I got a mysterious phone call," neurologist Beth Stevens says. "I was in my office working on a grant application, and they basically said 'are you somewhere where you can speak confidentially?'" She closed her office door, and opened a new chapter in her life. "I was speechless.'

Dr. Beth Stevens is a neuroscientist whose research on microglial cells is changing the way we think about neuron communication in the healthy brain, and asking new question about the origins of adult neurological diseases. She is also working to build bridges between disciplines, and between science and tech. 

Stevens is says her research makes her hopeful. "It offers the possibility that if we can understand how to disrupt this pathway, and protect the synapses, it could have broad implications for long term brain health."  

But part of that hope lies in grounding her research in the granite State. "We're in Boston," she says, "expertise is everywhere." Massachusetts, Stevens notes, offers tremendous collaborative opportunities both with other researchers and with the many biotech companies in the state as "we begin to translate the mechanisms we've identified into therapeutics." 

Collaboration is tremendously valuable to Stevens. "Part of science is communicating your ideas," she explains. Stevens keeps a white board full of ideas and questions in her lab, and she's looking forward to using her $625,000 MacArthur fellowship to move some of those ideas front and center: "they're really hard questions, there is not a lot known... [the grant] gives use the freedom and flexibility to be creative to be bold to go after those types of questions, not ten years from now, but now."

>>To hear more from neuro-biologist Dr. Beth Stevens, click on the audio above.