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NIMH Grantees Named Recipients of Prestigious Kavli Prize

Science Update

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) congratulates three NIMH grantees who have been named recipients of the 2016 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience.

Michael Merzenich from the University of California San Francisco, Eve Marder from Brandeis University, and Carla Shatz from Stanford University will receive the prize “for the discovery of mechanisms that allow experience and neural activity to remodel brain function.” Over the past 40 years, these three prize winners and NIMH grantees have challenged the notion that the brain is hard-wired and relatively inflexible and have “provided a convincing view of a far more flexible adult brain than previously thought possible – one that is ‘plastic,’ or capable of remodeling.”

The Kavli Prize for Neuroscience carries a cash award of $1 million and will be presented on September 6th in Oslo, Norway.

Michael Merzenich, Ph.D., is a neuroscientist at the University of California at San Francisco. Dr. Merzenich has been a pioneer in his research on the brain’s plasticity- its remarkable ability to rewire itself in response to new conditions. It is this capacity that underlies learning and offers the potential for retraining the brain in neurodevelopmental disorders and diseases, and after injuries that occur later in life.

Eve Marder, Ph.D., is a professor of biology at Brandeis University and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Marder’s lab focuses on the fundamental problems of understanding how circuit function arises from the intrinsic properties of individual neurons and their synaptic connections. Dr. Marder’s research on small neural circuits found in lobsters and crabs has revolutionized understanding of the fundamental nature of neuronal circuit operation.

Carla Shatz, Ph.D., is a professor of biology and neurobiology at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. Dr. Shatz’s work focuses on understanding how the brain’s wiring takes shape during development. Current research in the Shatz lab includes the study of the visual system of mammals, leading to the discovery that adult wiring emerges from dynamic interactions between neurons involving neural function and synaptic plasticity.

The Kavli Prize is a partnership between the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, The Kavli Foundation (USA), and the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. The Kavli Prizes were initiated by and named after Fred Kavli (1927-2013), founder of The Kavli Foundation, which is dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of humanity, promoting public understanding of scientific research, and supporting scientists and their work.