FENS Voices is a communications initiative that focuses the spotlight on the FENS neuroscience community and its activities in Europe and beyond. Inspired by our community’s exceptional work and commitment, the interview series aims to amplify the voices and experiences of our members, highlight their impact and inspire and inform future neuroscientists, the public and interested groups about brain research. The series also serves to initiate dialogue and exchange within the neuroscience community.
FENS Voices | Elba Molpeceres Sierra: A strong motivation and a clear vision
6 December 2023. For this new episode of FENS Voices, we’re thrilled to bring you the inspiring journey of Elba Molpeceres Sierra, PhD student at the Institute of Neurodegenerative Diseases at Bordeaux Neurocampus and NENS exchange grant (now FENS/IBRO-PERC Exchange Fellowships Programme) awardee. This grant enabled her to conduct her MSc thesis at the University of Oxford in Richard Wade-Martins laboratory, a world-leading laboratory in Parkinson’s disease. She hopes that her work will contribute to the understanding of the circuitry underlying Parkinson’s disease and to the future development of improved therapeutic strategies.
20 October 2023. FENS Voices was delighted to catch up with Arish Mudra Rakshasa-Loots, the winner of the ALBA-FKNE Diversity Prize 2023, about his work toward reducing HIV-related healthcare inequities and promoting gender, ethnic and regional diversity in mental healthcare, research and teaching. Arish is a neuroscientist, educator, and activist. He is currently completing a PhD in Translational Neuroscience, funded by the Wellcome Trust. Arish is primarily interested in how neuroscience can help address the prevalence of mental health issues amongst people living with HIV. Arish holds a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, through which he worked with grassroots HIV/AIDS movements around the world, and a BA in Liberal Arts from Earlham College (USA), where he studied Biochemistry, Neuroscience, and Ancient & Classical Studies. He aspires to train the next generation of conscientious scientists in neuroscience and global health.
FENS Voices | Liset M. de la Prida: A sense of community
22 September 2023. As the FENS Forum 2024 programme is coming into focus, FENS Voices thought it was a good time to find out more about our Programme Committee Chair, Dr Liset M. de la Prida, and what to expect next year in Vienna (25-29 June). Dr de la Prida graduated in Physics in 1994 and received her PhD from the Institute of Neuroscience in Alicante in 1998. After completing her postdoc alongside Prof. Richard Miles in Paris, she became Lab Director at the Instituto Cajal in 2008. She is the recipient of numerous awards and has earned prestigious fellowships and grants from EMBO, HFSP and the European Commission under different framework programmes. The main goal of her lab is to understand the function of hippocampal and parahippocampal circuits. She is a leading international expert in the study of the basic mechanisms of physiological ripples and epileptic fast ripples, with strong visibility as a developer of novel groundbreaking neurotechnologies. Dr de la Prida serves as an Editor for specialised journals such as the Journal of Neuroscience Methods, eLife and eNeuro and has commissioning duties in the American Epilepsy Society (Task Force Working Groups) and the Spanish Society of Neuroscience.
FENS Voices | Oded Rechavi: Elegant experiments and unconventional angles
18 August 2023. FENS was excited to connect with FENS member Oded Rechavi about his mission “to challenge fundamental long-held dogmas.” Dr Rechavi is a full professor in the Faculty of Life Sciences at Tel Aviv University. He used Caenorhabditis elegans nematodes to provide direct evidence that an acquired trait can be inherited. He worked to elucidate the mechanism and rules of small RNA–mediated transgenerational inheritance, discovered that nematode brains can control the behaviour of their progeny and identified a simple neuronal circuit–level mechanism that explains economic irrationality.
FENS Voices | Annalisa Savardi: A cross-disciplinary journey – from biotechnology and neurobiology to drug discovery
21 July 2023. In this edition of FENS Voices, we found out about Dr Annalisa Savardi‘s latest research findings and why FENS Forum 2024 is important for an early career researcher. Dr Savardi obtained her BSc in Medical Biotechnology at the University of Milan (Italy), which was followed by an MSc Neurobiology at the University of Pavia (Italy). Her thesis was on the role of the synapse protein SNAP-25 in neurological disorders, and she worked under the supervision of Professor Michela Matteoli (Humanitas Institute). Annalisa has a strong background in neurobiology, pharmacology, behavioural, biochemistry and cell biology techniques, with 8 years of experience in CNS drug discovery.
FENS Voices | Carl Petersen: Forging new ideas
30 June 2023. FENS was delighted to chat with Dr Carl Petersen, co-chair (with Dr Brian McCabe) of the first FENS-Chen Institute-NeuroLéman Summer School on Motor Control, to find out more about this exciting new school. Dr Petersen initially studied physics as a bachelor student at the University of Oxford (1989-1992). During his PhD studies, under the supervision of Prof. Sir Michael Berridge at the University of Cambridge (1992-1996), he investigated cellular and molecular mechanisms of calcium signalling. Dr Petersen joined the Brain Mind Institute of the Faculty of Life Sciences at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in 2003, setting up the Laboratory of Sensory Processing to investigate the functional operation of neuronal circuits in awake mice during quantified behaviour.
FENS Voices | Jonathan Roiser: Broadening horizons
23 June 2023. FENS had the pleasure of talking to Dr Jonathan Roiser, the co-chair of the FENS-Hertie Winter School on “Neuroscience of Mental Health”, alongside Patrizia Campolongo (IT) and Carmen Sandi (CH), about this high-level event taking place in Obergurgl, Austria, from 3-9 December 2023. Dr Roiser is Professor of Neuroscience and Mental Health and Deputy Director at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. His research interests lie in understanding the brain and psychological processes driving mental health problems, especially disrupted motivation in depression. He has published over 150 peer-reviewed papers and his recent research has been funded by Wellcome, the Leverhulme Trust and the Rosetrees Trust. Read the full interview below.
Vidita Vaidya: Longing for home
9 June 2023. FENS recently talked to Dr Vidita Vaidya about her role as a Senior Editor for the European Journal of Neuroscience (EJN), the official journal of FENS. Her research group is interested in understanding the neurocircuitry of emotion, its modulation by life experience and by psychoactive compounds, in particular serotonergic psychedelics. She received the National Bioscientist Award from the Government of India in 2012, the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize in Medical Sciences in 2015, the Nature Award for Mentorship from India in the mid-career category in 2019, and the Infosys Prize in Life-Sciences in 2022. She is committed to working to enhance equity and inclusion in academic spaces, and is passionate about science communication and outreach.
Ann Van der Jeugd: Always remain curious!
26 May 2023. FENS Voices caught up with Dr Ann Van der Jeugd, a FENS member and a Brain Awareness Week event organiser from Leuven (BE) and the Leuven Brain Institute Programme Manager, helping to unite all neuroscience research at KU Leuven in order to advance our understanding of the brain, both normal and diseased. She is a board member of the Belgian Brain Council, with a mission to inform the people about the brain and its disorders, to lobby for an increase of financial and other resources for basic and clinical neuroscience research, and to promote patients’ empowerment in the management of brain disorders and related public health policies.
Amir Jahanian Najafabadi: AI neuroscience and personalised treatments
12 May 2023. FENS Voices reconnected with FENS Forum 2022 Social Media Ambassador Dr Amir Jahanian Najafabadi, to find out about his recent work and experience at last year’s Forum. Amir is a postdoctoral researcher in interdisciplinary neuroscience in the Department of Cognitive Neuroscience at Bielefeld University (DE), working alongside Prof. Christoph Kayser. In addition to a decade of broad clinical and research experiences, he has been teaching students, medical professionals and psychologists. Read the full interview below.
Clévio Nóbrega: Putting Algarve on the neuroscience map
21 April 2023. With the FENS Regional Meeting 2023 just around the corner, FENS Voices wanted to reach out to #FRM2023 Chair Dr Clévio Nóbrega, to find out more about his background and what everyone should expect from the big event set to take place in Algarve, Portugal, from 3-5 May. Dr Nóbrega then joined the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Algarve as a tenure track Assistant Professor, where he currently serves as a Principal Investigator, leading a research group at the Algarve Biomedical Centre Research Institute, while also being the Director of the same institute.
Daniela Domingues: Science around a pint
7 April 2023. FENS reached out to FENS Forum 2022 Social Media Ambassador Daniela Domingues, who is currently the President of Pint of Science Portugal, a Social Ambassador for Science Rehashed and a strong advocate for open science and diversity in STEM. Daniela is a PhD student in the lab of Eric Burguière at the Paris Brain Institute in France, where she is investigating the neural circuits modulated by LSD in the context of flexibility using a mouse model of OCD. Her scientific interests are always evolving but one constant is her passion for translational cognitive systems neuroscience.
Ioana R. Podina: The joy of sharing brain research
17 March 2023. As Brain Awareness Week 2023 celebrates brain research this month, FENS invited Dr Ioana R. Podina to talk about the fifth edition of “My Curious Brain”, her FENS-Dana BAW project. Dr Podina is an Associate Professor at the University of Bucharest, at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, within the Department of Applied Psychology and Psychotherapy.
Kimberlei Richardson: If you can see it, then you can be it
3 March 2023. As a new section editor for the European Journal of Neuroscience (EJN), the official journal of FENS, Dr Kimberlei Richardson (US) plays a critical role in supporting the neuroscience community in disseminating rigorous, peer-reviewed discovery research on the brain and central nervous system. Dr Richardson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at Howard University College of Medicine, and has received numerous awards including the RCMI Faculty Scholars award, Grass Foundation Fellowship and the American Psychological Association Neuroscience Fellowship.
Havva Demir: Neuroscience heals
17 February 2023. FENS had the pleasure of talking to Havva Demir, a FENS member based in Turkey, who first studied Dentistry at Yeditepe University. After working as a dentist for a while, she decided to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience, researching better treatment options for trigeminal neuralgia patients through animal studies. She received a grant for The Brain Awareness Week 2023 from FENS and the Dana Foundation for The Brain Fair Istanbul, her project aimed at middle and high school students. She also loves painting in watercolour, studying literature and even manages a blog.
Alisha Vabba: Bridging domains
3 February 2023. FENS interviewed Dr Alisha Vabba to find out more about her research and the impact of the NENS grant that she received in 2021. Currently, Alisha is a postdoctoral researcher at the Italian Institute of Technology, where she investigates the role of the body in moral behaviour, using a combination of physiological recording and stimulation methods. In the near future, she hopes to gain more experience in using immersive virtual reality as an experimental means to induce bodily illusions and recreate complex social scenarios.
Flavio Donato: Nothing great has ever been achieved without enthusiasm
20 January 2023. FENS Voices continues to share community highlights by talking with Dr Flavio Donato, FENS member and Chair of the FENS Kavli Network of Excellence (FKNE). Dr Donato is interested in advocating for neuroscience and the support of early and mid-career researchers. His scientific work elucidates the processes that lead to the maturation of the entorhinal-hippocampal network, by showing that stellate cells in the entorhinal cortex provide an activity-dependent signal that drives the maturation of the transverse hippocampal circuit.
Patrycja Dzianok: Finding “The Force” in neuroscience
6 January 2023. FENS Voices begins 2023 by reconnecting with FENS member Patrycja Dzianok, a Polish neuroscientist who obtained a MSc in Cognitive Science and a BEng degree in Computer Science. She attended the FENS-Hertie Winter School in 2019 and is currently pursuing her PhD in Neurobiology at the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology PAS, in Poland. Her research focuses on the study of early biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease, and she was the recipient of the Polish National Science grant in 2018/2019. FENS has been proud to have supported her career goals and to feature her experiences and science here.
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