Rae Silver headshot


On September 24, 2021, Rae Silver, Barnard’s Helene L. and Mark N. Kaplan Professor of Natural & Physical Sciences, along with Alana Taub ’18, Yifan Yao, and Joseph LeSauter, published research in the academic journal Nature Communications – one of the world's most prestigious journals.

In this article, titled “Identification of the suprachiasmatic nucleus venous portal system in the mammalian brain,” the team describe a new "highway" in the mammalian brain, that links the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus, locus of the brain's daily clock, to a structure containing leaky blood vessels- called the vascular organ of the lamina terminalis. The newly discovered specialized "portal" blood vessels enable very small concentrations of secretions from clock neurons to reach specialized targets to exert their effects. This is a revelation about how our brain clock sends out its daily signals.  Of historic interest regarding the progression of science: The first known vascular portal pathway, controlling the pituitary gland, was identified in 1933. Almost nine decades later, Silver’s groundbreaking research identifies a second portal communication pathway. Previously we did not know this structure and signaling pathway exists in the brain, and its discovery opens new ways to understand how information travels in the brain.