The 2014 Prix Roger De Spoelberch – which recognises exceptional contributions to the study of neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases –– has been awarded to Professor Oscar Marín, Director of the MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology (MRC CDN), Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London.
The award will be presented on 24 April at the Royal Academy of Belgium in Brussels.
Professor Marín is being acknowledged for his work on brain development and the mechanisms controlling the generation, migration and wiring of cortical interneurons, as well as how anomalies in their development may result in diseases such as schizophrenia or epilepsy.
He said: ‘I am truly honoured to receive this prize from the Roger De Spoelberch Foundation, which will enable us to continue our work in understanding how abnormal brain development leads to psychiatric disorders.’
The £750,000 prize will primarily support research in Professor Marín’s laboratory, where his studies have contributed to a better understanding of the neurobiology of the developing brain. His research has led to advancements in determining the origin and specification of cortical interneurons, which have been shown to play a major role in the function of the cerebral cortex.
In collaboration with Professor Beatriz Rico, also from the MRC CDN at King’s, Professor Marín has recently shown that defects in the development of cortical interneurons cause some behavioural deficits in mice that are reminiscent of those observed in patients with schizophrenia. These studies may open the door to the identification of new therapies for this disorder.
Professor Marín has received numerous awards and recognitions in neuroscience, including the Rey Jaime I Prize in Basic Science (2011), the FENS/EJN Young Investigator Award (2012), and the Wolfson Research Award from the Royal Society (2014). He is also the recipient of an ERC Advanced Grant and a Wellcome Trust Investigator.
The Roger De Spoelberch Foundation is based in Geneva and supports research in the field of neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases. The Roger De Spoelberch prize was established in 2009 to award research and assistance for neurodegenerative diseases in general and psychiatric disorders seriously altering human behaviour, such as schizophrenia. Recent recipients of this prize include Professor Stanislas Dehaene and Professor Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg.
For more information about the Roger De Spoelberch Foundation (in French), visit their website.