Frontiers in Synaptic Functions

First Memorial Conference for Itzchak Parnas

Event date: January 11 - January 14, 2014

    Idan Segev (The Hebrew University)
    Micha Spira (The Hebrew University)


    In this conference, an international team of leading scientists from Europe, the USA and Israel will explore recent exciting developments in synaptic function at the molecular, cellular and neuronal-network levels.

    The first part of the conference will be devoted to explore the short and long term cellular and molecular processes that are altered when synapses undergo activity-dependent modification and some pathological processes; the key note speaker for this part is Erwin Neher  (1991 Nobel Laureate) who will be joined by leaders in the field,: E. Isacoff, R. Zuker, H. Lester, D. Atlas, , D. Gitler, and N.  Ziv.

    We will then proceed to discuss recent breakthroughs in understanding signal transduction at the synapse, with a particular focus on G-Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs). In 2012 Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "groundbreaking discoveries that reveal the inner workings of this important family receptors”. Recently it has been shown that GPCR’s are voltage dependent.  Depolarization induces charge movement that in turn controls agonist binding to the receptors, which is the first step in GPCR activation.

    These findings add an entirely new physiological dimension for this large protein family. In fact, these findings completely change our understanding of GPCR-mediated signal transduction. When governed by the depolarization induced charge movement, rather than by second messengers, the GPCR can act with extreme swiftness, in the millisecond range, enabling them to control fast biological processes, such as neurotransmitter release.

    This part of the meeting will be led by Brian Koblika (2012 Nobel Laureate) who will be joined by leaders in the field: F. Bezanilla, H. Hamm, M. Mahaut-Smith, H. Parnas, and Y. Ben Chaim.

    The third part of the meeting will be devoted to the synapse in the context of network activity. For example, how does a particular network connectivity affects network dynamics? What is the impact of synaptic properties (inhibitory and excitatory and their corresponding strength) as well as synaptic dynamics (depression/facilitation) on the computations performed by single neuron and the whole network? These and other questions will summarize our present state of understanding of synapses – from mechanism to function.

    The keynote speaker for this part is Bert Sakmann (1991 Nobel Laureate) who will be joined by leaders in the field:  A. Konnerth, H. Sompolinsky, U. Ashery, I. Slutsky, I. Segev and Y. Yarom.

    A close colleague and friend of Itzick Parnas, John Nicholls will provide a professional and collegial overview.

    The conference will also include a cultural aspect: visits to historical sites in Jerusalem and experiencing the local culinary scene.


    We are looking very much forward to a highly exciting event.

    Micha Spira and Idan Segev