SOCIETY FOR NEUROSCIENCE ANNOUNCES ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
SAN DIEGO — The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) announced the winners of major achievement awards during Neuroscience 2013, SfN’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
“SfN is pleased to recognize the contributions of this special group of award winners,” said Larry Swanson, PhD, president of SfN. “From promising young researchers, to accomplished scientists, and the mentors that transform the former into the latter, this group of scientists have made their mark on the field in incredible ways.”
Mika Salpeter Lifetime Achievement Award: Xandra O. Breakefield, PhD
Established in 2000, the Mika Salpeter Award recognizes individuals with outstanding career achievements in neuroscience who have also actively promoted the professional advancement of women in neuroscience. The award includes a $5,000 prize.
Xandra O. Breakefield, PhD, is a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. Breakefield’s early efforts to identify human disease genes in the 1990s led to the discovery of the first genetic mutation underlying hereditary dystonia. Her trailblazing studies exploring tools to deliver therapeutic genes to the nervous system also set her apart in the field of gene therapy. Breakefield’s recent work focuses on characterization of microvesicles released by tumor cells. Breakefield earned her PhD from Georgetown University.
Breakefield has also demonstrated a strong interest in cultivating the next generation of scientists, including advancing the careers of women. In addition to advocating strongly for the development of fellowships to support early career scientists, Breakefield frequently serves as an advisor to junior faculty who are women.
Janett Rosenberg Trubatch Career Development Award: Maria Lehtinen, PhD, and Mi-Hyeon Jang, PhD
Supported by the Trubatch family, the Career Development Award recognizes originality and creativity in neuroscience research conducted by early career professionals. The award includes complimentary SfN annual meeting registration and a $2,000 prize.
Maria Lehtinen, PhD, assistant professor of pathology at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, is on the hunt to identify how cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) provides an adaptive and instructive environment for the developing, adult, and aging brain. Using a combination of biochemical and genetic approaches, she recently identified an important role for embryonic CSF in instructing the proliferation of neural stem cells in early brain development. Understanding the relationship between the active signaling properties of CSF in development and disease has tremendous biological as well as potential therapeutic applications. Lehtinen earned her PhD from Harvard University.
Mi-Hyeon Jang, PhD, assistant professor of neurosurgery at the Mayo Clinic, is looking to uncover the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in neurogenesis, or the birth of new cells, in the adult hippocampus in hopes of elucidating its role in psychiatric and neurological disorders. Jang earned her PhD from Kyung Hee University.
Bernice Grafstein Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Mentoring: Jane Roskams, PhD
The Bernice Grafstein Award recognizes individuals dedicated to promoting women’s advancement in neuroscience, specifically by mentoring women to facilitate their entry into and retention in the field. This award is supported by Bernice Grafstein, PhD, who was the first female president of SfN. The award, established in 2009, includes complimentary registration and transportation to SfN’s annual meeting, along with a $2,000 award.
Jane Roskams, PhD, is a professor of zoology at University of British Columbia (UBC). In addition to being a renowned expert on neural repair and regeneration, Roskams has demonstrated immense commitment to science education and outreach to aspiring scientists at all levels. Her contributions to mentoring are far-reaching, as reflected in her student outreach efforts at local elementary and high schools, dedication to UBC graduate students, and tireless commitment to organizations such as the Society for Neuroscience and the International Brain Research Organization. In addition to pushing for efforts to increase the hiring of more women faculty positions at UBC, Roskams has worked closely on programs aimed at drawing young women toward careers in the sciences with the Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology. Roskams earned her PhD from Penn State University.
Louise Hansen Marshall Special Recognition Award: Kathie Olsen, PhD
The Louise Hanson Marshall Special Recognition Award honors an individual who has significantly promoted the professional development of women in neuroscience through teaching, organizational leadership, public advocacy, and more. The award includes complimentary SfN annual meeting registration.
Kathie L. Olson, PhD, is an associate professor of neuroscience at George Mason. In addition her work in the area of hormones and behavior, Olsen has demonstrated immense commitment to promoting the professional development and equitable treatment of women in science throughout her career. Beginning in the 1980s, she designed a National Science Foundation funding mechanism focused on mid-career development for Women in Science and Engineering, and later strengthened programs designed to increase opportunities for women in the sciences. As Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation, she co-sponsored a White House conference on girls in science and technology with the Department of Education, and helped to develop educational materials for girls interested in scientific careers with scientific organizations and the Girl Scouts of America. Olsen earned her PhD from the University of California, Irvine.
Patricia Goldman-Rakic Hall of Honor: Rita Levi-Montalcini, MD
The Patricia Goldman-Rakic Hall of Honor is a posthumous award for a neuroscientist who pursued career excellence and exhibited dedication to the advancement of women in neuroscience. The family of the deceased honoree receives an engraved Tiffany & Co. crystal bowl.
Rita Levi-Montalcini, MD, was a transformative figure in neuroscience. Her discovery of the first growth factor called nerve growth factor (NGF) — a protein that is vital to the health and survival of nerve cells — in the 1950s forever changed scientists’ understanding of the mechanisms that control the development of the nervous system. Levi-Montalcini’s discovery opened new avenues in the study of neuroscience, immunology, and cancer studies, and in 1986, she received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her work in this area.
Levi-Montalcini, a native of Italy, has inspired scientists for decades, not only due to her work as a neuroscientist, but also as a politician, writer, and education advocate. She died in December 2012 at the age of 103.
The Society for Neuroscience is an organization of nearly 42,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.