Brandeis Alumni, Family and Friends

John Dowling, Doris Tsao to Receive John Lisman ’66 Award for Vision Sciences

October 15, 2021

Please note: The John Lisman ’66 Memorial Lectures in Vision Science, originally scheduled for Oct. 25 and Oct. 26, have both been rescheduled to November 15. Doris Tsao will speak at 12:00 p.m. ET in Abelson 131 and John Dowling will speak the same day at 4 p.m. ET in Gerstenzang 123. 

Two prominent neuroscientists will deliver the John Lisman ’66 Memorial Lectures in Vision Science at Brandeis University and will receive the award given in conjunction with the lectures.

John Dowling, left, and Doris Tsao, right
John Dowling, Ph.D. (left) researches the functional organization of the retina. Doris Tsao, Ph.D. (right) studies how visual objects are represented in the brain and how this guides behavior.

Doris Tsao, Ph.D., a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a professor at the California Institute of Technology and University of California, Berkeley, will lecture on “The Macaque Face Patch System: A Neural Rosetta Stone."

Tsao received her Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard in 2002, under the guidance of Margaret Livingstone, Ph.D. The central problem she seeks to understand is how visual objects are represented in the brain, and how these representations are used to guide behavior. She is widely recognized for pioneering the use of fMRI to target electrodes for studying visual processing in monkeys, and in particular for the discovery of the macaque face patch system, a network of six regions in the temporal lobe dedicated to face processing. She has received multiple honors including the Sofia Kovalevskaya Award, the NIH Pioneer Award, and a MacArthur Fellowship. She was elected to the National Academy of Science in 2020.

John Dowling, Ph.D., the Gordon and Llura Gund Research Professor of Neurosciences at Harvard University, will lecture on “Twists and Turns: Vitamin A, Vision and Memory.”

Dowling received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. His research interests have focused on the vertebrate retina as a model piece of the brain. He and his collaborators have long been interested in the functional organization of the retina, studying its synaptic organization, the electrical responses of the retinal neurons, and the mechanisms underlying neurotransmission and neuromodulation in the retina. Throughout his career he has received numerous awards and accolades including the Friedenwald Medal from the Association of Research in Ophthalmology and Vision, the National Eye Institute’s MERIT award, the Helen Keller Prize for Vision Research, and the Llura Ligget Gund Award for Lifetime Achievement and Recognition of Contribution to the Foundation Fighting Blindness, among others.

Honoring a Brandeis Mentor 

Formerly called the Jay Pepose ’75 Award in Vision Sciences, the name was changed in 2017 to memorialize John Lisman ’66, who earned his undergraduate degree in physics from Brandeis. He went on to earn a doctorate in physiology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University under Nobel Laureate George Wald, Ph.D. He returned to Brandeis in 1974 as an assistant professor and then a full professor in 1987. John contributed an immense amount to the sciences at his alma mater, in the classroom, and in the lab. He was an integral force behind the Pepose Award, from his work in selecting the recipients to serving as the host of the lecture and dinner each year.

The award continues to be funded by an endowment established in 2009 through a gift from Jay Pepose ’75, M.A.’75, P’08, P’17, and his wife, Susan K. Feigenbaum ’74, P’08, P’17, through the Lifelong Vision Foundation. The endowment also supports graduate research fellowships in vision science.

Jay 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 founded and serves as board president of the Lifelong Vision Foundation, whose mission is to preserve lifelong vision for people in the St. Louis community, nationally, and internationally through research, community programs, and education programs. He was part of the inaugural class of fellows of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. While a student at Brandeis, he worked closely with John Lisman, who began his career at the University when Jay was an undergraduate. Jay was the first student to join John’s research group on campus. John was an influential mentor to him and they remained lifelong friends. Upon John’s passing in 2017, Jay and Susan changed the name of the vision science award to honor his memory.

Do you have a Brandeis mentor story to share? Take a moment to recognize your mentor by submitting your story

John Lisman ’66 Memorial Lectures in Vision Science

November 15, 2021
The Macaque Face Patch System: A Neural Rosetta Stone
12 PM ET
Abelson 131
November 15, 2021
Twists and Turns: Vitamin A, Vision and Memory
Gerstenzang 123