This biennial prize is donated by Wiley-Blackwell, the publishers of EJN, and was given in recognition of outstanding scientific work in all areas of neuroscience.
In 2010, the Award was given to Pierre Paoletti, Directeur de Recherche at the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) and Group Leader in the Biology Institute of the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris, France.
Pierre Paoletti has made major contributions to our understanding of the molecular determinants responsible for the functional diversity of NMDA receptors, a class of glutamate-gated ion channels that play central roles in brain physiology and pathology. In particular, Pierre Paoletti and his colleagues identified key regions in NR2 subunits that control the subunit-specific gating and pharmacological profile of NMDA receptors, revealing important information about how the receptors are regulated.
Pierre Paoletti and his colleagues are now exploiting these results regarding basic molecular mechanisms to develop original tools, including genetically modified mice, to study specific NMDA receptor functions in their native synaptic environment. Pierre Paoletti graduated from the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris and started a PhD in Molecular Pharmacology and Neuroscience with Prof. Philippe Ascher in the Neurobiology Laboratory at the ENS in 1992. Following the award of his PhD in 1996, Pierre Paoletti joined the laboratory of Prof. Steve Siegelbaum at Columbia University in New York City (USA) and was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. There he studied the gating mechanisms of cyclic-nucleotide-gated channels, a class of ion channels that are central to sensory transduction. In 1999, Pierre Paoletti returned to France to work with Dr. Jacques Neyton and was appointed Chargé de Recherche at INSERM. A few years later he started his own research group in the Biology Department of ENS in Paris on the structure and function of NMDA receptors. In 2007, Pierre Paoletti became Directeur de Recherche at INSERM.
The FENS EJN 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.