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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.
Alex L. Kolodkin, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and Charles J. Homcy and Simeon G. Margolis Professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, received the 2016 Pradel Research Award.
As an organism develops, grows, and ages, neurons in its nervous system proliferate and make connections with each other so that they can talk to each other, send information from cell to cell, and store memories. Kolodkin investigates how these connections form and are maintained in both insect and mammal models. He has long sought to understand the identity and function of the critical guidance cues that control neural circuit establishment and to understand the underlying intracellular signaling cascades that are regulated by these cues. As a postdoc, he discovered the first member of the large semaphorin family of proteins, which includes membrane and secreted proteins that guide axon growth. Due to Kolodkin’s work investigating the functions of these proteins, semaphorins are now recognized as one of the most important families of axon guidance cues and they are known to play critical roles in adult nervous system function and plasticity, neural regeneration, cancer cell proliferation and metastasis, immune system responses, and a range of other functions. More recently, Kolodkin addressed the longstanding mystery of how synaptic laminae, a key architectural feature of many neural systems, are specified during development. In elegant and rigorous mouse experiments, he showed that repulsive guidance plays a critical role in directing retinal lamination and in orchestrating connectivity between retinal ganglion cells and their targets in the brain. Such discoveries have transformed our understanding of how developing neural circuits assemble.
Alex L. Kolodkin (2016)
For his pioneering work on neuronal development research relating to the establishment of neuronal connectivity. He is known for his work on neuronal guidance cues and their receptors, the discovery of semaphorins, and unveiling guidance cue roles in neural circuit assembly and function in insects and mammals.
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.