Fellow Prof Holt wins world’s top neuroscience award

  • 23 March 2023

Gonville & Caius College Fellow Professor Christine Holt FMedSci, FRS is the joint recipient of The Brain Prize 2023, the world’s largest award for outstanding contributions to neuroscience.

The Brain Prize, which is considered the world’s most significant prize for brain research, includes approximately €1.3 million (around £1.15m) to be shared by the three recipients. The prize is awarded annually by the Danish Lundbeck Foundation to researchers who have made highly original and influential discoveries in brain research.

Christine shares the award with two other neuroscientists, Professor Erin Schuman at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, and Professor Michael Greenberg at Harvard Medical School, for critical insights into the molecular mechanisms of brain development and plasticity.

“Receiving the Brain Prize is an honour beyond my wildest dreams, and I’m absolutely delighted,” said Christine, Professor of Developmental Neuroscience in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge.

“It’s an incredible recognition of the work that we have been doing over the last 40 years.”

A profound aspect of our nervous system is that during development and adulthood our brains are subject to extensive change, known as neural plasticity. Collectively, the scientists have made significant advances in unveiling the cellular and molecular mechanisms that enable the brain to develop, and to restructure itself in response to external stimuli as it adapts, learns, and even recovers from injury.

“Our work has revealed the surprisingly fast and precise mechanism by which brains ‘wire-up’ during development, and actively maintain their wiring throughout life,” Christine added.

“This provides key insights into the causes of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases. Fundamental knowledge of this sort is essential for developing clinical therapies in nerve repair.”

Since it was first awarded in 2011 The Brain Prize has been awarded to 44 scientists from 9 different countries. Recipients are presented with their award by His Royal Highness, The Crown Prince of Denmark, at a ceremony in the Danish capital, Copenhagen.

“It is such a great honour to share the prize with Erin Schuman and Mike Greenberg,” Christine added.

“Their beautiful work has been an inspiration to me over the years. It’s been an exciting journey of discovery that may eventually lead to advances in therapies for neurodegenerative disease and neural repair. Thank you most sincerely to the Lundbeck Foundation.”

Read the full media release on the University of Cambridge website.

Christine last year was awarded the 52nd Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research.

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