In 2010, the Award was given to Fekrije Selimi, a researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), in the laboratory 'Neurobiologie des Processus Adaptatifs' at the University Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris, France).
The award winner is interested in studying the mechanisms controlling the development of the highly sophisticated neuronal connectivity of the mammalian brain. She combines genetic modification of the mouse with biochemical approaches to dissect the signaling pathways underlying the specificity of brain connections. Her strategy, the 'synaptic protein profiling' approach, has allowed, the isolation of a single type of synapse from the mouse brain the parallel fiber/Purkinje cell synapse of the cerebellum for the first time. Coupled with mass spectrometry analysis this strategy has allowed the identification of about 60 different candidate proteins at this particular synapse. Her project aims at extending this approach to another synapse the climbing fiber/Purkinje cell synapse in order to perform the first comparison of the protein composition of two synapses with the same target-neuron: this will enable the direct identification of a potential 'molecular synaptic code'.
Dr. Fekrije Selimi graduated from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris (France). She received a PhD in Neurosciences in 2000 from the University Pierre and Marie Curie (Paris, France) for her studies on the mechanisms of neuronal death in the Lurcher mutant mice in the laboratory of Pr. Mariani. She then joined the laboratory for Molecular Biology led by Pr. Nathaniel Heintz at the Rockefeller University (New York, USA) as a post-doctoral fellow funded by the Human Frontier Science Programme Organization. There she pursued her interest on the molecular biology of synapses and developed her strategy for the isolation of specific synapses from the mouse brain. In 2007, she came back to France as a CNRS chargé de recherche and started developing her own group in the laboratory "Neurobiologie des Processus Adaptatifs" at the University Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris, France), with the scientific goal of finding the signaling pathways underlying brain connectivity.
The Boehringer-Ingelheim FENS Award 2010 was presented in Amsterdam during the Forum of European Neuroscience 2010 (July 3-7, 2010). The prize winner gave a special lecture at the meeting.