This year’s Boehringer Ingelheim FENS Award was granted to Judit Makara from the Institute of Experimental Medicine of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest, Hungary.
The biannual Boehringer Ingelheim FENS Research Award is endowed with 25 000 Euro in recognition of outstanding research of young scientists in the field of neuroscience. The award is presented in Milan during the 9th Forum of European Neuroscience 2014 (July 5 – 9, 2014). The prize winner will give a plenary lecture at the meeting.
Judit Makara’s scientific interest has been on the understanding of the mechanisms that determine responses of individual nerve cells and neuronal circuits when their internal and external environment changes. Her particular research focus hereby lies in the elucidation of the local properties of the receiving (dendritic) end of the communicating nerve cells. By combining state of the art two-photon microscopy andimaging, electrophysiology and optogenetic techniques, she was able to identify the underlying dendritic mechanisms determining the response of neurons to patterns of stimulated nerve connections and ultimately detected certain activity patterns of the nerve connections.
The goal is to understand how modulation of these dendritic properties influences information coding in the hippocampus, a brain structure involved in memory formation and learning.
Judit Makara is a medical doctor with a PhD in cellular physiology at the lab of Prof. András Spät at the Department of Physiology of the Semmelweis Medical University in Budapest, Hungary. Between 2003-2006 she worked as a postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Tamás Freund. Subsequently, she spent five years at Janelia Farm Research Campus working in the scientific group of Dr. Jeff Magee. In 2011 she returned to her home country Hungary, where she established her own research group at the Institute of Experimental Medicine of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest.
Her working group investigates the regulation of local interactions and integration of synaptic inputs in nerve cells (pyramidal neurons) at the hippocampus. The group explores the role of these effects in the generation of functional neuronal ensembles.
“We are proud of having the opportunity to honour outstanding research of young scientists in Neuroscience for the seventh time now. Judit Makara’s work could contribute to revolutionising our understanding of the complexities of the human brain and propel forward medical developments. It is a pleasure to honour her with the Boehringer Ingelheim FENS Research Award.” said Bernd Sommer, Vice President of Neuroscience Research at Boehringer Ingelheim.
“This recognition is both reassuring and encouraging to continue my research efforts to contribute to our understanding of neuronal functions. We will hopefully one day understand the process of neuronal information encoding and the underlying cellular structures far better and may ultimately be able to explain how learning and comprehension occurs. ” said Dr. Makara receiving the Award Certificate.