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International award goes to researcher

The 19th annual Neuronal Plasticity Prize was awarded to MUSC’s Peter Kalivas, Ph.D., and two other leading international scientists for their research in the domain of molecular targets of drug abuse.
The other scientists receiving the award were Jean-Pierre Changeux of the College de France and Institut Pasteur, Paris; and Eric J. Nestler of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSMC) at Dallas.
The EUR 60,000 (about $94,226) prize was awarded July 14 at the 6th Forum of the European Neuroscience Societies in Geneva, Switzerland, by an international jury led by Wolf Singer, M.D., of the Max-Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt, Germany.
“I am delighted to announce Jean-Pierre Changeux, Peter Kalivas and Eric Nestler as just winners of this prize. The voting panel were impressed with the quality of their research in this area,” Singer said. “The Neuronal Plasticity Prize is recognized as a symbol of excellence within neurological research. It has been awarded to some of the best specialists in the field in its 19-year history, and we are delighted to add Jean-Pierre Changeux, Peter Kalivas and Eric Nestler to this distinguished list, in acknowledgment of their achievements.”

About the winners
  • Kalivas is a professor and chair in MUSC’s Department of Neurosciences. He is best known for his work to elucidate the molecular adaptations and neurocircuitry that underlie addiction, with a focus on characterizing the neuro-plasticity produced by chronic use of addictive drugs in the prefrontal cortex and its glutamatergic projections to the striatum. This work has characterized the involvement of certain proteins in the postsynaptic density in regulating addictive behaviors, such as NAC-1, Homer and AGS3. Moreover, the drug-induced neuroplasticity in glutamate transmission has become a source of potential pharmacotherapeutic targets for treating addiction, including the cystine-glutamate exchanger, glutamate transporter and metabotropic glutamate receptors.
  • Changeux is emeritus professor at the Pasteur Institute and at the College de France in Paris. He conducts studies on the experimental basis and theoretical foundations of allosteric interactions between topographically distinct sites in proteins, and subsequently identifies the first protein receptor of a neurotransmitter—the nicotinic receptor of acetylcholine—and contributes to the understanding of its role in higher brain functions.
  • Nestler is the Lou and Ellen McGinley Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry at UTSMC and a member of the Institute of Medicine and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He elucidated the effects of several transcription factors on the mechanisms of addiction.
Established in 1983 under the aegis of the Fondation de France, the mission of La Fondation Ipsen is to contribute to the development and dissemination of scientific knowledge. Its mission is to durably encourage interaction between research scientists and clinicians. The ambition of La Fondation Ipsen is to trigger debate on major scientific challenges for years to come. It has developed an important international network of scientific experts who meet regularly at meetings known as Colloques Medecine et Recherche. Six main themes are: Alzheimer’s disease, neurosciences, longevity, endocrinology, the vascular tree and oncology.
In 2007, La Fondation Ipsen started three new series of meetings in partnership with Nature and the Salk Institute Biological Complexity, Nature Emergence and Convergence, Cell and the Massachusetts General Hospital Exciting Biologies. Since its beginning, La Fondation Ipsen has organized more than 73 international conferences, published 65 volumes with renowned publishers and 199 issues of Alzheimer Actualites. It has also awarded dozens of prizes and grants.

Friday, July 25, 2008
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