1988: Baylor


Dr. Denis Baylor of Stanford University School of Medicine was chosen to receive the 1988 Golden Brain Award from the Minerva Foundation.

Baylor, a professor of neurobiology, was honored for his research explaining the molecular process that enables people to see. Specifically, he isolated how individual cells in the retina of the eye convert light into electrochemical signals that the brain uses to create visual images.

Baylor was the fourth recipient of the award, given annually to honor extraordinary research on vision and the brain. The award "recognizes deserving scientists doing basic research of the caliber that will be the basis for future Nobel prizes," said Elwin Marg, who was vice president and executive officer of the Berkeley-based foundation.

While Baylor focused on learning how vision works, his findings may increase understanding of retinitis pigmentosa, a degeneration of the retina that often leads to blindness. As many as 100,000 people in the United States are afflicted with the disease.

Baylor has been a member of Stanford's faculty since 1974. He received the Paul Kayser International Award of Merit in Retina Research at the International Congress of Eye Research in September. His other honors include the Sinsheimer Foundation Award for Medical Research, the Mathilde Solowey Award in the Neurosciences, the Rank Prize in Optoelectronics, and the Proctor Medal from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

Baylor graduated Cum Laude from Yale Medical School in 1965, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship there in 1968. He held positions with the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke, the United States Public Health Service, and the faculty at University of Colorado Medical School prior to joining Stanford.