Congratulations to Dr. Richard Huganir, Professor and Director of the Neuroscience Department, for being awarded the Ralph W. Gerard Prize in Neuroscience in 2022. He was honored with this award at the Society for Neuroscience meeting November 14th, 2022.
From SfN news:
Ralph W. Gerard Prize in Neuroscience: Richard Huganir
The Ralph W. Gerard Prize in Neuroscience — the highest honor bestowed by SfN — recognizes an outstanding scientist who has made significant contributions to neuroscience throughout his or her career. The prize is named for the revered neuroscientist Dr. Ralph W. Gerard who helped establish the Society for Neuroscience and served as its honorary president. The honoree receives a $30,000 prize in addition to complimentary registration and travel to SfN’s annual meeting.
Richard Huganir, the director of the department of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, established the molecular mechanisms underlying synaptic plasticity in the brain in heath and disease. His early work was among the first to demonstrate how phosphorylation of ion channels affects their function, including for the nicotinic receptor, GABA receptors, and glutamate receptors. He then discovered the molecular details of how synaptic plasticity is regulated by receptor phosphorylation and by interactions with novel proteins. He was the first to demonstrate that specific protein phosphorylation is critical for synaptic plasticity in intact animals and that mutating the phosphorylation sites results in memory deficits. He discovered numerous proteins that bind to NMDA-receptors and AMPA-receptors and how these interactions regulate synaptic plasticity. Huganir also elucidated the mechanism underlying fear memory and fear erasure, uncovering a potential therapeutic window for post-traumatic stress disorder treatments. He also developed new approaches to imaging receptor trafficking in intact animals as well as high throughput screens to isolate genes regulating synapse development. In parallel with another lab, Huganir also discovered homeostatic synaptic plasticity and has recently shown how it is engaged during sleep to help memory consolidation. His research has been central to understanding how receptor regulation and synaptic plasticity is disrupted in many neurological disorders including intellectual disability, autism, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, drug addiction, and depression. Through his groundbreaking work demonstrating the regulation of neurotransmitter receptors in synaptic plasticity and learning and memory, Huganir has transformed our understanding of brain function.