Ian Parker’s innovative and technically exquisite experiments have explored how calcium ions transmit signals within the cells of the nervous system. He has measured the timing, spatial distribution and volume of calcium release within a single cell, from brief and localized release to concerted ‘waves’.
Resting cells contain very little calcium, but signalling molecules open membrane channels that let in more calcium, with a wide range of rapid effects. Ian has developed ‘caged’ signalling compounds that can be activated with a flash of light, allowing him to capture images of the calcium influx with high-resolution fluorescence microscopy.
With roles in muscle contraction, neurotransmission and cell death, calcium signalling is fundamental to health and disease. In recognition of his contribution to understanding this process, Ian was elected a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science and received a prestigious MERIT Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.
Professor of Neurobiology and Behaviour, Department Of Neurobiology and Behaviour, University of California, Irvine
Interest and expertise
Anatomy, physiology and neurosciences
Physiology incl biophysics of cells (non-clinical)