Last week, long-time Dana Alliance member Pasko Rakic, M.D., Ph.D., was honored as the 2014 Child Mind Institute Distinguished Scientist at the organization’s annual On the Shoulders of Giants symposium. Held at Hunter University’s Roosevelt House (Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt called it home for many years), the symposium gave us the opportunity to hear from Rakic, as well as from one of his protégée’s, Nenad Sestan, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleague Matthew State, M.D., Ph.D.
Rakic began his scientific career in Belgrade, where he studied neurosurgery with plans to be a clinician. During his training he became fascinated with brain mapping and how different areas of the brain affected different body functions. This fascination lured him into research—and additional years of school—as he went for and completed his doctorate.
Now at Yale University, Rakic is known for his research in developmental neurobiology, and last week’s symposium focused on his work on neuronal migration and how it has contributed and continues to contribute to research on neuropsychiatric disorders. Read more about the specifics in write-ups from the Child Mind Institute and from Yale.
The event was also a chance to honor Rakic’s dedication to mentoring subsequent generations of researchers, including Dana Alliance members Carla Shatz, Ph.D., and Pat Levitt, Ph.D., and to acknowledge the importance of nurturing young scientists. In that vein, ten Rising Scientist Award recipients from New York high schools were also recognized and congratulated at the event.
Inspiring future neuroscientists is also something we at the Dana Foundation are passionate about. Many of our Brain Awareness Week partners focus on brain-based talks and activities for students K-12, and we offer event ideas and student-geared booklets and puzzles to aid in their outreach.
The Foundation’s Design a Brain Experiment competition for U.S. high school students also offers young people the opportunity to show off their neuroscience know-how and creativity as they’re challenged to develop original brain experiments (though not complete them) for a chance to win prizes for their schools or sponsoring nonprofit institution. Submissions are being accepted now through January 16; the top two winners will be announced during Brain Awareness Week (March 16-22, 2015).
–Ann L. Whitman