This past April, we were supposed to hold the 2010 Roche – Nature Medicine Translational Neuroscience Symposium “”http://www.nature.com/natureconferences/tns2010/index.html">Innovative Translational Approaches to Brain Disorders" in Buonas, Switzerland.
Unfortunately, we had to cancel the event because of the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano, the eruption of which made it impossible for many speakers and delegates to attend.
Last week, however, we got together at the Roche offices in Basel for a mini-symposium on the same topic, the goals of which were to reinforce our committment to this meeting series and to honor the recipients of the Roche – Nature Medicine Awards for Translational Neuroscience 2010, which we were supposed to present to the winners back in April.
The Junior Award recognizes a researcher at the doctoral, post-doctoral level or who has been an independent investigator for a maximum of seven years. This year, the recipient was Dr. Feng Zhang, from Harvard University, in recognition of his pioneering work in the field of optogenetics — a powerful tool to study the function of neural circuits. He is shown in the picture receiving his Award from Eric Prinssen (from CNS Research at Roche and co-organizer of the meeting).
The Senior Award recognizes an established investigator in the field of translational neuroscience who has developed novel technologies that enable the modelling, detection or treatment of CNS disorders. It was very difficult to select one winner in what turned out to be a very strong field. The Award was therefore shared by John Donoghue, from Brown University, and Helen Mayberg, from Emory University.
John Donoghue has made profound contributions to the development of brain-machine interfaces to improve the quality of life of people with spinal-cord injury, stroke and other conditions that affect the motor system. In the picture, he is receiving the Award from the hands of Paulo Fontoura, Head of Translational Medicine CNS at Roche.
Helen Mayberg has introduced a novel approach to fight treatment-resistant depression — deep-brain stimulation of the cingulate cortex. Her pioneering work on this condition has generated a lot of excitement in the field. Here she is receiving the Award from Gabriel Vargas, Head of the CNS Clinical Biomarker Group at Roche.
The three winners gave excellent talks in which they presented an overview of their work and a vision for the future of their respective disciplines.
In all, the mini-symposium was a very inspiring event that made up for some of the disappointment at having missed the opportunity to hear all the speakers back in the spring. At the same time, this gathering reinforced our conviction that this is a wonderful meeting series, which must continue in the coming years. Keep an eye out for future announcements in the Nature Medicine website