at the university, this honor recognizes those who have demonstrated exemplary performance in research or creative work and have a record of teaching excellence and outstanding service to the profession, university and the community at large.  Dr. Beam’s nomination was supported by letters from more than a dozen professional colleagues from CU and from around the world.  The Distinguished Professor designation is just the latest professional recognition for Dr. Beam.  Foremost amongst his many distinctions, the National Academy of Science welcomed him as a member for his pioneering work in the molecular dissection of excitation-contraction coupling in striated muscle and in the use of genetically null tissues for heterologous expression of proteins in their native environment.  His ground-breaking research has revealed a unique type of cellular signaling in which ion channels belonging to separate membrane systems reciprocally control one another via conformational coupling.  Dr. Beam is scheduled to be formally recognized as Distinguished Professor by the Board of Regents in February 2015.​


 Abigail Person named Sloan Research Fellow, Feb. 20, 2013

A University of Colorado School of Medicine professor on Tuesday was named a Sloan Research Fellow for 2013 - a prestigious award that recognizes early-career scientists.​​


Abigail Person, PhD​​, an assistant professor in CU School of ​Medicin​e’s Department ​of Physiology and Biophysics, received one of the 126 Sloan​ Research Fellowships awarded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.


“The Sloan Research Fellows are the best of the best among young scientists,” Dr. Paul L. Joskow, President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, said in a release announcing the fellows. “If you want to know where the next big scientific breakthrough will come from, look to these extraordinary men and women. The Foundation is proud to support them during this pivotal stage of their careers.”


Sloan Research Fellows are nominated by fellow scientists and selected by an independent panel of senior scholars. Fellows receive $50,000 to be used to further their research.


Person’s research interest is in understanding how the brain generates precise movements. To do so, the brain keeps track of what it is doing using specialized neural circuits called ‘corollary discharge pathways’ that carry copies of motor commands sent to muscles to areas of the brain that process sensory input. An example of how motor output influences sensory processing is clear from our everyday experiences:  We know that identical sensory inputs are processed differently depending on whether or not we caused the sensory event ourselves. If you move your eyes left to right, the image on the retina shifts, but your brain does not interpret this as the world moving in front of it, even though the sensory information it receives is the same as if the world were moving.


Brain areas that control precise movement such as the cerebellum are hypothesized to use corollary discharge information to compute rapid motor command sequences. Very little is known about how these corollary discharge pathways are organized and process information in mammals. Person’s current focus is mapping the organization of a specific corollary discharge pathway into the cerebellum and, using physiological techniques, determining its functional role in modifying sensory processing.


This kind of internal monitoring of action is thought to be important in generating precise movements, which is the focus of Person’s research. It is also likely important in understanding various mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, where there is a breakdown in the ability to differentiate self-generated events from external stimuli to the point that one senses that external forces are controlling one’s thoughts and actions. Her studies will test directly the role of corollary discharge in generating precise movements and its role in sensory processing that may underlie certain types of delusions.


The Sloan Research Fellowships are awarded in eight scientific fields – chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, evolutionary and computational molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences, and physics. The 2013 Sloan Research Fellows are drawn from 61 colleges and universities across the United States and Canada.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​



 Kurt Beam elected to National Academy of Sciences, May 1, 2012

On May 1st 2012 Professor Kurt Beam​ of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics was elected by the National Academy of Sciences to join its membership of Fellows. This is a singular honor reserved for the most accomplished and influential living scientists in the United States, and Kurt joins only David Talmage and Charles Dinarello as UCD-AMC members of the Academy.

Kurt’s selection to the Academy recognizes his many important contributions to the understanding of skeletal muscle physiology. In particular, Kurt has intensively studied excitation-contraction coupling, the process in which electrical signals in skeletal muscle induced by the nervous system initiates muscle fiber contraction. Thus Kurt’s work has shown that a complex of muscle proteins work in concert to transduce voltage changes in the muscle cell membrane to a fast release of stored calcium necessary for contraction. From a historical point of view, Kurt’s work is especially noteworthy as one of the first examples of the now common multidisciplinary use of recombinant DNA mutagenesis, exogenous expression, and biophysical methods to analyze the function of macromolecular complexes. For more details, see Kurt’s webpage on this site​.​​​​​


 Bill Betz Retirement Symposium

​The Synaptic Transmission Symposium was held on July 20th to honor the scientific contributions of Bill Betz, PhD.  On July 21st a BBQ to celebrate his retirement after 43 years of service was held at his cabin in the Gore Range outside of Silverthorne Colorado.​​3

​News and Events 2016
February 17/18
John Bankston Ph.D.
Physiology/Cardiology Candidate Seminar
February 24/25
Elena Gallow MacFarlane Ph.D. 

Physiology/Cardiology Candidate Seminar
March 14/15 - Dan Minor Ph.D.
Invited Distinguished Speaker
April 25/26 - A.R. Martin Lectureship