Summary

Scientist at Janelia Research Campus wins The Brain Prize for helping to develop a tool that advances our understanding of how the brain's networks process information.

Highlights

  • Two-photon microscopy combines advanced techniques from physics and biology, to allow scientists to examine the finest structures of the brain, in real time. 
  • Using this revolutionary technology, researchers are now able to examine the function of individual nerve cells with high precision, especially how nerve cells communicate with each other in networks.
  • It has led to identification of signaling pathways that control communication between nerve cells and provide the basis for memory,  

Karel Svoboda, group leader at HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus, is one of four scientists awarded The Brain Prize for the invention and development of two-photon microscopy, a transformative tool in brain research.

Svoboda shares the Brain Prize with Winfried Denk of the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research and senior fellow at Janelia; David Tank of Princeton University and a member of the Janelia Advisory Committee; and Arthur Konnerth of the Institute for Neuroscience at the Technical University Munich. The four will split the roughly $1.1 million award.

“Karel was the first neurobiologist recruited to Janelia and he has been a key force in Janelia’s intellectual development,” said Gerald Rubin, executive director of Janelia and vice president at HHMI. “It is great to see his achievements recognized by this prize.”

The Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Foundation awards the prize to one or more scientists who have distinguished themselves by an outstanding contribution to European neuroscience and who are still active in research. The Brain Prize recognizes highly original and influential advances in any area of neuroscience.

Two-photon microscopy is one of a handful of techniques that have dramatically changed the way scientists study the brain. It combines advanced techniques from physics and biology, to allow scientists to examine the finest structures of the brain, in real time.

Using this revolutionary technology, researchers are now able to examine the function of individual nerve cells with high precision, especially how nerve cells communicate with each other in networks. This is a huge advance in the understanding of the physical mechanisms of the human brain and in the understanding of how the brain's networks process information. Furthermore, researchers have been able to follow how connections between nerve cells are established in the developing brain.

It has led to identification of signaling pathways that control communication between nerve cells and provide the basis for memory, and it has enabled the study of nerve cell activity in those networks that controls vision, hearing and movement.

"Thanks to these four scientists we're now able to study the normal brain's development and attempt to understand what goes wrong when we're affected by destructive diseases such as Alzheimer's and other types of dementia,” said Professor Povl Krogsgaard-Larsen, Chair of Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Foundation. “More than that, we are able to visualize how adaptive behavioral changes affect the nerve cells of living animals.”

For more information, please see: http://www.thebrainprize.org/flx/prize_winners/

Scientist Profiles

For More Information

Jim Keeley 301.215.8858 keeleyj@hhmi.org