Vikram Gadagkar and Johannes Kohl Chosen as Recipients of Peter and Patricia Gruber International Research Award
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) has named Vikram Gadagkar, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Jesse H. Goldberg’s lab at Cornell University, and Johannes Kohl, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Catherine Dulac's lab at Harvard University, as the recipients of this year’s Peter and Patricia Gruber International Research Award.
This $25,000 award, supported by The Gruber Foundation, is given to two postdoctoral fellows who have contributed outstanding neuroscience research in an international setting. It will be presented at Neuroscience 2018, SfN’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
“Kohl’s research on the neural circuits involved in control of sex-specific parenting behavior in mice is well-cited, and Gadagkar's studies have elucidated how the neural circuitry responsible for trial-and-error learning mechanisms parallel reward-seeking behavior,” SfN President Richard Huganir said. “The fact that they have made these accomplishments so early in their careers is testimony to the role that the next generation of neuroscientists will have in shaping the field.”
Gadagkar began his studies in experimental quantum physics, transitioning to neuroscience as a doctoral student at Cornell, where he became interested in the neural networks underlying behavior. In Goldberg's lab, he studies trial-and-error learning mechanisms, using how songbirds determine correct versus erroneous song outcomes as a model system. He found that when a songbird heard an incorrect part of the song sequence (distorted with auditory feedback), basal ganglia-projecting dopamine neurons were suppressed; when that part was undistorted, these neurons were activated.
Kohl also researches neural circuits and how they affect behavior. He received his doctorate in molecular biology at the University of Cambridge, where he identified a part of a neural circuit that allows the control of sex-specific behavior in Drosophila. In the Dulac Lab, he studies the control of sex-specific behaviors by neuronal circuitry. Kohl identified and isolated cells of interest, a subpopulation of hypothalamic neurons, and defined their discrete synaptic connections and their behavioral role by stimulating those neural networks in awake animals. Kohl showed how parental behaviors are coordinated by these cells and provided a new model for how a neural circuit controls social behavior.
The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is an organization of nearly 36,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and the nervous system.