Society for Neuroscience Confers Rodolfo Llinás the Ralph W. Gerard Prize in Neuroscience
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rodolfo Llinás, MD, PhD, Thomas and Suzanne Murphy Professor of Neuroscience and chairman emeritus of physiology and neuroscience at the New York University School of Medicine, will receive this year’s Ralph W. Gerard Prize in Neuroscience. The award will be presented at Neuroscience 2018 in San Diego, SfN’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
The Ralph W. Gerard Prize in Neuroscience is a $25,000 prize that honors an outstanding scientist who has made significant contributions to neuroscience throughout his or her career. Ralph W. Gerard, for whom the award is named, was instrumental in establishing the Society for Neuroscience and served as its honorary president from 1970 to 1974.
“SfN is pleased to present this award to Dr. Llinás, who has achieved exceptional scholarly excellence with an impressive impact on neuroscience over a long and highly distinguished career. His research has significantly advanced our knowledge of the membrane biophysics of neurons,” SfN President Richard Huganir said.
Llinás’ work in neurophysiology has bridged neuron membrane channels and biophysics, leading to the understanding that neurons are not passive intake systems but actively modify input and output transformations in complex ways. His contributions include discovering dendritic calcium spikes, dendritic inhibition, electrotonic coupling, and subthreshold oscillations in mammalian neurons, and demonstrating presynaptic calcium current at the squid giant synapse. He also showed how the active neuron concept can affect interpretation of brain rhythms in the intact brain as well as its implications in neurological and psychiatric conditions.
“The active neuron concept brought about a fundamental change in our thinking regarding the abilities of single neurons,” said György Buzsáki, Biggs Professor of Neuroscience, Physiology and Neurology at the New York University Neuroscience Institute. “Today, the neuron is considered as a dynamic piece of machinery with enormous computational power, a knowledge that is prominently highlighted in any contemporary volume on neuroscience.”
Llinás additionally extrapolated related molecular biophysical discoveries related to system functions and complex behaviors such as sleep cycles and cerebellar rhythmicity and implicated their function roles in neurological and psychiatric conditions. Much of this pioneering work was done in humans using magnetoencephalography, a noninvasive tool that measures milliseconds of brain activity at a high time temporal resolution.
The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is an organization of nearly 36,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and the nervous system.