It is a great pleasure to report that during the 2021 Yale Commencement Ceremony three INP (Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program) graduates were honored for their achievements - Dr. Stefano Daniele, Dr. Maxwell Shinn and Dr. Leon Tejwani.
The Neuroscience Doctoral Thesis Prize was established in 2020 by Sandra and Charles Greer and is awarded annually to a graduate student in neuroscience whose Ph.D. thesis reflects the highest standards of scientific achievement. Awarded in 2021 to two graduates:
“Time as a Bridge from Brain to Behavior”
Dr. Shinn’s thesis focused on analysis and modeling of behavioral choice data and neuronal recordings from the frontal eye fields of monkeys. The task involved perceptual decision making with a major twist by having the stimulus start with zero-coherence noise and the onset of useful information occurring probabilistically at several times, which gives the monkey a prior expectation of evidence timing. Dr. Shinn’s research has led to major neuroscientific advances in understanding how timing expectation is used to inform decision making.
“Uncovering Novel Roles of Glia in Neurodegenerative Diseases”
Dr. Tejwani’s dissertation spanned the breadth of cellular and molecular neuroscience. In completing his Ph.D. thesis Dr. Tejwani led projects related to the molecular substrates of multiple neurological disorders including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, frontotemporal dementia and spinocerebellar ataxia, among others. He developed a seminal longitudinal single-cell atlas of the cerebellum in spinocerebellar ataxia and in doing so uncovered transformative insights that advance our understanding of disease pathogenesis.
The John Addison Porter Prize, named in honor of Professor John Addison Porter, B.A. 1842, is awarded for a work of scholarship in any field where it is possible, through original effort, to gather and relate facts or principles, or both, and to present the results in such a literary form as to make the project of general human interest. This prize is awarded by the Office of the Secretary of Yale University. The 2021 recipient is:
“Ex Vivo Normothermic Restoration of Circulation and Cellular Functions in the Large Mammalian Brain Hours Postmortem”
Dr. Daniele’s thesis focused on the resilience of the mammalian brain. Brains need blood and without it, cells quickly die. Or so we thought. Dr. Daniele asked if it is possible to restore circulation and cellular activity in a mammalian brain multiple hours following death. If so, would various cellular functions reemerge? Indeed, Dr. Daniele demonstrated that the brain is much more resilient than previously thought and by developing a perfusion technology that restored circulation, cellular function could resume despite a prolonged circulatory arrest and global anoxia. The implications for possible experimental and therapeutic applications are profound.
Announcement prepared by Charles Greer, PhD
Professor of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience
Director of Graduate Studies
Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program