Dr Simon E. Fisher, born 1970, conducts research at Oxford University (Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics) and has been head of the Molecular Neuroscience group there since 2002. He has been Director of the new Language and Genetics Department at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen (Netherlands) since October 2010. His research focuses on the influence of genes involved in the development of speech and language skills. In 1998, while studying a family affected by speech disorders (articulation disorders), Dr Fisher and Anthony Monaco discovered a segment on chromosome 7 that they were able to relate to the family’s distinctive speech traits. By researching the genes of this family and of an unrelated boy displaying the same symptoms, the researchers were able to identify the “language gene” FOXP2 for the first time. Dr Fisher has received numerous academic prizes and distinctions for his research work, and gave the Francis Crick Lecture at the Royal Society in London in 2008.
The Eric Kandel Young Neuroscientists Prize was presented to Dr Fisher during an official ceremony at the University of Zurich on 6 October 2009.