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Study of the Brain Wins Eppendorf/Science Prize
Michael Ehlers of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., has been awarded the 2003 international Prize in Neurobiology by the journal Science and Eppendorf. He is being recognized for his exploration of the protein machinery that stores information in the brain.
The Eppendorf & Science Prize in Neurobiology recognizes outstanding neurobiological research by a young scientist, as described in a 1,000-word essay based on research performed during the past three years. The grand prize winner receives $25,000 from Eppendorf, and the winner's essay will be published in the 31 October 2003 issue of Science.
Three finalist essays will be published at Science Online. The awardee and finalists will be recognized at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in November.
Proteins found at connection points between neurons in the brain change structurally when they process and store information. Such connection points are called synapses, and in his essay, "Ubiquitin and the Deconstruction of Synapses," Ehlers explains the molecular basis for these modifications. His research has revealed sets of interconnected protein networks that are added or removed in just a few hours. These findings indicate that the proteins in neurons important for learning and memory are replaced or reorganized multiple times a day despite memories that last for decades. Malfunction of this protein machinery might well play a fundamental role in the pathology of neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.
Ehlers grew up in Grand Island, Neb., and earned his bachelor's degree from the California Institute of Technology. He received his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he also conducted postdoctoral research. He is currently assistant professor of neurobiology and director of the Neuroproteomics Laboratory at Duke University. Ehlers is the recipient of numerous awards in neuroscience, and he is a scholar of the Ruth K. Broad Foundation.
The finalists are:
Karel Svoboda of Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., for his essay, "Imaging Experience-Dependent Synaptic Plasticity in the Adult Neocortex in Vivo." Originally from the Czech Republic and Germany, he received his bachelor's degree in physics from Cornell University and his Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University. He pursued postdoctoral work at Bell Laboratories and now works at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
Satchin Panda of San Diego, Calif., for his essay, "Shedding Light on Non-Image Forming Photoperception in Mammals." Born and raised in India, Panda received his Ph.D. from the Scripps Research Institute and did postdoctoral research at the Genomics Institute of Novartis Research Foundation, where he currently works.
Rudolf Cardinal, of Cambridge, U.K., for his essay, "Succumbing to Instant Gratification without the Nucleus Accumbens." He studied medical sciences and neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, where he received his bachelor's degree and Ph.D. He has worked as an in-house physician and surgeon at hospitals in East Anglia; he is now a neuroscience lecturer at Cambridge.
30 October 2003