During the Forum of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) held from July 8 through 12, 2006, in Vienna, the FENS EJN Award was presented for the second time. This biennial award donated by Blackwell Publishing, publishers of the European Journal of Neuroscience (EJN), is given in recognition of outstanding scientific work in all areas of Neuroscience. It is a personal prize of 18.000 Euro.
The FENS EJN Award 2006 was given to John Garthwaite from the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research, University College London, UK. Professor Garthwaites interest is in understanding how cells in the brain carry out their main task, which is to communicate with one another and store information. He also aims to understand how abnormalities in communication can arise, because these are important in brain disorders such as epilepsy and chronic pain, as well as for the injury and death of brain cells that occurs acutely in conditions such as stroke, or more chronically in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and other diseases.
One of the most curious ways in which brain cells communicate with each other is through the very simple but potentially toxic molecule, nitric oxide (NO). Almost all brain regions are able to make NO and, accordingly, it subserves many different functions, including memory formation, vision, feeding and drinking, sexual behaviour and the regulation of blood flow. Too much NO, however, can cause brain cells to die and hence the molecule is suspected of participating in a range neurodegenerative disorders. Prof. Garthwaite found in 1988 that nerve cells produce NO and his research aims to understand how NO functions at the cellular level.
John Garthwaite was born in 1949. In 1977 he got his Ph.D. in Pharmacology at the University of London. From 1992 to 1995 he was Head of Neuroscience Research, Wellcome Research Laboratories at Beckenham, Kent. From 1996 to present he holds a position as Professor of Experimental Neuroscience at the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research, and Department of Pharmacology at the University College London. In 1995 he was awarded the Astra Anglo-Nordic Pharmacology Prize, and he was ISI Highly Cited Researcher (Original Member) in Pharmacology.