Michal Schwartz (IL), FENS-EJN Award 2022

Professor Michal Schwartz (Israel) has been awarded with the FENS-EJN Award 2022 for her outstanding career in the area of neuroimmunology. Working as a Professor of Neuroimmunology at the Weizmann Institute of Science, she is the world pioneer in breaking the long-held dogma regarding the relationships between the central nervous system and the immune system. Deciphering the mechanism led her to propose that ageing or exhaustion of the immune system plays a crucial role in perpetuating Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia and to suggest a novel treatment for AD, which harnesses the immune system to help the brain.

Professor Schwartz received her BSc, cum laude, from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and her PhD in Immunology from the Weizmann Institute. She was also twice granted an advanced ERC award as well as receiving numerous prestigious national and international awards for her outstanding achievements, including the 2002 Friedenwald Award from ARVO, for outstanding contribution to vision research and the Distinguished G. Heiner Sell Memorial Lectureship in 2002 for exceptional achievement in the field of spinal cord injury. More recently, she was chosen in 2019 as Outstanding Mentor of the Year by the Israeli Neuroscience Society; 15 of her former graduate students currently hold academic faculty positions in Israel, the USA, Europe and Australia.

Professor Schwartz gave the FENS-EJN Award Lecture at the FENS Forum 2022 and wrote a review in the European Journal of Neuroscience (EJN).

The FENS-EJN Award is given in recognition of outstanding scientific work in all areas of neuroscience. The award is a personal prize of £10,000, sponsored by Wiley (publisher of the European Journal of Neuroscience)

Seth Grant (UK), FENS-EJN Award 2020

This award is sponsored by the EJN publisher Wiley and is given in recognition of an outstanding scientific work in any area of neuroscience. In 2020 the FENS EJN Award is presented to Prof. Seth Grant (University of Edinburgh, UK).

Seth Grant is internationally recognized for his seminal contributions to understanding the molecular biology of brain synapses and their function in health and disease. Pioneering work on the postsynaptic proteome (PSP) of excitatory synapses, spanning 25 years in the UK and involving major European and international partnerships, has produced transformative conceptual advances in our appreciation of brain structure and the mechanisms of learning, memory and behaviour, and revealed the key role of the synapse in numerous developmental, neurological and psychiatric diseases (synaptopathies), something promoted by a commitment to the dissemination and sharing of new findings.

His work (176 research publications to date) has been fundamental in revealing and then characterising the unprecedented complexity (>1000 highly conserved proteins) of the PSP in terms of the subsynaptic architecture of proteins such as PSD95 and how these assemble into complexes and supercomplexes in different neurons and regions of the brain. Characterising PSPs in multiple species, including human and mouse, revealed differences in key sets of functionally important proteins, correlates with brain imaging and connectome data, and a differential distribution of disease-relevant proteins and pathways. Such studies have also provided important insight into synapse evolution and the establishment of vertebrate behavioural complexity.

His lab identified many mutations causing cognitive impairments in mice before they were found to cause human disorders. His proteomic studies revealed that >130 brain diseases are caused by mutations affecting postsynaptic proteins. He uncovered mechanisms that explain the polygenic basis and age of onset of schizophrenia, with postsynaptic proteins, including PSD95 supercomplexes, carrying much of the polygenic burden. He discovered the “Genetic Lifespan Calendar”, a genomic programme that could explain how schizophrenia susceptibility genes are timed to exert their effects in young adults.

The Genes to Cognition programme is the largest genetic study undertaken into the synaptic molecular mechanisms underlying behaviour and physiology. Seth has made important conceptual advances that inform how the repertoire of innate and learned behaviours is built from unique combinations of postsynaptic proteins that amplify or attenuate the behavioural response. This constitutes a key advance in understanding how the brain decodes information inherent in patterns of nerve impulses, and provides insight into why the PSP has evolved to be so complex and, consequently, why the phenotypes of synaptopathies are so diverse.

His most recent work has opened a new phase, and scale, in understanding synapses with the first synaptome maps of the brain. Next-generation methods (SYNMAP) that enable single-synapse resolution molecular mapping across the whole mouse brain and extensive regions of the human brain have revealed the molecular and morphological features of a billion synapses. This has already uncovered unprecedented spatiotemporal synapse diversity organised into an architecture that correlates with the structural and functional connectomes, and shown how mutations reorganise these synaptome maps; for example, by detecting vulnerable synapse subtypes and synapse loss in Alzheimer’s disease. This innovative technology has huge potential to help characterise how the brain changes during normal development, including in specific cell types, and with degeneration, facilitating novel pathways to diagnosis and therapy.

Silvia Arber (CH), FENS-EJN Award 2018

In 2018, the FENS-EJN Award is presented to Prof. Silvia Arber for her excellent contributions to the understanding of mechanisms involved in function, assembly and plasticity of neuronal circuits controlling motor behaviour.

A Swiss scientist by origin, Dr. Arber obtained her PhD in 1995 from the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Basel. Following a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Columbia University, Dr. Arber returned in 2000 to Basel where she holds a joint position as Professor of Neurobiology/Cell Biology and Deputy Director at the Briozentrum, University of Basel and Senior Group Leader at the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel.

In her research, Dr. Arber works to identify the principles by which neuronal circuits orchestrate accurate and timely control of motor behaviour. Using multi-facetted approaches combining genetic, molecular and behavioural techniques, her research has helped define how the nervous system produce a large repertoire of movement patterns, from locomotion to skilled forelimb tasks. These studies by Dr. Arber and her colleagues have uncovered the mechanisms that are involved in motor circuit assembly during development, as well as circuit plasticity during motor learning in health and disease.

Silvia Arber is a member of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences, the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), Academia Europea and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. During her exceptional research career she has received numerous awards, including the National Latsis Prize (2003), the Friedrich Miescher Award (2008), the Otto Naegeli Prize for Medical Research (2014), Remedios Caro Almela Prize in Developmental Neurobiology (2015) and most recently the 2017 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine.

The FENS-EJN Award is sponsored by Wiley (publisher of EJN) and will be presented to Prof. Dr. Arber at the FENS Forum 2018 in Berlin (7 – 11 July 2018).

Antonello Bonci (IT), FENS-EJN Award 2016

In 2016, the FENS-EJN Award is presented to Dr. Antonello Bonci for his important contributions to advancing our understanding of the synaptic mechanisms and neurocircuitry underlying reward- and drug abuse-related behaviours.

An Italian scientist by origin, Dr. Bonci received his medical degree at the Sacred Heart School of Medicine in Rome in 1991. Following his residency in neurology at the School of Neurology in Rome and postdoctoral training at the Vollum Institute for Advanced biomedical Research in Portland, US, Dr. Bonci has held positions as scientific faculty in the Department of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center in San Francisco, US.

Since 2010 Dr. Bonci heads the Intramural Research program at the National institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in Bethesda, USA.

Dr. Bonci and his collaborators were among the first to demonstrate that highly addictive drugs, such as cocaine, are able to induce forms of synaptic plasticity, or the long-term ability to strengthen neuronal connections that underlie fundamental and long lasting neurochemical changes in the brain. His seminal studies from 2001 have inspired a series of similar multidisciplinary studies from many other scientific groups aimed at understanding the mechanistic relationship and the causal link between long-term changes in synaptic transmission and reward or drug-related behaviours. Other important examples of the important scientific contributions from the Bonci laboratory include elegant studies on the effects of longer in-vivo passive and operant exposure to cocaine, including description of the cellular mechanisms underlying long-term alterations by cocaine.

In addition to his scientific contributions, Dr. Bonci has demonstrated a sincere commitment as Scientific Director of IRP at NIDA to promote collaboration and scientific exchange across communities and barriers including the establishment of international partnerships with prominent research institutions among which several are located in Europe.

Antonello Bonci is recipient of the 2004 Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award and the Daniel H. Efron Award in 2009 and was honoured with the officer position of the Order of the Star of Italy in 2014.

The FENS-EJN Award is sponsored by Wiley (publisher of EJN) and will be presented to Dr. Bonci at the FENS Forum 2016 in Copenhagen    (2 – 6 July, 2016).

Alexander Borst (DE), FENS-EJN Award 2014

In 2014, the award was presented to Alexander Borst.

How do nerve cells compute? This is the question driving Alexander Borst's research for many decades now. It is the simple but rather profound observation that on the one hand, the brain performs astonishingly complex computations that are best described in mathematical terms, and on the other hand, the brain does that with neurons where ions flow across the membrane eliciting excitatory and inhibitory potentials or spikes. How these two aspects go together, i.e. the biophysics of neural computation, is at the centre of his research interest. As an example for neural computation, Alexander Borst studies motion vision in flies, bringing together a variety of methods like computer modelling, behavioural studies, electrophysiology, calcium imaging and genetics. This work is absolutely cutting edge and world class and will on a fundamental level deepen our understanding of motion vision. His research is truly innovative and multi-disciplinary including experimental and theoretical work; he is also implementing his knowledge about fly motion vision into the development of miniature airborne vehicles (the RoboFly project). Alexander Borst’s contributions over the past ten years have made him a leading figure in fly motion vision worldwide.

Alexander Borst is director at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried near Munich (Germany) and head of the department Systems and Computational Neurobiology. He was born on August 18, 1957 in Bad Neustadt/Saale, Germany, and studied biology at the University of Würzburg, where he obtained his PhD as a member of Martin Heisenberg's group. He worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen. Afterwards, he led an Independent Junior Research Group at the Friedrich-Miescher-Laboratory of the Max Planck Society. He was professor at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2001, he was appointed director at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology. He is a member of EMBO, the Leopoldina, and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences.

The FENS-EJN Award is sponsored by Wiley-Blackwell (publishers of EJN). It was presented at the 2014 FENS Forum in Milan (July 5 9, 2014).

Barry Everitt (UK), FENS-EJN Award 2012

In 2012, the award was to Barry Everitt, Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge and Master of Downing College. Barry Everitt’s research has contributed immensely to our understanding of the neural mechanisms of reward mechanisms, drug-seeking behavior and relapse. Dr. Everitt’s work has had a tremendous impact on the field as indicated, for example, that he is among the world’s 100 most highly cited neuroscientists.

Professor Barry Everitt graduated from the University of Hull with a B.Sc. in Zoology in 1967. He gained his Ph.D. in behavioural neuroendocrinology from the University of Birmingham in 1970. Following postdoctoral neuroscience research as an MRC Fellow at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, he joined the Department of Anatomy at the University of Cambridge as a lecturer in 1974 and was appointed Reader in Neuroscience in 1991. He moved to the Department of Experimental Psychology in Cambridge in 1994 and was elected Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience in 1997. In 2003, he was elected as the Master of Downing College, having been a Fellow since 1976 and the Director of Studies in Medicine until 1997.

Barry Everitt was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (2007) and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (2008). He has received honorary D.Sc. degrees from both his almae matres (Hull University in 2009; Birmingham University in 2010). He was the co-recipient of the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award (2011) and the European Behavioural Pharmacological Society’s Distinguished Achievement Award (2011). He has been President of the British Association for Psychopharmacology (1992-4), the European Brain and Behaviour Society (1998-2000) and the European Behavioural Pharmacology Society (2003-5). He was Chair of the International Fellowships Committee of the Human Frontier Science Program (1994-6), a member of the MRC Neurosciences and Mental Health Board (1999-2003) and a Scientific Counsellor for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Washington DC, 2002-6). He was Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of Neuroscience from 1997-2008 and has been a Reviewing Editor for the journal Science since 2005. He chaired the Programme Committee for the first FENS Forum in Berlin in 1998, when the FENS was established and is currently Chair of the Program Committee for the 2012 Society for Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans.

His research is concerned with understanding the neural mechanisms of motivation, reward, learning and memory, especially in the context of drug addiction. Some key findings of research by the talented researchers who have worked in his laboratory include: (i) the importance of amygdala-nucleus accumbens interactions in mediating the impact of drug associated stimuli on drug seeking; (ii) the shift in the neural control over drug seeking behaviour from ventral to dorsal striatum that underlies the transition from being goal-directed to habitual; (iii) that impulsive individuals are those having the propensity to seek drugs compulsively; (iv) the reconsolidation of drug-associated memories and its dependence on specific neurochemical and molecular processes in the amygdala. He has published over 400 scientific papers and is one of the world’s 100 most highly cited neuroscience researchers.

The FENS-EJN Award is sponsored by Wiley-Blackwell (publishers of EJN). It was presented at the 2012 FENS Forum in Barcelona (July 14-18, 2012).

Wolfram Schultz (UK), FENS-EJN Award 2010

In 2010, the award was given to Wolfram Schultz, Wellcome Principal Research Fellow and Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, where he is a member of the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience.

The award winner is interested in relating the mechanics of brain activity to measurable behaviour. He combines behavioural, neurophysiological and neuroimaging techniques to investigate the neural mechanisms of learning, goal-directed behaviour and economic decision making at the level of single neurons and individual brain structures. He uses behavioural concepts from animal learning theory and economic decision theories to study the neurophysiology and neuroimaging of reward and risk in individual neurons and in specific brain regions, including the dopamine system, striatum, orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala.

Wolfram Schultz discovered the phasic reward signal of dopamine neurons and characterised its coding of reward prediction error. He also imaged the first human brain reward signal with Nico Leenders. His current interests are in adaptive and reference dependent coding of reward value (a corner stone of Prospect Theory), neuronal risk signals for reward, and the influence of risk on reward value (as predicted by Utility Theory). These studies help to kindle the current interest of the experimental and theoretical neuroscience community in reinforcement learning and neuroeconomics and led to a large number of reward and economic decision studies in humans and animals that provide a biological foundation for neuroeconomics.

Wolfram Schultz received his doctoral degree in medicine from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and his habilitation at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Max-Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, SUNY Buffalo and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, respectively, before taking up junior and senior faculty positions at the University of Fribourg. In 2001 he moved to the University of Cambridge. He was a visiting scientist at Tokyo Metropolitan Institute for Neuroscience and at Tamagawa University and is a Visiting Research Associate at Caltech, Pasadena.

A Fellow of the Royal Society, Wolfram Schultz has been awarded the 1984 Ellerman Prize of the Swiss Societies of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Neuropatholgy, the 1997 Theodore-Ott Prize of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences (shared), the 2002 Golden Brain Award of the Minerva Foundation, San Francisco, and the 2005 Ipsen Prize for Neuronal Plasticity (shared). Wolfram Schultz is a past president of the European Brain and Behaviour Society and has served on national and international scientific councils and committees.

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.

John O'Keefe (UK), FENS-EJN Award 2008

In 2008, the Award was given to John O'Keefe, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, where he is a member of the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology.

The award winner has had a lifetime interest in the hippocampus and its role in memory. The loss of memory for events or episodes is one of the earliest signs of Alzheimer's dementia and this is usually attributed to hippocampal damage. Dr. O'Keefe has tackled this problem by studying how networks of hippocampal neurones code for locations in an environment. He discovered the place-coded cells in the hippocampus and authored (with Lynn Nadel) the ground-breaking book "The Hippocampus as a Cognitive Map" in which they set out the spatial theory of hippocampal function. This theory identified spatial learning, navigation and exploration of new environments as important functions of the hippocampus, and showed how an extension of this spatial system might underpin human episodic memory. More recently O'Keefe has demonstrated that, in addition to firing rate, the timing of pyramidal cell action potentials relative to the EEG theta rhythm carries spatial information. This phase code provides some of the best evidence for the role of timing and oscillations as fundamental components of information representation in the mammalian central nervous system.

Dr O'Keefe received a doctoral degree in physiological psychology from McGill University in Montreal and originally went to University College London in 1967 as a US National Institute of Mental Health postdoctoral fellow working with the late Patrick Wall. He has been there ever since, becoming a Professor in 1987.
A Fellow of the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences, O'Keefe has been awarded the Feldberg Foundation Prize in 2001 for work in medical and biological science, the 2006 Grawemeyer prize in psychology, and the 2007 British Neuroscience Association Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Neuroscience.
O'Keefe is a past chair of the British Neuroscience Association and has served on the councils of the Royal Society and the International Brain Research Organization.

The FENS-EJN Award 2008 was presented in Geneva during the Forum of European Neuroscience 2008 (July 12 - 16, 2008). The prize winner gave a special lecture at the meeting.

John Garthwaite (UK), FENS-EJN Award 2006

John Garthwaite received FENS-EJN Award

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 Garthwaite’s 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.

Richard Morris (UK), FENS-EJN Award 2004

During the Forum of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) held July 10-14, 2004, in Lisbon, the FENS-EJN Award was presented for the first time. This biennial award donated by Wiley-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 2004 was given to from the Division of Neuroscience, University of Edinburgh, UK. Prof. Morris is a world-renowned researcher who has made many ground breaking discoveries, particularly in the areas of memory and learning, glutamate receptors, stroke and Alzheimer's. His 'Morris water maze' is used world-wide and his name is familiar to all students of Neuroscience and Psychology. Notably he has tackled the enormously difficult challenge of understanding these complex neurological systems in vivo. Prof. Morris has risen to and overcome these challenges with scientific elegance, technical ingenuity and great insight and innovation.

In addition to his great achievements as a researcher, Prof. Morris has played a major role in teaching Neuroscience at all levels. His excellent booklet 'Neuroscience: The Science of the Brain' (2003) has recently been distributed to all UK schools and is being translated into several other languages. Prof. Morris is an enthusiastic supporter of European Neuroscience. Currently, he serves as 'President-elect' of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies.

Previous prizes awarded to Prof. Morris include the Zotterman Medal of the Swedish Physiological Society (1999) and the Annual Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement in Neuroscience of the British Neuroscience Association (2002). He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Academy of Medical Sciences, and the Royal Society.