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The Pradel Research Award is presented annually to recognize mid-career neuroscientists whose work is making major contributions to our understanding of the nervous system. The recipient is presented with a $50,000 research award to an institution of their choice to support neuroscience research.
Catherine G. Dulac, investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Higgins Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University, is the recipient of the 2015 Pradel Research Award.
Dulac is being honored for her work on pheromone signaling in mammals. Dulac has studied the mouse vomeronasal organ (VNO) — a tiny structure at the base of the nasal cavity that senses pheromones — to explore how brains process pheromone signals and gain insight into brain function leading to specific social behaviors. She developed a method to identify the genes that were turned on in individual neurons and isolated a family of genes for VNO receptors associated with pheromones. She then investigated the role that pheromones play in social interactions between the sexes. Her work overturned the belief that the neuronal pathways that lead to mating begin in the VNO — they actually start in the olfactory system. Instead, Dulac discovered, the VNO helps males distinguish between males and females, and represses male behaviors in female mice and female behaviors in male mice. Dulac’s research group has also used their molecular toolbox to uncover the neurons responsible in mice for guiding male and female parental behavior.
Catherine G. Dulac (2015)
For her pioneering contributions to the molecular biology of pheromone signaling in mammals and discoveries of neural mechanisms underlying sex-specific social behaviors including mating, aggression and parenting.
Allison J. Doupe (2014)
For her groundbreaking work using song birds to reveal important features of how neural circuits process information and are shaped by experience.
Kenneth C. Catania (2013)
Dr. Catania is a pioneering neuroethologist who has carried out highly imaginative investigations of the neural basis of sensory behavior in model organisms. His comparative studies of mammals that possess specialized sensory capacities have led to discoveries of fundamental principles of behavior, sensory processing, and brain organization, and have resulted in new insights about the evolution of the nervous system.
Dora E. Angelaki (2012)
For her fundamental discoveries on mechanisms of representation of vestibular sensory stimuli within the mammalian brain.