The Boehringer Ingelheim FENS Research Award 2014 is confered to Dr. Judit Makara, Institute of Experimental Medicine of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest, Hungary for her findings on the mechanisms that determine interactions and integration of multiple activated synaptic inputs in neurons.
Judit Makara is in particular interested in the impact of local properties of the receiving dendrites at the site of activity. Both passive and active electrical properties provide forms of dendritic processing that can shape the voltage responses particularly to strong, spatio-temporally correlated excitatory synaptic inputs, allowing specific detection of patterns of synaptic activity. Furthermore, these dendritic properties, particularly ion conductances may be regulated by experience. Combining two-photon microscopic imaging and uncaging with electrophysiological and optogenetic techniques, allowing specific stimulation of multiple synapses, her goal is to explore how such dendritic computational mechanisms and their modulation may contribute to the flexible formation and consolidation of information-coding neuronal ensembles in the hippocampus.
Judit Makara is a medical doctor who did her PhD in cellular physiology with Prof. András Spät at the Department of Physiology of the Semmelweis Medical University in Budapest, Hungary. Between 2003-2006 she worked as a postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Tamás Freund at the Institute of Experimental Medicine in Budapest, Hungary where she started focusing on neuronal physiology. In 2006 she joined the lab of Dr. Jeff Magee at Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, Virginia for a second postdoc period where she studied dendritic integration of excitatory synaptic inputs and, together with her colleagues, made several discoveries on the effects of plastic dendritic properties on information processing in hippocampal neurons. In 2011 she returned to her home country Hungary, where she established her own research group at the Institute of Experimental Medicine of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest.
The Boehringer Ingelheim FENS Research Award is sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim and is announced by the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS). It is given in recognition of outstanding and innovative scientific contributions in any area of neuroscience research. The prize money is 25.000 Euro. Applications can either be submitted by candidates themselves, or candidates can be proposed. Applicants must be under 40 years of age and either be working in a European institute or be European origin working abroad. The award was presented in Milan during the 9th Forum of European Neuroscience 2014 (July 5 – 9, 2014). The prize winner gave a plenary lecture at the meeting.