Silvia Arber is a Swiss neuroscientist recognized for her work on the organization and function of neuronal circuits controlling movement. Arber was born and grew up in Switzerland. She studied biology at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, Switzerland and obtained her Ph.D. working in the laboratory of Pico Caroni at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research (FMI) in Basel in 1996. She then pursued a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Thomas Jessell at Columbia University in New York, where she delineated mechanisms important for motor neuron identity and sensory synaptic input specificity. Arber returned to Basel in 2000 to establish her independent research group at the Biozentrum and the FMI, where she has been examining how neuronal circuits in the spinal cord and brain develop and control body movement. She has been recognized for her pioneering research with numerous prizes, including the Pfizer Research Prize (1998), the Latsis Prize (2003), the Schellenberg Prize (2003), the Friedrich Miescher Award (2008), the Otto Nägeli Award (2014), the Louis Jeantet Prize for Medicine (2017) and the NAS Pradel Research Award (2018), the Louis Jeantet Prize for Medicine (2017), the NAS Pradel Research Award (2018), and the Brain Prize (2022).

Research Interests

Silvia Arber's laboratory is interested in the identification of principles by which neuronal circuits orchestrate accurate and timely control of motor behavior. The work addresses how the nervous system can produce a large repertoire of movement patterns, covering diverse motor actions from locomotion to skilled forelimb tasks. To decipher how motor circuits engage in the control of movement and contribute to the generation of diverse actions, the group unravels how neuronal subpopulations are organized into specific circuits, and studies the function of identified circuits in execution and learning of motor programs. Using multi-facetted approaches combining many technologies, they study nervous-system wide neuronal circuits involved in motor control, including how brain circuits interact with executive circuits in the spinal cord to produce and regulated body movements. The work also aims at the discovery of mechanisms involved in motor circuit assembly during development, as well as circuit plasticity during motor learning and in response to disease or injury.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 24: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Secondary Section

Section 28: Systems Neuroscience