The FENS EJN Young Investigator Prize is a biennial prize donated by Wiley-Blackwell, publishers of EJN, and is given in recognition of outstanding scientific work in any area of neuroscience to a researcher under 35 years of age at the deadline of nomination. It is a personal prize of GBP 7,000. Candidates must either be working in a European research institution or be of European origin if working outside of Europe. Individuals may apply themselves or be nominated by a FENS member.
The 2014 FENS EJN Young Investigator Prize was presented to Dr. Emre Yaksi, director at Neuroelectronics Research Flanders in Leuve, Belgium.
What are the fundamental principles underlying the functioning of the brain? Neuroscientists have tackled various parts of this question in isolated neurons, cell cultures and brain slices. Yet the brain is a complex system that functions as a whole. It is therefore crucial to develop novel technologies to monitor the activity, to measure the connectivity and to perturb functional elements of neural circuits, in vivo.
Throughout his career, Dr. Emre Yaksi developed and used optical, electrophysiological and genetic tools for studying neural computation in small genetically tractable animals, namely fruitfly and zebrafish. The unique combination of these novel technologies enables neuroscientists to design innovative experiments to study neural circuits, which were unthinkable only a few years ago. Together with his team, Dr. Yaksi explores the function and the architecture of neural circuits involved in one of the least studied sensory modalities; the chemical senses. The major goals of his laboratory is to investigate 1)how chemosensory information is integrated and processed to generate behavior, 2) how do the components of neural circuits interact with each other and the sensory world, 3)what functional rules govern the assembly of neural circuits in developing or adult brains. Dr. Emre Yaksi is director at NERF (Neuroelectronics Research Flanders, Leuven-Belgium), a new research institute (founded by VIB, imec, KULeuven) that is dedicated to study the function of brain circuits. He was born on March 13, 1978 in Turkey. He received his B.Sc. (2001) in Molecular Biology at Middle East Technical University, Ankara-Turkey. He obtained his PhD (2007) in the laboratory of Dr. Rainer Friedrich at Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg-Germany. He worked as a post-doctoral fellow (2007-2010) in Dr. Rachel Wilson’s laboratory at Harvard Medical School, Boston-USA. He leads his research team at NERF since December 2010 and appointed as an assistant professor at KU Leuven since October 2011.
The FENS EJN Young Investigator Prize was presented at the 2014 FENS Forum in Milan (July 5 - 9, 2014).