Michael Stryker studied at Deep Springs College and the University of Michigan, where he earned a B.A. in philosophy with a minor in mathematics and worked in the laboratory of James Olds. He earned his Ph.D. in Peter Schiller’s laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1975, followed by postdoctoral research with David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel at the Harvard Medical School. He joined the Department of Physiology and nascent neuroscience program at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), as an assistant professor in 1978, where he has remained, except for sabbaticals at Oxford and as the Galileo Professor of Science at Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa and served as department chair for more than 12 years. He has also served as co-director of the UCSF graduate program in neuroscience and as director of the Herbert W. Boyer Program in Biological Science overseeing all the UCSF basic science graduate programs. He holds the W.F. Ganong Chair of Physiology at UCSF and has been honored by the W. Alden Spencer Prize from Columbia and the Jay Pepose ’75 Award in Vision Sciences from Brandeis, and by election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.
His laboratory’s research focuses the role of neural activity in the development and plasticity of precise connections within the central nervous system. Most of his work has been on the visual system; in recent years, on the visual cortex of the mouse. Current experimental work seeks to understand the cellular and neural circuit mechanisms of activity-dependent cortical plasticity, the interactions between neural activity and molecular cues in the formation of cortical maps, and the difference between the limited plasticity in the adult brain and the much greater plasticity during critical periods in early life. His experiments take advantage of transgenic mice and optical as well as electrical approaches for recording from and labeling and perturbing connections of specific cells.