Public Release: 

Fourth EURYI Award brings 4 young top researchers to Germany

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

The fourth round of the European Young Investigator (EURYI) Award has once again shown how attractive Germany is for young scientists from all over the world. As in the previous year, four of the recipients will carry out their research at German institutions over the next five years. Two of them were previously based in the USA, the other two in Switzerland. Two are German nationals, returning after time spent abroad. All four had applied through the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation). The prize will be awarded to a total of 20 young top researchers. They will receive up to 1.25 million euros for their research ideas to enable them to establish independent junior research groups to conduct research on their selected topics at research institutions of their choice - in Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The EURYI Awards will be presented on 27 September 2007 in Helsinki.

The following scientists will be researching in Germany:

  • Dr. Andre Fischer (33), Life Sciences, European Neuroscience Institute, Göttingen

Learning and memory processes are essential for our existence. However, during ageing, cognitive function declines. Ageing is also the main risk factor for various neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, which are an increasing social and economic burden to our societies. German scientist Andre Fischer, who will return from the USA under the EURYI Award, has developed a mouse model for neurodegenerative diseases to examine certain processes of those diseases, including synaptic or neuronal loss in specific parts of the brain and its effects. He will in particular focus on damage to long-term memory. Fischer found that even after severe damage to the brain, learning behaviour and access to long-term memory can be reinstated by increasing histone acetylation, a mechanism of (epigenetic) gene regulation. In the EURYI Award-funded project, Andre Fischer will further elucidate the role of epigenetic mechanisms and molecular relationships in learning and memory. His research will be interdisciplinary, combining genetic, biochemical, pharmacological and behavioural techniques. The objective of his research is to help to develop new therapeutic strategies for age-related neurodegenerative diseases.

  • Dr. Masaki Hori (34), Natural Sciences, Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, Garching

According to Wolfgang Pauly's 1955 CPT theorem of particle physics, the "antiworld" exists parallel to our real matter world, constructed by "antimatter" and "antiparticles", inversing the spatial configuration of space and reversing the flow of time - and yet, as it is accurately "mirrored", it is undistinguishable from our "real" world. The "antiatoms" resonate to exactly the same frequencies as their matter counterparts; "antiparticles" have the same mass as real matter particles and carry exactly the opposite electric charge. As any deviation from this principle, however small, would indicate that this fundamental symmetry of modern particle physics is broken, it must be examined in the minutest detail. In his EURYI project, Japanese researcher Masaki Hori will try to synthesize three kinds of atoms containing antimatter in order to verify their characteristics. In these experiments, Hori will use the potential provided by new technologies to manipulate antiparticles, e.g. the first sub-Doppler two-photon laser spectroscopy of antiprotonic helium ions, which will allow for a precise proton-antiproton mass comparison and potentially may provide a far more detailed indication of the antiproton-electron mass relationship than the known proton-electron relationship. In yet another part of the project, Hori will develop a so-called superconducting radio frequency-Paul-Trap, which will enable him to synthesize and examine antiprotons and positrons and hence also "antihydrogen". Prior to receiving the EURYI Award, Hori conducted his research at CERN in Switzerland.

  • Dr. Kai Phillip Schmidt (32), Natural Sciences/Theoretical Physics, University of Dortmund

The description of phenomena in materials in which particles interact closely - in particular so-called Mott insulators - requires extensive studies of theoretical many-particle physics. This is the topic of the project by German Kai Phillip Schmidt, funded by the EURYI Award. Schmidt plans to examine both ultra-cold atomic gases in diffraction grating as well as the magnetic properties in low-dimensional antiferromagnets. In doing so Schmidt, who previously worked in Lausanne in Switzerland, will apply and further develop a series of mathematical methods, such as continuous unitary transformations, a new generation of Quantum-Monte-Carlo processes and the Keldysh technique to calculate time-dependent characteristics.

  • Dr. Natalie Sebanz (29), Humanities and Social Sciences, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig

Austrian scientist Natalie Sebanz will come from the USA to Germany. In her research, she aims to understand the cognitive and neural mechanisms supporting our ability to act together with others. Joint action is a fundamental aspect of human life and cohabitation, as can be exemplified e.g. by two surgeons jointly operating on a patient, two friends moving furniture together, or two pianists performing a duet. Sebanz will study this aspect from the angle of cognitive science, which has tended to study perception, action, and cognition isolated from their social context and their role in social interaction. In her planned studies, she will refer to results achieved in social psychology and social-cognitive neuroscience regarding the processing of "social" information, but will add studies of general aspects of perception, action, and cognition and their role in social interaction. Sebanz will bridge the gap between the social, cognitive, and neurosciences in the domain of "joint action". Three processes are critical for joint action: co-representation (the ability to form a mental representation of a co-actor's task), joint attention to objects or events, and temporal coordination of own actions to others' actions. Sebanz will investigate these processes using a combination of behavioural, electrophysiological, brain imaging and patient studies.

###
Further Information

Further details on the EURYI Award can be found under www.dfg.de/euryi_award/en.

Further information on the prizewinners is available at: www.dfg.de/aktuelles_presse/preise/euryi_preis/index.html.

Information about EURYI on a European level is available at: www.esf.org/euryi; a list of all prizewinners can be found at: www.esf.org/activities/euryi/awards-results/2007.html.

Contacts at the DFG are Dr. Beate Scholz, Programme Director, Research Careers Division, Tel. +49 228 885-2798, E-Mail: Beate.Scholz@dfg.de, and Dr. Anjana Buckow, Tel. +49 228 885-2845, E-Mail: Anjana.Buckow@dfg.de.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.