SAN DIEGO — The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) has awarded the Ralph W. Gerard Prize in Neuroscience to Carol A. Barnes, PhD, of the University of Arizona. The $25,000 prize was awarded during Neuroscience 2013, SfN’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health. 

The prize, which is the highest recognition conferred by SfN, honors an outstanding scientist who has made significant contributions to neuroscience throughout his or her career. The Gerard Prize was established in the name of Ralph W. Gerard, MD, PhD, who was instrumental in establishing SfN and served as Honorary President from 1970 until his death in 1974.

"Dr. Barnes is a pioneer in the field of systems neuroscience whose work has made fundamental contributions to understanding the adaptive nature of the aging brain," said Larry Swanson, PhD, president of SfN. "Additionally, her commitment to teaching undergraduate and graduate students has been instrumental in equipping the next generation of scientists with the skills they will need to succeed in this field.”

Barnes was among the first neuroscientists to investigate how normal aging affects the brain circuitry underlying cognitive processes such as memory. Driven by the philosophy that scientists cannot fully understand age-associated brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease until they understand normal brain aging, Barnes has employed a variety of scientific techniques to uncover the changes that take place in the aging brain. Her work has helped to define neurobiological norms of successful brain aging across mammalian species.

Barnes earned her PhD at Carleton University, and she completed postdoctoral fellowships at Dalhousie University, the University of Olso, and University College London. She is currently a professor of psychology and neurology at the University of Arizona, where she holds the Evelyn F. McKnight Endowed Chair for Learning and Memory in Aging.

The Society for Neuroscience is an organization of nearly 42,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.