RECOGNITIONS: Baylor neuroscientist receives Eppendorf & Science Prize (BioTechniques)

Published: November 16, 2008

Neuroscience Prize winner Mauro Costa-Mattioli. Source: Eppendorf

Neuroscience 2008, Washington, DC, Nov. 16—Mauro Costa-Mattioli has won the 2008 Eppendorf & Science
Prize for Neurobiology. The Baylor College of Medicine researcher
studies long-term synaptic plasticity, learning, and memory. His
winning essay, “Switching memories ON and OFF”
(reprised in his award lecture, which was delivered in the auditorium
of AAAS headquarters), describes how control of protein synthesis
influences memory formation.

In particular, Costa-Mattioli demonstrated that phosphorylation of
the translation-initiation factor eIF2α acts as a memory switch in
mice; reducing eIF2α phosphorylation enhances long-lasting synaptic
changes and memory. Increasing phosphorylation in the hippocampus, on
the other hand, depresses memory formation.

Costa-Mattioli received his bachelor’s degree from the Uruguayan
University of the Republic in Montevideo, his masters from Pierre and
Marie Curie University in Paris, and his Ph.D. from the University of
Nantes, followed by a post-doc at McGill University in Montreal before
moving to his current post earlier this year.

There was a distinctly international flavor to this year’s awards, as Science
deputy editor Katrina Kelner remarked on during the presentations.
Claudio Hetz (University of Chile, Santiago) wrote on “Protein
misfolding disorders and endoplasmic reticulum stress signals,” and
Hendrikje Nienborg (National Eye Institute, Bethesda, MD) presented
“Visual perception: Interactions between sensory and decision
processes.” Nienborg earned her masters degree from Oxford University
and her M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Munich. Hetz received his
A.B. from the University of Chile, his Ph.D. from the Serono
Pharmaceutical Research Institute in Geneva, and completed a post-doc
at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard.

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