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Hebrew University Prof is First Winner of New $100,000 Mathematical Neuroscience Prize

Prof. Haim Sompolinsky awarded first International Mathematical Neuroscience Award for Outstanding Work in Human Brain Modeling

Prof. Haim Sompolinsky of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has been awarded the 1st Annual Mathematical Neuroscience Prize by Israel Brain Technologies (IBT), a non-profit organization committed to advancing Israel’s neurotechnology industry and establishing the country as a global hub of brain technology innovation.

Prof. Sompolinsky, who pioneered the field of computational neuroscience, is the William N. Skirball Professor of Neuroscience at the Hebrew University’s Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences (ELSC). ELSC is one of the most ambitious neuroscience centers in the world, providing a multi-disciplinary environment where theorists, computer scientists, cognitive psychologists and biologists collaborate to revolutionize brain science.

IBT’s $100,000 Mathematical Neuroscience Prize, awarded at the 1st annual BrainTech Israel 2013 Conference in Tel Aviv, honors researchers worldwide who have significantly advanced our understanding of the neural mechanisms of perception, behavior and thought through the application of mathematical analysis and theoretical modeling.

Prof. Sompolinsky specializes in building mathematical models that describe the collective behavior and the informational processing in neural circuits in the brain. The principles that emerge from Prof. Sompolinsky's work contribute to our understanding of the system-wide failures that take place in brain diseases, from epilepsy to psychiatric disorders.

According to Sompolinsky, “Computational neuroscience is a vibrant and ambitious field that uses mathematical theories and models to cope with the most daunting challenges — from answering fundamental questions about the brain and its relation to the mind to answering questions posed by the quest to heal the brain’s debilitating diseases.”

Also winning a $100,000 Mathematical Neuroscience Prize was Prof. Larry Abbott, Bloor Professor of Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia University, who developed models ranging from the level of neurons and synapses to large-scale networks, and showed how plasticity mechanisms that change the properties of neural circuits can maintain their proper operation and allow them to change during the learning process.

Nobel Laureate Prof. Bert Sakmann, inaugural Scientific Director of the Max Planck Florida Institute, presented the awards at the conference. “This prize honors the founders of mathematical neuroscience, and is a milestone because it gives due recognition to this field,” said Sakmann.

“This prize recognizes leaders in the important field of mathematical neuroscience, whose advances support our ultimate quest to find new solutions for the betterment of all humankind,” said Miri Polachek, Executive Director of IBT.

In the future, the Prize Selection Committee will consist of previous prize winners, including Sompolinsky and Abbott.

IBT’s BrainTech Israel 2013 Conference is exploring developments in brain technology and their commercialization through a “meeting of the minds” among government leaders, entrepreneurs, researchers, leading companies and investors from Israel and around the world. Inspired by the vision of Israeli President Shimon Peres and building on Israel’s position as a global technology powerhouse, IBT aims to make Israel both the “Startup Nation” and the “Brain Nation.” IBT is also focused on increasing collaboration between the Israeli neurotechnology ecosystem and its counterparts around the world. IBT is led by a team of technology entrepreneurs and life science professionals and is advised by a panel of renowned academic, industry and public sector representatives including two Nobel Prize Laureates.

For information:

Dov Smith
Hebrew University Foreign Press Liaison
02-5882844 / 054-8820860 (+972-54-8820860)

Dov Smith | Hebrew University
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