Science with a Touch of Art: A Conversation with David Ginty

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David GintyIf you think about it, the surface of the human body, the skin, is actually one huge sheet of tactile receptors. The dozens of types of receptors that innervate the skin help us connect with our surroundings. But the properties of these neurons – how they are organized in the skin, where the project into the spinal cord and brainstem, and how this organization gives rise to the sense of touch – are actually poorly understood! I spoke with David Ginty, Ph.D., who is Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, to find out about the newest ways his lab is studying sensory biology.

Beyond the science, we also chatted about life as a graduate student and post-doc, and David offers key pieces of advice for young scientists today. Find out what they are, as well as how strikingly similar scientists and artists really are!

Be sure to catch his Special Lecture on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 11:30am – 12:40pm in WCC Hall D at #SfN14! His talk is titled “The Sensory Neurons of Touch.”

To read the full transcript of our conversation, download this PDF: A Conversation with David Ginty.


What we asked Dr. David Ginty:

Kate Fehlhaber (KF): What kinds of questions are you trying to answer [in your lab]?

[1:03] KF: What kinds of techniques do you use in your lab to study these sensory neurons?

[3:08] KF: Does your research play any role in understanding neurodegenerative disorders or spinal cord injury and repair?

[5:38] KF: What are you going to speak about [at SfN]?

[6:29] KF: What was your professional development like?

[7:24] KF: Did you always want to be a scientist?

[12:22] KF: The creative component is key to becoming a successful scientist, but how much do you think is luck and hard work involved?

[15:45] KF: If you had to give one piece of advice to a young scientist today, what would it be?

[17:01] KF: How were you in grad school? Were you in the lab all the time doing experiments, or did you got the beach?

[19:52] KF: Looking back at all the people you’ve met and all the people you know now, is there a particular neuroscientist that you admire today?

[21:52] KF: If you weren’t a neuroscientist, what would you be?

[23:05] KF: Lightening round!


Image by Jooyeun Lee.

Kate Fehlhaber

Kate graduated from Scripps College in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Neuroscience, completing the cellular and molecular track with honors. As an undergraduate, she studied long-term plasticity in models of Parkinson’s disease in a neurobiology lab at University of California, Los Angeles. She continued this research as lab manager before entering the University of Southern California Neuroscience graduate program in 2011 and then transferring to UCLA in 2013. She completed her PhD in 2017, where her research focused on understanding the communication between neurons in the eye. Kate founded Knowing Neurons in 2011, and her passion for creative science communication has continued to grow.