Regeneron Announces the 2018 Winners of the Regeneron Prize for Creative Innovation
Both young scientists are pursuing important research to further the understanding and treatment of neurological conditions
"The Regeneron Prize for Creative Innovation seeks to honor determined, creative young scientists who are leading the way for the next generation of medical breakthroughs," said
Competitors were reviewed by a selection committee of senior scientists at Regeneron. In
The two winners will each receive a
Lauren Orefice, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School, Regeneron Prize for Creative Innovation by a Postdoctoral Fellow: Dr. Oreficestudies the function of peripheral sensory neurons in mouse models of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), with the hypothesis that altered functioning of these neurons contributes to the development of the behavioral manifestations observed in ASDs. Specifically, she has shown that mice harboring mutations in certain ASD-associated genes, only in peripheral sensory neurons, show hypersensitivity across the body along with some core social and cognitive deficits typically associated with ASD mouse models.1 Her data suggest a causal link between sensory hypersensitivity and the development of core autistic-like behaviors. Dr. Oreficewill begin her own laboratory as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Biologyat Massachusetts General Hospitaland the Department of Geneticsat Harvard Medical School. She hopes her research will lead to more effective early treatments for individuals with ASD. Clara Kwon Starkweather, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School, Regeneron Prize for Creative Innovation by a Graduate Student: Dr. Starkweatherstudies the association between the firing of midbrain dopamine neurons and belief-related behaviors. In her recent work with mice, she showed that neurons fire differently depending on how confident the mice were that they were about to receive a water reward.2 She hopes to ultimately use this research to better understand and treat psychiatric diseases characterized by disrupted belief states, such as schizophrenia.
"For six years now, the Regeneron Prize has elicited submissions from the brightest young minds in science on their dream projects," said
Requests for applications are distributed to academic institutions late each fall. Institutions are asked to nominate two graduate students and two postdoctoral fellows. In addition to the dream project proposals, submissions must include a curriculum vitae and a sample of publications that enable the selection committee to review each nominee's scholarly productivity.
Regeneron (NASDAQ: REGN) is a leading biotechnology company that invents life-transforming medicines for people with serious diseases. Founded and led for 30 years by physician-scientists, Regeneron's science-driven approach has resulted in six FDA-approved medicines and numerous product candidates, all of which are homegrown in their laboratories. Regeneron's medicines and pipeline are designed to help in a range of diseases, including eye disease, allergic and inflammatory diseases, cancer, pain, infectious diseases and rare diseases. We believe that scientists should be the world's heroes and are committed to fostering the next generation of scientific talent through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education efforts. For additional information about the company, please visit www.regeneron.com or follow Regeneron on Twitter and Facebook.
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1 Orefice, L.L. (2016). "Peripheral Mechanosensory Neuron Dysfunction Underlies Tactile and Behavioral Deficits in Mouse Models of ASDs." Cell, 166, 299-313.
2 Starkweather, C.K. (2017). "Dopamine reward prediction errors reflect hidden-state inference across time." Nature Neuroscience, 20(4), 581-589.
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