Graduate School of Medical Sciences
A partnership with the Sloan Kettering Institute

Timothy Ryan

Dr. Ryan Headshot
My lab explores the molecular underpinnings of nerve terminal function in both healthy and diseased states. We develop and deploy quantitative optical tools to study single synapse biology. 


Synapses are the main points of information transfer between brain cells and controlling the efficacy of this information flow is generally thought to be the basis of learning, memory, and cognition. My lab seeks to understand how nerve terminals, the presynaptic site where neurotransmitter is released, is controlled at the molecular level. A fascinating property of the brain is that it is very vulnerable metabolically. In recent years we have been unravelling the local rules metabolic rules of how ATP is generated at nerve terminals, how this impacts function and how this is impaired in a variety of disease states.  

Current Projects:

  • Bioenergetic control of synapses in healthy and diseased states.


Tim carried out his undergraduate training at McGill University in Montreal Canada where he majored in Physics. He joined the lab of Watt Webb as a graduate student in Physics at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY where he worked on a variety of problems deploying optical methods to study the biophysical properties of membrane proteins and cell signaling. He switched into cellular neuroscience for his postdoctoral work in the department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University, before launching his independent career in the department of Biochemistry at Weill Cornell Medicine.  


  • Alfred P. Sloan Fellow (1999)
  • McKnight Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Award (2000. 2010)
  • NINDS Javitz Neuroscience Investigator Award (2016)
  • HHMI Janelia Research Campus Scholar (2018-present)
  • Keynote Speaker International Brain Energy Metabolism meeting (2022)
  • Keynote Speaker Korean Society for Brain and Neural Sciences meeting (2023) 

Current Areas of Focus

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Weill Cornell Medicine Graduate School of Medical Sciences 1300 York Ave. Box 65 New York, NY 10065 Phone: (212) 746-6565 Fax: (212) 746-8906