In 2016, the FENS-EJN Award is presented to Dr. Antonello Bonci for his important contributions to advancing our understanding of the synaptic mechanisms and neurocircuitry underlying reward- and drug abuse-related behaviours.
An Italian scientist by origin, Dr. Bonci received his medical degree at the Sacred Heart School of Medicine in Rome in 1991. Following his residency in neurology at the School of Neurology in Rome and postdoctoral training at the Vollum Institute for Advanced biomedical Research in Portland, US, Dr. Bonci has held positions as scientific faculty in the Department of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center in San Francisco, US.
Since 2010 Dr. Bonci heads the Intramural Research program at the National institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in Bethesda, USA.
Dr. Bonci and his collaborators were among the first to demonstrate that highly addictive drugs, such as cocaine, are able to induce forms of synaptic plasticity, or the long-term ability to strengthen neuronal connections that underlie fundamental and long lasting neurochemical changes in the brain. His seminal studies from 2001 have inspired a series of similar multidisciplinary studies from many other scientific groups aimed at understanding the mechanistic relationship and the causal link between long-term changes in synaptic transmission and reward or drug-related behaviours. Other important examples of the important scientific contributions from the Bonci laboratory include elegant studies on the effects of longer in-vivo passive and operant exposure to cocaine, including description of the cellular mechanisms underlying long-term alterations by cocaine.
In addition to his scientific contributions, Dr. Bonci has demonstrated a sincere commitment as Scientific Director of IRP at NIDA to promote collaboration and scientific exchange across communities and barriers including the establishment of international partnerships with prominent research institutions among which several are located in Europe.
Antonello Bonci is recipient of the 2004 Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award and the Daniel H. Efron Award in 2009 and was honoured with the officer position of the Order of the Star of Italy in 2014.
The FENS-EJN Award is sponsored by Wiley (publisher of EJN) and will be presented to Dr. Bonci at the FENS Forum 2016 in Copenhagen (2 – 6 July, 2016).