The Brains Behind Neuroscience

FENS is the voice of European neuroscience! Professor Richard Roche, Chair of the FENS Communication Committee, will speak with 13 scientists focusing on various areas of brain research. The podcast will also feature relevant neuroscience events and opportunities. Make sure to tune in to the best of European neuroscience!

Podcast Powered By Podbean!

Badges | Podbean

apple-podcast-logo - UW Autism Google-Podcast-Logo | Inspiring Speech


Richard Roche – Chair of the Communication Committee 

Dr Richard Roche is a Professor and Deputy Head of Department at the Department of Psychology, Maynooth University, where he has been employed since 2005, following undergraduate, postgraduate and postdoctoral study at Trinity College, Dublin. His areas of interest are cognitive neuroscience/neuropsychology, particularly memory, ageing, dementia, stroke, brain injury and synaesthesia. He has published 37 research articles, over 90 conference posters, several book chapters and three academic books (plus one novel). He has to date accrued over EUR 1.4 million in research funding and has graduated 9 PhD students and 3 MSc students. He has served as President of Neuroscience Ireland and was Founding President of the Irish Brain Council. He is also strongly committed to science outreach and public engagement and has served on the FENS Communications Committee since 2020, of which he became Chair in 2022.

Gaia Novarino

Gaia Novarino is a professor and group leader at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria. Before moving to Austria, she worked as a research fellow at the University of California, San Diego, as well as the Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association and the Centre for Molecular Neurobiology Hamburg.  

Her research aims to study genes underlying inherited forms of neurodevelopmental disorders such as epilepsy, intellectual disability, and autism. Her group employs many different techniques, from molecular biology to behaviour, to identify common pathophysiological mechanisms underlying this group of disorders. 

The Novarino group studies the function of epilepsy, intellectual disability, and autism-causing genes at the system, cellular, and molecular levels with the goal of providing a framework for the development of effective pharmacological therapies and the background for the identification of new pathological genetic variants. Their work in understanding the underlying mechanisms will moreover advance the overall understanding of the human brain.

Gaia Novarino has received numerous awards and prizes, including the Boehringer Ingelheim FENS (Federation of the European Neuroscience Societies) Research Award, the Knight Grand Cross and the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. She has been awarded a European Research Council Starting Grant and SFARI Pilot and Research Awards for her pioneering work. She was selected as a FENS-Kavli Scholar in 2016. 

Gil Costa

Gil Costa is a Scientific Designer and Illustrator with a background in Neuroscience. 

He obtained is PhD at the Universidade de Coimbra working at the Champalimaud Foundation. His research focused on the behavioural and neural mechanismsof decision making and confidence. After his PhD he started his career in visual communications at the Champalimaud Foundation as research graphic designer supporting scientists with their outreach and science communication activities as well as grant writing.

Notably, he created scientific illustrations for peer-reviewed journals including Nature Neuroscience and Neuron, he worked with several scientific institutions for the creation of logos, websites as well as promotional material for events and programmes. In 2019 he notably produced 25 infographics within the frame of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation exhibition “Brain – wider than the sky”, that attracted over 90000 visitors. Since then, he has moved to Brussels and has been working as a freelancer with neuroscientists from all over the world. 

Irene Tracy

Dr Irene Tracey, current President of FENS, is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, where she also teaches Anaesthetic Neuroscience.

After her undergraduate and graduate studies at Oxford, she held a postdoctoral position at Harvard Medical School applying magnetic spectroscopy techniques to understand AIDS Dementia Complex.

She later returned to Oxford, where she was co-founder of the Oxford Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB), later renamed the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging.

In the following years, she continued her career at Oxford, where she became Head of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Warden of Merton College, and Vice-Chancellor of the University.

Tracey’s research focuses on investigating how key regions of the human brain give rise to pain and establish more reliable ways of quantifying what has always been considered a highly subjective experience.

Liset Menendez de la Prida

Liset M de la Prida, a Physics graduate in 1994 with a PhD from the Institute of Neuroscience in 1998, directs the lab at the Instituto Cajal since 2008. Her lab focuses on understanding hippocampal and para-hippocampal circuits. An internationally renowned expert and multi-awards winner, she studies physiological ripples and epileptic fast ripples, developing groundbreaking electrophysiological tools.

Balázs Hangya 

Balázs Hangya heads the Lendület Lab of Systems Neuroscience at the Institute of Experimental Medicine in Budapest. Trained at Semmelweis University, Budapest, he earned his MD in 2006 and his PhD in 2010 in Neuroscience, focusing on neural mechanisms of hippocampal and neocortical oscillations. Post-PhD, Hangya spent over four years in the U.S. as a postdoctoral researcher. His research centers on neuromodulatory control of cognitive functions.

Michele Simonato

Dr Michele Simonato received his M.D. at the University of Ferrara in 1983 and specialised in Clinical Toxicology at the University of Florence in 1987. He is currently a full Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Ferrara, Director of the Programme of Clinical Pharmacology of the Sant’Anna Hospital of Ferrara and Group Leader at the Division of Neuroscience of the San Raffaele Hospital of Milan, Italy. He authored more than 150 papers in peer-reviewed international journals. His main research interests are on the identification of biomarkers and treatments to prevent epilepsy development in at-risk individuals and on the development of gene and cell therapy approaches for the treatment of drug-resistant focal epilepsies.


Ewelina Knapska

Dr Ewelina Knapska has been a group leader at the Nencki Institute in Warsaw since 2012. In 2013, she was promoted to Professor of the Institute and since 2018 she has been vice-president of the Centre of Excellence for Neural Plasticity and Brain Disorders (BRAINCITY). Her research aims to understand the neural circuit mechanisms controlling social interaction and processing of social information. She was one of the first to describe sharing others’ emotions and their brain correlates in rodents. This discovery has started a new line of research on the brain mechanisms underlying socially transferred emotions and social learning.

Anna Mitchell

Anna Mitchell is an Associate Professor in Behavioural Neuroscience at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Before moving back to New Zealand in 2022, she was an Associate Professor, Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow, and Head of the Thalamus, Cortex, and Cognition Laboratory in the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, UK. Anna and her team investigate contributions of the dorsal thalamus and interconnected structures in health and diseases using animal models and humans, focusing on the neurobiology of learning and decision-making. Anna has been a board member of Understanding Animal Research in the UK and on the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies Committee for Animals in Research (CARE).

John Foxe

John Foxe is the Kilian J. and Caroline F. Schmitt Chair in Neuroscience, Director of The Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience, and serves as Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at The University of Rochester. His research investigates the neurobiological bases of neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric conditions such as Autism and Schizophrenia. He uses electrophysiological and neuroimaging techniques to understand how inputs from the various sensory systems are combined in the brain and what happens when these multisensory integration abilities are impacted by the disease. He is the editor-in-chief of the European Journal of Neuroscience (EJN), FENS journal.

Kanaka Rajan

Kanaka Rajan, PhD, is a Computational Neuroscientist and Associate Professor at the Friedman Brain Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, US. Her research seeks to understand how important cognitive functions — such as learning, remembering, and deciding — emerge from the cooperative activity of multi-scale neural processes. Using data from neuroscience experiments, Kanaka applies computational frameworks derived from machine learning and statistical physics to uncover integrative theories about the brain that bridge neurobiology and artificial intelligence.

Kevin Mitchell

Kevin Mitchell is an Associate Professor of Genetics and Neuroscience at Trinity College Dublin. He is interested in the relations between genes, brains, and minds. He is the author of “INNATE – How the Wiring of Our Brains Shapes Who We Are” (Princeton University Press, 2018) and manages the Wiring the Brain blog (@WiringtheBrain on Twitter). His new book, “FREE AGENTS – How Evolution Created the Power to Choose”, will be published by Princeton University Press in 2023.

Inês Araújo

Inês Araújo is co-director of the Algarve Biomedical Center Research Institute and a tenured Associate Professor of Neuroscience at the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Algarve. Inês Araújo is a member of the Portuguese Society of Neurosciences and the Portuguese Society of Stem Cells and Cell Therapy. She was distinguished with the L’Óreal Medal of Honor for Women in Science in 2005 and by Ciência Viva “Women in Science” project in 2021

Roser Bastida Barau

Roser Bastida Barau is a pharmacist specialising in science communication. She has worked at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona writing press releases and organising outreach activities focused on neuroscience. She received a grant for The Brain Awareness Week 2023 from FENS and the Dana Foundation for “Connections. Explore yourself from the bottom to the top”.

Adrian Bird

Dr Adrian Bird’s research focuses on the basic biology of DNA methylation and other epigenetic processes. He identified CpG islands as gene markers in the vertebrate genome and discovered proteins that read the DNA methylation signal to influence chromatin structure and gene expression. His laboratory established the first mouse model of this condition and showed that the severe neurological phenotype is reversible, raising the possibility that Rett syndrome can be cured.

Rosa Paolicelli

Dr Rosa Paolicelli is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Physiology, University of Lausanne (CH), where she established her lab on microglia biology, focusing on the molecular mechanisms regulating microglia-synapse interaction in physiological and pathological contexts.

Anne Roumier

Dr Anne Roumier co-leads the “Serotonin, Microglia and Plasticity” team at the Institut du Fer à Moulin (FR). Her research projects focus on the acuteand long-term effects of serotonin on microglia and on understanding how disruption of this regulation impacts neuronal wiring, synaptic plasticity, and behaviour.