Michael Crair Is the Inaugural William Ziegler III Associate Professor

Michael C. Crair, the inaugural William Ziegler III Associate Professor of Vision Research, studies the development, structure and function of the visual system.

He is exploring how genes and the environment interact to guide the development of neuronal maps. He uses a broad range of experimental techniques, including in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology and optical imaging, to examine neural circuit development from many perspectives and to investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms for sensory map development. He and his team focus on how the eye gets wired to the brain during development. Research from his lab will help advance understanding of how a combination of genetic instruction and sensory experience can lead to developmental disorders related to vision.

Crair came to Yale in 2007 as director of the Vision Core Program and associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology and the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science. He was named the director of graduate studies for the Neurobiology Graduate Program in 2008.

From 1998 to 2006, Crair taught at Baylor College of Medicine, where he was also the co-director of the Medical Scientist (M.D./Ph.D.) Training Program.

A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, where he earned his A.B., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, Crair was a postdoctoral researcher at Kyoto University and Kyoto Pre­fectural Medical School in Japan and later at the University of California at San Francisco.

He has been awarded numerous honors for his work, including the Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Foundation Fellowship Award in the Neurosciences, the Baylor College of Medicine’s MRRC New Program Development Award and its Marc Dresden Excellence in Graduate Education Award, and a NARSAD-Sidney R. Baer Jr. Foundation Young Investigator Award. He has been named an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellow, a John Merck Fund Scholar and the March of Dimes Foundation’s Basil O’Connor Fellow.

The William Ziegler III Professorship in Vision Research at the School of Medicine was created by the family of William Ziegler III, a long-time member of the Yale Eye Center Advisory Board and supporter of vision research. While he was not a scientist, Ziegler recognized the importance of biomedical research in addressing the diseases and conditions affecting humankind in general and vision in particular. Among his many endeavors, he chaired the E. Matilda Ziegler Foundation for the Blind Inc. He was the chair and chief executive officer of American Maize-Products Company and later of Swisher International Inc.

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