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09-03_vactor_1“How Nerve Cells Find Their Destination,” was Dr. Van Vactor’s subject when he spoke to Milton science students in Classes II and III on Wednesday. According to Dr. Van Vactor, “The cues that guide neuronal processes to their ultimate sites of synaptic contact are crucial for establishing the complex architecture of the nervous system, yet are one of the oldest, most challenging issues in developmental neurobiology.” Dr. Van Vactor’s laboratory at Harvard Medical School, the Van Vactor Lab, is interested in finding the key molecules that control axon guidance and target recognition and, ultimately, in determining how they act in concert to specify the direction of axonal outgrowth.

A member of the Harvard Medical School faculty, David Van Vactor was appointed Assistant Professor in Cell Biology in 1995, after completing his postdoctoral research at University of California, Berkeley. He received his undergraduate degree in Behavioral Biology from The Johns Hopkins University in 1985 and earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1991.