Society for Neuroscience Presents Peter and Patricia Gruber International Research Awards
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) will present Hidehiko Inagaki, PhD, and Vidhya Rangaraju, PhD, with this year’s Peter and Patricia Gruber International Research Awards. The $25,000 award, supported by The Gruber Foundation, recognizes two young neuroscientists for outstanding research and educational pursuit in an international setting. It will be presented during SfN’s Awards Announcement Week 2020.
“It is an honor to present the Peter and Patricia Gruber Award to these two deserving, early-career scientists,” SfN President Barry Everitt, PhD said. “Beginning in their graduate training, Drs. Inagaki and Rangaraju both demonstrated the ability to provide impactful answers to fundamental questions in neuroscience. They are positioned to continue making breakthroughs in their chosen fields.”
As a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology, Inagaki studied how internal states, such as hunger, or arousal, change information processing by the brain. He developed neurotechnology for circuit tracing and optogenetics and also completed significant projects related to the neural control of feeding in Drosophila. As a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus, Inagaki performed ground-breaking mechanistic analyses of short-term memory and movement initiation in mice. His work has shown that the frontal cortex and thalamus form a strong excitatory loop to maintain short-term memory following a network mechanism called discrete attractor dynamics. Now in his own lab at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, Inagaki leads the Neural Dynamics and Cognitive Functions research group. His current research focus is to understand the cellular and network mechanisms underlying cognitive functions, such as decision-making and time perception, in mice.
Rangaraju studies the role of energy-producing organelles called mitochondria in the brain. She completed her PhD at Weill Cornell Medicine, where she developed and applied a novel approach to measuring concentrations of ATP (an organic molecule that provides energy to fuel cellular processes) in living nerve terminals, elucidating the link between neuronal activity and ATP synthesis. As an EMBO and Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt, Germany, Rangaraju investigated the energy source for protein synthesis in neurons during synaptic plasticity, a mechanism important for memory formation. Her findings showed that mitochondria serve as local energy supply for local translation in dendrites. As a research group leader at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, Rangaraju is continuing her focus on neuronal mitochondria, with plans of applying her research to model systems of diseases like Parkinson’s and ALS, where the underlying causes of mitochondrial protein dysfunction are mostly unknown.
A longstanding SfN partner, the Gruber Foundation honors and encourages educational excellence in neuroscience and other fields, recognizing groundbreaking work that provides new models that inspire and enable fundamental shifts in knowledge and culture. The 2020 Gruber Neuroscience Prize is being awarded to Friedrich Bonhoeffer, of the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Corey Goodman, of venBio, and Marc Tessier-Lavigne, of Stanford University, for their groundbreaking work in elucidating the molecular mechanisms that guide developing axons to their targets, a key step in the formation of neural circuits. The prize will be presented to these three recipients on November 18, 2020 in a virtual ceremony.
The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is an organization of nearly 36,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and the nervous system.