Discovering the causes of brain diseases

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The BRAIN DISEASES Funds was launched in 2005 to promote non-clinical, basic research in brain disorders, e.g., Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, brain cancer, epilepsy, depressive disorders etc. In February 2019 the funds were transferred to the UZH Foundation which manages them.

The funds are used for the UZH-Award for Research in Brain Diseases, a yearly prize (10,000 Swiss Francs) for PhD students for their outstanding contributions to non-clinical basic research related to brain disorders.

Scientific committee
The scientific committee consists of Prof. Amedeo Caflisch, Prof. Ben Schuler, the UZH provost for research Michael Schaepman also as representative of the UZH Foundation.

Promotion of women scientists
It is important to note that since 2006, twelve of the 18 awardees have been female PhD students.  Thus, the proportion of women scientists who have won the prize is higher than the female percentage of PhD students in neurosciences.

List of the winners

Marlen Knobloch, PhD (prize winner in 2007): «Transgene mice with Alzheimer»
During her PhD work with Prof. Roger Nitsch at the Division of Psychiatric Research of UZH Dr. Knobloch developed a novel transgenic mouse model to test new hypotheses related to the origin of Alzheimer’s disease.  Thanks to this mouse model she could analyze the effects of peptide aggregates that are responsible for the cognitive deficits observed in Alzheimer’s disease patients. An important result of her research is that she could provide strong evidence that the initial phases of the aggregation process are responsible for the loss of memory. Furthermore, she could show that specific antibodies can eliminate the pathological peptide aggregates in mice. Dr. Knobloch is mother of two children and is currently independent group leader at the University of Lausanne.

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Dr. Marlen Knobloch is now Professor and Teamleader at the Departement for Physiology at the University of Lausanne.

Winner 2019: Sara Bottes

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain can generate new nerve cells throughout life. One of the areas where this happens is the hippocampus, a brain structure that is important for many types of learning and memory, deciding what is remembered and what is forgotten. During her PhD thesis Sara Bottes was critically involved in experiments that for the first time succeeded to directly visualize neural stem cell divisions in the adult brain and to follow their integration and maturation over several months. Thus, her work provides fundamentally novel insights in the biology of neural stem cells that may be helpful to therapeutically target endogenous neural stem cells for brain repair.

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Sara Bottes worked on her PhD thesis at the Institute for Brain Research at the UZH.

Your candidature for the BRAIN DISEASES Award
Have you published recently the results of your PhD research work on brain diseases as a first (or co-first) author? Do not hesitate to apply to the UZH-Award for research in brain diseases if you have published (or have in press) interesting results on basic research in brain disorders. The rules for applicants can be downloaded here.

UZH-Award for Research in Brain Diseases: rules for applicants


Your donation
Would you like to contribute to research in the brain function and diseases? With a donation you can make possible that talented young scientists are recognized for their passion in brain research and their contribution to fundamental discoveries with the ultimate goal to cure terrible maladies, like Alzheimer’s disease for which there is currently no cure.