Ion channel structure & function

Oliver's scientific work in graduate school and as a postdoc addressed the underpinnings of nerve impulses, which are traveling waves of electric charge. In the oily envelope surrounding every gelatinous nerve fiber, microscopic portholes alternately open and close to allow ions to enter then exit at point that travels along the fiber, in effect conveying charge. Oliver helped solve the more than fifty year-old mystery of how this works. His 1996 paper, co-authored with Peter Larsson, made the news in Science magazine and helped make for a "wildly exciting period" in the study of these portholes called "ion channels." Ehud Isacoff headed the highly collaborative UC Berkeley lab where Oliver did this work.