Society for Neuroscience Announces Science Achievement Awards
Awards recognize contributions to the advancement of women, career achievement, early promise
CHICAGO — The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) announced the winners of the science achievement awards during Neuroscience 2009, SfN’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news on brain science and health.
“The science achievement awards give SfN members an opportunity to recognize the efforts of their colleagues who have demonstrated an unfailing commitment to this field, including the advancement of women in all stages of their careers,” said Thomas J. Carew, PhD, president of SfN.
Inaugural Bernice Grafstein Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Mentoring: Victoria Luine, PhD
This newly established prize, which will be awarded for the first time at Neuroscience 2009, includes complimentary registration and transportation to SfN’s annual meeting along with a $2,000 monetary award. Individuals are recognized for displaying a significant dedication to promoting women’s advancement in neuroscience, specifically in mentoring women to facilitate their entry and retention in the field. This award is sponsored by Bernice Grafstein, who was the first woman president of SfN.
Victoria Luine is Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Hunter College of the City University of New York. She actively promotes and encourages women within the field of neuroscience and is an enthusiastic mentor to her female students and colleagues. She is the Project Director and Principal Investigator for the Hunter College MBRS-RISE and MBRS-SCORE programs, which are funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. These programs are instrumental in increasing the number of minorities in science along with the enhancing research at minority serving institutions.
Luine earned her PhD from the University at Buffalo, School of Medicine in 1971 and is currently investigating how hormones alter cognition and sexual behavior. Her research has important implications for age-related memory loss and dementia.
Career Development Award: Christopher Pittenger, MD, PhD, and Raphael Pinaud, PhD
Supported by Merck & Company, Inc., this award, which includes complimentary SfN annual meeting registration and a monetary prize of $2,000, recognizes promise and achievement in the neuroscience field for early career professionals.
As director of the Yale University Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Research clinic, Pittenger’s research focuses on the neurological basis of flexible behaviors, such as those needed in unpredictable circumstances, and inflexible behaviors, such as habits, particularly in relation to OCD. His work at the clinic is helping to develop new biological insights and novel treatments for individuals with OCD. Pittenger’s current research is contributing to the development of better animal models that can provide insight into the dysfunction that accompanies disorders such as OCD and Tourette’s syndrome.
Pinaud is investigating auditory stimulation and brain response to uncover how these processes function in the natural communication signals of songbirds and possibly other vocal learners, such as humans. His work is also contributing to novel studies that explore the role of estrogen in brain physiology and auditory experience in vertebrates.
Patricia Goldman-Rakic Hall of Honor: Ann Kelley, PhD
The Hall of Honor was established in 2001 and following the death of renowned neuroscientist Patricia Goldman-Rakic in 2003, was renamed in her honor. This posthumous award recognizes individuals who served the profession through exceptional achievements in neuroscience as evidenced by publications, inventions, awards, recognition at national and international levels in the field, and who exhibited an outstanding dedication to facilitating the advancement of women in neuroscience.
Kelley’s 30-plus years in the field were defined by her analysis of the biological basis of reward behaviors. She was instrumental in identifying the nucleus accumbens as an interface between motivation and action. Kelley also demonstrated that food can be addictive. Her research in neuroscience and promotion of women in the field was often recognized with awards and grants, most recently by the University of Wisconsin as Distinguished Neuroscience Professor and by SfN with the Mika Salpeter Lifetime Achievement Award.
She was an outstanding and internationally known neuroscientist whose life and career were cut prematurely short by cancer in 2007. Kelley began her studies at the University of Pennsylvania where she earned her undergraduate degree and went on to study under Dr. Susan Iversen at the University of Cambridge, where she completed her doctoral program.
Mika Salpeter Lifetime Achievement Award: Carla Shatz, PhD
Established in 2000, the Salpeter Award recognizes individuals with outstanding career achievements in neuroscience who have also actively promoted the professional advancement of women in neuroscience. This award is sponsored by Sanofi-aventis and includes $5,000 for the recipient.
Carla Shatz, a past president of SfN, has been an enthusiastic mentor for young scientists and faculty members in neuroscience. Her deep, personal support of the careers of her trainees is a critical aspect of her commitment to furthering the advancement of women in the field.
Shatz’s research is directed at investigating the ways that connections in the adult nervous system are established during early development. After earning her PhD in Neurobiology at Harvard University in 1976, Shatz’s interest in brain development has led her to several critical observations about human neural development. Her work has also added a new dimension to the interaction between the nervous and immune systems that may underlie psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia.
The Society for Neuroscience is an organization of more than 39,000 researchers and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.