Barth, Sacktor, and Tole Receive $25,000 Research Awards for Innovation in Neuroscience
For immediate release.
BARTH, SACKTOR, AND TOLE RECEIVE $25,000 RESEARCH AWARDS FOR INNOVATION IN NEUROSCIENCE
Scientists honored for innovative research advancing novel ideas in neuroscience
Washington, DC — The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) today awarded the Research Awards for Innovation in Neuroscience (RAIN) to Alison Barth, PhD, Todd Sacktor, MD, and Shubha Tole, PhD, during Neuroscience 2008, the SfN annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news on brain science and health. Supported by the Astellas USA Foundation, the award, which includes $25,000 to each recipient, honors innovative research advancing novel ideas with potential to generate significant breakthroughs in neuroscience.
“I congratulate this year’s winners, who are being recognized for novel and promising approaches to long-standing neuroscience mysteries,” said Eve Marder, PhD, president of SfN. “Unexpected methods can spark new ideas and new collaborations that can profoundly advance a field.”
Barth, of Carnegie Mellon University, is leading the way to integrate cellular and molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity into normal brain function. Barth has also played a key role in developing methods for imaging circuit function in mice, an important effort for studies of plasticity and learning and memory. Using a novel strain of transgenic mice that express green fluorescent protein (GFP) under the control of the c-fos promoter (fosGFP transgenic mice), coupling fluorescent gene expression to neural activity, Barth’s research is able to focus on changes occurring in the neurons that have initiated gene expression in response to in vivo experience. Research in the Barth lab has provided great insight into how experience transforms the properties of excitatory synapses.
The discoveries by Sacktor, of State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, and his colleagues hold tremendous promise for treatments for diseases of memory. Sacktor’s research on the hippocampus and long-term potentiation (LTP) led to his finding that a specific isoform of protein kinase C, PKMzeta, was persistently active after the induction of LTP, and that this persistent activity might play a key role in the maintenance of LTP. His work is forcing scientists to reevaluate notions of how memories are stored in the brain. At the same time, the discoveries by Sacktor and his colleagues hold tremendous promise for treatments for diseases of memory.
Tole, of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in India, is examining the genetic mechanisms that regulate brain development. Tole’s work has yielded ground-breaking discoveries in the identification of a novel population of migrating cells that form the amygdala (Nature Neuroscience 2008). In addition, her findings have resulted in the identification of the gene Lhx2 as a master regulator of cortical development. This gene is required to turn off hippocampal fate-specification, and allows cortical development to proceed. Tole’s work has provided novel insight in understanding hippocampal development. In turn, this should help understand the neurodevelopmental component of psychiatric problems such as schizophrenia, depression and anxiety, associated with the hippocampus.
The Society for Neuroscience is an organization of more than 38,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.