Ulrich Schüller (DE) and Debra J. Skene (UK), EJN Best Publication Award 2021

Dr Ulrich Schüller (DE) and Dr Debra J. Skene (UK), recipients of the EJN Best Publication Award 2021, gave the award lectures at the FENS Regional Meeting 2021 on 25 August 2021.

In the lecture “Metabolomics of sleep deprivation: sex differences”, Dr Skene explained her research on the effects of acute sleep deprivation on plasma melatonin, cortisol and metabolites to understand the metabolic pathways involved in sleep/wake regulation processes.

In the lecture on “TCF4 in development and tumorigenesis of the central nervous system”, Dr Schüller explained his study on how germline mutation in the basic helix-loop transcription factor 4 (TCF4) cause the Pitt-Hopkins syndrome (PTHS), a developmental disorder with severe intellectual disability.

About the 2021 laureates
After earning his MD at the University of Boon in 2003, Dr Ulrich Schüller did his postdoc at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, specialising in neuropathology. He founded his lab at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich in 2007, and later, moved to Hamburg (Germany), where he continues working as a professor for molecular pediatric neuro-oncology and serves as a consultant in neuropathology.

Dr Debra J. Skene has over 25 years of research experience studying the human circadian timing system and circadian rhythm sleep/wake disorders experienced by blind people, shift workers and older people. Currently, she is working as the Section Lead for Chronobiology at the University of Surrey, United Kingdom. She focuses on studying the mechanisms linking circadian clocks, sleep and metabolism in health, circadian disorders and metabolic diseases using liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) metabolomics.

About the award
With this prestigious biennial award sponsored by Wiley, FENS and the European Journal of Neuroscience (EJN) recognise the best original research article published in EJN over the preceding two year period.

Stephan Steidl (US), EJN Best Publication Award 2019

EJN is proud to announce that the winner of the "Best Publication Award 2019" is Dr. Stephan Steidl, Associate Professor at Loyola University Chicago, Department of Psychology.

He receives this award for his publication in EJN:

"Optogenetic excitation in the ventral tegmental area of glutamatergic or cholinergic inputs from the laterodorsal tegmental area drives reward" (published in EJN Volume 45, Issue 4, February 2017). This paper was coauthored by Huiling Wang, Marco Ordonez, Shiliang Zhang and Marisela Morales.

Converging evidence shows that ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopamine neurons receive laterodorsal tegmental nucleus (LDTg) cholinergic and glutamatergic inputs. To test the behavioral consequences of selectively driving the two sources of excitatory LDTg input to the VTA, channelrhodopsin‐2 (ChR2) was expressed in LDTg cholinergic neurons of ChAT::Cre mice (ChAT‐ChR2 mice) or in LDTg glutamatergic neurons of VGluT2::Cre mice (VGluT2‐ChR2 mice). Mice were tested in a 3‐chamber place preference apparatus where entry into a light‐paired chamber resulted in VTA light stimulation of LDTg‐cholinergic or LDTg‐glutamatergic axons for the duration of a chamber stay. ChAT‐ChR2 mice spent more time in the light‐paired chamber and subsequently showed conditioned place preference for the light‐paired chamber in the absence of light. VGluT2‐ChR2 mice, entered the light‐paired chamber significantly more times than a light‐unpaired chamber, but remained in the light‐paired chamber for short time periods and did not show a conditioned place preference. When each entry into the light‐paired chamber resulted in a single train of VTA light stimulation, VGluT2‐ChR2 mice entered the light‐paired chamber significantly more times than the light‐unpaired chamber, but spent approximately equal amounts of time in the two chambers. VTA excitation of LDTg‐glutamatergic inputs may be more important for reinforcement of initial chamber entry while VTA excitation of LDTg‐cholinergic inputs may be more important for the rewarding effects of chamber stays. They suggest that LDTg‐cholinergic and LDTg‐glutamatergic inputs to the VTA each contribute to the net rewarding effects of exciting LDTg axons in the VTA.

The award was presented at the FENS Regional Meeting in Belgrade, Serbia (10 - 13 July 2019). The award winner gave a lecture at this meeting.

Pauline Luczynski (CA), EJN Best Publication Award 2017

In collaboration with FENS and Wiley-Blackwell,  EJN is proud to announce that the winner of the "Best Publication Award 2017" is Ms. Luczynski, medical student at the Island Medical Program, University of British Columbia in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. She is a former research assistant at the APC Microbiome Institute, University College Cork in Cork, Ireland, where research was conducted.

She receives this Award for her publication in EJN:

"Adult microbiota-deficient mice have distinct dendritic morphological changes: differential effects in the amygdala and hippocampus" (published in EJN Volume 44, Issue 9). This paper was coauthored by Seán O. Whelan, Colette O'Sullivan, Gerard Clarke, Fergus Shanahan, Timothy G. Dinan, and John F. Cryan.

In last decade, the amount of evidence implicating the gut microbiota in the regulation of brain and behaviour has grown exponentially. Arguably, the greatest contribution has come from the germ-free mouse model: mice raised in the complete absence of microorganisms. Germ-free mice have demonstrated the microbiota to be a key regulator of a range of behavioural and hormonal endpoints, including hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis signalling, stress responsivity, and social cognition. In our study “Adult microbiota-deficient mice have distinct dendritic morphological changes: differential effects in the amygdala and hippocampus,” we hypothesized that the germ-free phenotype could be due to structural changes in the amygdala and hippocampus, which affect their respective neural outputs. Volumetric estimates revealed that the amygdala and hippocampus of germ-free mice were significantly expanded compared to controls. Similarly, neurons in the basolateral amygdala and ventral hippocampus of germ-free mice showed significant changes in dendritic length and spine density. Taken together, our findings provide convincing evidence that the microbiota is required for the normal gross morphology and ultrastructure of the amygdala and hippocampus. Moreover, these observed structural changes could underlie the maladaptive stress responsivity and social cognition characteristic of germ-free mice.

Our study serves as a proof of principle experiment showing that the amygdala and hippocampus are brain regions whose structural integrity is contingent on signalling from the gut microbiota. This has the potential to explain why expression of limbic system-mediated behaviours and physiology are affected in animal models where the gut microbiota is altered. Our study serves as a starting point to further investigate if the amygdala and hippocampus are structurally malleable following interventions targeting the microbiota across the lifespan. Future findings in this exciting area of research will lead to an increased understanding of the importance of the microbiota on the brain and may ultimately inform new strategies for the treatment of disorders of the brain-gut axis in humans.

The award will be presented at the FENS Regional Meeting in Pécs, Hungary (20 – 23 September 2017). The award winner will give a lecture at FRM meeting.

Silvina Laura Diaz (AR), EJN Best Publication Award 2015

In collaboration with FENS and Wiley-Blackwell, EJN is proud to announce that the winner of the "Best Publication Award 2015" is Dr. Silvina Laura Diaz, PhD, DVM, Researcher at CONICET, Buenos Aires, Argentina and former post-doc at the Fer a Moulin Institute (INSERM/UPMC) in Paris, France, where experiments were conducted.

She receives this Award for her publication in EJN:

"Paradoxical increase in survival of newborn neurons in the dentate gyrus of mice with constitutive depletion of serotonin" (published in EJN volume 38, issue 5). The paper was coauthored by Nicolas Narboux-Nême (equal contribution to SLD), Sara Trowbridge, Sophie Scotto-Lomassese, Felix Kleine Borgemann, Sebastian Jessberger, Bruno Giros, Luc Maroteaux, Evan Deneris and Patricia Gaspar.

The study of Diaz, Narboux-Neme et al. challenged the idea of decreased neurogenesis in a hyposerotonergic brain. They demonstrated a counterintuitive increase of hippocampal cell survival in three different mice models with profound reductions of serotonin neurotransmission. Since this publication, these observations have been replicated in another model of hyposerotonergic mice (Sachs et al, Transl Psy 2013), supporting the concept that physiological levels of serotonin are essential for normal survival of adult-born neurons.

The work of Diaz & Narboux-Nême further explored the role of the serotonin system on physiological neurogenesis, and found that stimulation of the 5-HT1A receptors is sufficient to normalize the altered survival phenotype reported in serotonin-depleted mice. The 5-HT1A receptors are expressed by neural progenitors and GABAergic interneurons in the hippocampus (Klemplin et al., 2010). Particularly, parvalbumin-expressing GABAergic interneurons participate in the differentiation and maturation of progenitor cells in the dentate gyrus through BDNF, appearing as attractive targets to unravel the exact role of serotonin pathways on the fate of adult-born hippocampal neurons.

All in all, this article represents a relevant contribution and opened a series of exciting questions that are currently being addressed at Dr. Diaz’s laboratory in Argentina, to explore and better understand the pathways and mechanisms underlying hippocampal adult neurogenesis.

Dr. Diaz will receive this award of £3,000 at the upcoming FENS Regional Featured Meeting in Thessaloniki, 7 - 10 October 2015.

Lisa Schnell (CH), EJN Best Publication Award 2013

In collaboration with FENS and Wiley-Blackwell, EJN is proud to announce that the winner of the "Best Publication Award 2013" is Dr. Lisa Schnell, researcher at the Brain Research Institute of the University and ETH of Zurich, Switzerland.

She receives this Award for her first-authored publication in EJN:

"Combined delivery of Nogo-A antibody, Neurotrophin-3 and NMDA-NR2D subunits establishes a functional detour in the hemisected spinal cord." (published in the European Journal of Neuroscience, Volume 34, Issue 8, pages 1256–1267, October 2011).

The main focus of Dr. Schnell's work is to understand the complex neuronal and molecular events that follow injury of the spinal cord. Despite early regenerative processes, functional healing of the damaged tissue does not occur. The discovery of the growth-inhibitory myelin component Nogo-A in the laboratory of Dr. Martin E. Schwab, and its subsequent neutralization with an antibody in vivo, has been a major turning point in the field of spinal cord injury. Their demonstration of long-distance regeneration of axons has had a tremendous impact on the scientific community and drew many researchers into this fascinating area. In the EJN research report that was selected as the winner of the Best Publication Award 2013, the authors have conducted anatomical tracing, electrophysiology and behavioral experiments and found that, in adult rats, the combined treatment of anti-Nogo-A antibody, neurotrophin NT-3 and NR2d subunits of NMDA receptors induced the appearance of a functional “detour” around the lesion and improved recovery of function after spinal cord injury in adult rats. This novel combination treatment holds great promise to help improve the function of the damaged spinal cord.

Dr. Schnell's research for the benefit of paraplegic patients was supported by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

Dr. Schnell will receive this award of £3,000 at the upcoming FENS Featured Regional Meeting in Prague, September 11-14, 2013. She will give a Special Lecture at this meeting.

Lea Siksou (FR), EJN Best Publication Award 2011

The recipient of the EJN Best Publication Award 2011 is a former PhD student at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris (France), Dr. Lea Siksou.

Her article, co-authored by F. Varoqueaux, O. Pascual, A. Triller, N. Brose and S. Marty, was selected by the EJN Best Publication Award Committee from a total of 19 nominations of articles published in 2009 and 2010. Her article is entitled "A common molecular basis for membrane docking and functional priming of synaptic vesicles" and was published as a Featured Article in EJN 30, 49-56 (2009). The research described in this article re-assesses a controversial issue about the molecular mechanisms underlying presynaptic vesicle maturation and competency for neurotransmitter release.

The work by Siksou et al. utilizes electron tomography analysis of the ultrastructural features of presynaptic vesicles in synapses from hippocampal neurons of mutant mice lacking Munc-13. Previous work had shown that Munc-13 is essential for vesicular neurotransmitter release, but its precise function remained unsettled. Using high pressure freezing to achieve optimal resolution of tissue components in a "close to native" state, Siksou et al. demonstrated that "docking" and "priming" of presynaptic vesicles are two aspects of the same molecular process mediated by Munc-13, enabling subsequent membrane fusion and transmitter release.

The work by Siksou and colleagues represents an important contribution for deciphering the intricate molecular interactions regulating the life cycle of presynaptic vesicles in chemical synapses. It also highlights how unraveling the structure and function of the nervous system intimately depends on the development of novel experimental tools.

The Award, which is supported by FENS and Wiley-Blackwell, was presented at the FENS Featured Regional Meeting in Ljubljana (September 22-25, 2011). We warmly congratulate Dr. Lea Siksou and her co-authors for this achievement and thank them for having selected EJN for publishing their remarkable study.

Ji Hyun Ko (CA), EJN Best Publication Award 2009

The winner of the 2009 EJN Best Publication Award is a predoctoral student at McGill University, Ji Hyun Ko.

His article, co-authored by O. Monchi, A. Ptito, P. Bloomfield, S. Houle and A. P. Strafella, was selected by the EJN Best Publication Award Committee from a total of 23 nominations. His article, entitled "Theta burst stimulation-induced inhibition of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex reveals hemispheric asymmetry in striatal dopamine release during a set-shifting task a TMS-[11C]raclopride PET study", was published in EJN 28, 2147-2155 (2008). The research described in the article demonstrates that continuous theta burst stimulation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex produced lateralized effects on striatal dopamine neurotransmission during the performance of executive tasks.

The work by Ji Hyun Ko and colleagues points to the importance of the interplay between prefrontal circuits and dopamine release in the striatum for understanding the neuronal mechanisms underlying the cognitive symptoms of patients with Parkinsons' disease.

The Award, which is supported by FENS and Wiley-Blackwell, was presented at the FENS Featured Regional Meeting in Warsaw (September 9-12, 2009). We warmly congratulate Ji Hyun Ko and his co-authors for this achievement and thank them for having selected EJN for publishing their remarkable study.