WASHINGTON, DC ¬¬-- The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) will award Yan Dong, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh with the Jacob P. Waletzky Award. Established in 2003 and supported by the Waletzky Award Prize Fund and the Waletzky family, the $25,000 award is given to a scientist who has conducted research or plans to conduct research in the area of substance abuse and the brain and nervous system. The prize will be presented at Neuroscience 2015, SfN's annual meeting and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
"SfN is pleased to recognize the Dr. Yan Dong and his extraordinary contribution to the field of addiction research," SfN President Steven Hyman said. "His research has expanded our understanding of brain mechanisms that underlie motivation and how drugs of abuse can impact these mechanisms."
Dong's research focuses on how drugs of abuse like cocaine can hijack the brain's existing circuitry and lead to addiction. Throughout his career, Dong has made great strides in characterizing how drugs of abuse alter the way cells in the brain communicate with each other. Specifically, he has identified that exposure to cocaine produces long-lasting changes in the way that the amygdala and the nucleus accumbens -- two brain regions implicated in motivation and reward -- talk to each other. Dong also went on to show that these brain changes mediate the relapse to drug-seeking behavior after a period of abstinence.
Dong earned his PhD from the Chicago Medical School and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University. He is currently an associate professor of neuroscience and psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh.
The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is an organization of nearly 40,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.