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Celebrating the Inaugural Honorees of the Innovators in Science Award Adria Martig, PhD, NYAS Staff In November 2016, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited and the New York Academy of Sciences launched a new award program to recognize and celebrate disruptive and transformative research conducted by promising Early-Career Scientists and outstanding Senior Scientists across the globe working in the areas of neuroscience, gastroenterology, oncology and regenerative medicine. Two prizes of $200,000 will be awarded each year, one to an Early-Career Scientist and the other to a Senior Scientist who have distinguished themselves for the creative thinking and impact of their research. All Award Winners and Finalists will receive a medal and will be invited to present their work as Distinguished Speakers at a symposium featuring their accomplishments.

SENIOR SCIENTIST WINNER Shigetada Nakanishi, MD, PhD, Director, Suntory Foundation for Life Sciences Bioorganic Research Institute, Kyoto, Japan Dr. Nakanishi devoted his career to the molecular analysis of cellular messenger systems and their role in regulating neural networks. Using DNA technology, electrophysiological tools and Xenopus oocyte expression systems, Dr. Nakanishi identified the molecular structure and function of G-protein coupled, NMDA and glutamate receptors. This fundamental work accelerated the identification of novel membrane receptors and paved the way for development of elegant methods to understand how receptors contribute to synaptic function.

Following are the first Winners and Finalists of this extraordinary prize. They were selected from 170 nominations from 114 research institutions across 28 countries. Takeda Pharmaceutical Company and the New York Academy of Sciences salute these exceptional scientists whose exemplary work will be recognized at an Award Ceremony and Symposium to be held at the Academy in November, 2017.     

SENIOR SCIENTIST FINALISTS Ben Barres, MD, PhD, Professor of Neurobiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA Dr. Barres pioneered the field of neuron-glia interactions and made seminal contributions to understanding the role of microglia and astrocytes in synaptic pruning and synapse formation in the brain. In addition, he developed widely used methods to purify and culture neuronal cells and established principles of CNS myelination. In more recent work, Dr. Barres investigated the role of reactive astrocytes in CNS injury and disease, providing new insights into potential therapeutic interventions for neurodegeneration. David Julius, PhD, Professor of Physiology, University of California, San Francisco, USA Dr. Julius is recognized for his research on molecular mechanisms underlying somatosensation and pain. Using cutting edge genetic and molecular tools, he identified ion channels responsible for peripheral thermosensation. Dr. Julius found that these channels respond not only to heat and cold but to chemical signals as well, acting as molecular integrators of diverse modalities that regulate sensory neuron excitability under normal and pathophysiological conditions. In addition, he identified ion channel isoforms that contribute to unique sensory modalities such as infrared sensation and electroreception.


The New York Academy of Sciences Magazine, Fall 2017  

Imagining the Next 100 Years