Marc Sommer, associate professor, Dept. of Biomedical Engineering

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dr. Marc Sommer is an associate professor in biomedical engineering and a member of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. He arrived at Duke this year, after five years on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh where he was an Associate Professor in the Department of Neuroscience and a member of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition. Prior to that, he was a post-doctoral researcher at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Sommer received his PhD in Systems Neuroscience from MIT in 1995, after earning Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Electrical Engineering, and a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences, from Stanford University in 1990. The focus of Dr. Sommer’s research is studying the functions of circuits within the primate brain. Members of his laboratory record from networks of neurons across widespread brain areas in behaving monkeys. To establish the functions of the networks, they perturb them at specific locations and assess both the circuit-level and behavior-level consequences. Dr. Sommer’s specific interest is in the visual and eye movement systems of the brain. A major goal of his current and future work is to translate the results into clinical and engineering applications. His circuit analysis of the brain has implications for targeting deep-brain stimulation for the treatment of mental and motor disorders, and his findings on the coordination between natural visual and oculomotor circuits are being applied to the design of more biologically-based computer vision systems.