Schiller selected to receive Vision Sciences award

Research has contributed to the understanding of visual perception

Dr. Peter Schiller

Peter Schiller, whose laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has conducted pioneering vision research for nearly four decades, has been selected to receive the Jay Pepose ’75 Award in Vision Sciences from Brandeis University.

The Pepose Award is funded by a $1 million endowment established in 2009 through a gift from Brandeis graduates Jay Pepose ’75, MA ’75 and Susan K. Feigenbaum ’74, his wife. The endowment also supports graduate research fellowships in vision science.

Schiller, the Dorothy W. Poitras Professor in Medical Engineering and Medical Physics in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, will receive the award and deliver a public lecture at 4 p.m. on March 14 in Gerstenzang 121. He will discuss “Parallel Information Processing Channels Created in the Retina.”

Through the study of visual and oculomotor systems of primates, Schiller’s lab has contributed to the understanding of how visual perception is processed by the brain and how visually guided eye movements are generated. Through the years, the lab’s results have been reported in more than 150 publications and involved more than 40 investigators. Schiller was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2007.

“Dr. Schiller was one of the first researchers to apply pharmacologic methods to study the ‘on’ and ‘off’ components of the visual system at both a functional and behavioral level,” Pepose said. “This more refined understanding of visual processing may have important implications in the future design of visual prostheses for the blind that can effectively process both light incremental as well as decremental information. It is wonderful to have a scientist of this stature deliver the lecture and receive the award.”
Schiller’s talk at Brandeis will delve into the visual system as parallel pathways, one responding to the onset of illumination, the other responding to the offset. Schiller’s seminal work showed how perception is altered when only one of these pathways is operational.

Schiller will be introduced by John Maunsell, the Alice and Rodman W. Moorhead III Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard University.

The inaugural winners of the Pepose Award were Jay and Maureen Neitz, University of Washington researchers whose work may lead to the use of gene therapy to treat vision disorders.

Pepose is the founder and medical director of the Pepose Vision Institute in St. Louis and a professor of clinical ophthalmology at Washington University. He was part of the inaugural class of Fellows inducted into the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology in 2009. While a student at Brandeis, he worked closely with John Lisman, the Zalman Abraham Kekst Chair in Neuroscience and Professor of Biology.

Categories: Research, Science and Technology

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage