Essays on Science and SocietyEPPENDORF WINNER

2008 Grand Prize Winner

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Science  07 Nov 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5903, pp. 875
DOI: 10.1126/science.322.5903.875

The author of the prize-winning essay, Mauro Costa-Mattioli, received his bachelor's degree in biology from the University of the Republic, Montevideo, Uruguay. In 1998, he moved to France, where he received his master's degree (diplôme universitaire) from Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris, and his Ph.D. from the University of Nantes under the supervision of Sylviane Billaudel. In 2002, he joined the laboratory of Nahum Sonenberg at McGill University, Montreal, as a postdoctoral fellow. His work defined the role of translational (protein synthesis) control in long-lasting synaptic plasticity and memory formation. In the summer of 2008, he joined the faculty at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, as an assistant professor of neuroscience. Using multidisciplinary approaches, Dr. Costa-Mattioli's laboratory studies the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying long-term synaptic plasticity, learning and memory, and related neurological disorders.


Hendrikje Nienborg for her essay “Visual Perception: Interactions between Sensory and Decision Processes.” Dr. Nienborg received an M.Sc. in neuroscience from the University of Oxford, UK, in 2000. She continued her studies at Munich University, Germany, and was awarded her M.D. in 2003 and her Ph.D. in 2005. She then joined Bruce Cumming's lab at the NIH as a postdoctoral fellow. Also a sculptor, Dr. Nienborg is fascinated by visual perception and our ability to perceive depth, the focus of her research. For her graduate work she showed that disparity-selective neurons in primate primary visual cortex are limiting factors for depth perception. In her postdoctoral work, she seeks to identify the mechanisms underlying neuronal correlates of perceptual decisions in behaving monkeys.

Claudio Hetz for his essay “Protein Misfolding Disorders and ER Stress Signals.” Dr. Hetz received his undergraduate degree in biotechnology engineering from the University of Chile in 2000. In his Ph.D. work with Claudio Soto at Serono Pharmaceutical Research Institute, Geneva, he showed that prion pathogenesis involves endoplasmic reticulum stress responses. In post-doctoral work, first in Stanley Korsmeyer's laboratory at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and then in Laurie Glimcher's lab at Harvard, he addressed the connection between apoptosis and the unfolded protein response in vivo. Since 2007 he has been an assistant professor at the University of Chile and an adjunct professor at Harvard. His laboratory uses animal models to investigate the signaling responses involved in protein misfolding disorders.

For the full text of finalist essays and for information about applying for next year's awards, see Science Online at

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