Public Release: 

William Muñoz receives Nemko Prize in Cellular or Molecular Neuroscience

Society for Neuroscience

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) will award the Nemko Prize in Cellular or Molecular Neuroscience to William Muñoz, PhD, a student in the MD-PhD program at the New York University School of Medicine, for his development and application of a method to record from interneurons deep in the cerebral cortex and identify both their morphology and their function.

The Nemko Prize recognizes a young neuroscientist for his or her PhD thesis that advances the understanding of molecular, genetic or cellular mechanisms underlying higher brain function and cognition.

The $2,500 prize is supported by the Nemko Family. It will be presented in San Diego at Neuroscience 2018, SfN's annual meeting and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

"SfN congratulates Dr. Muñoz on his remarkable PhD thesis and accomplishments to date," SfN President Richard Huganir said. "The method he developed for recording cortical neurons in behaving animals has already been adopted by colleagues in the field and will continue to lead to new insights into the structure and function of the cortex."

Muñoz completed his thesis, Studies on the dynamics of dendritic inhibition of the neocortex, at the New York University School of Medicine, where he is now earning his medical degree. With his thesis, he sought to develop an experimental strategy to examine the functional architecture of the cortex in awake, behaving mice. The method he developed, called channelrhodopsin-assisted patching, allows scientists to record the activity of specific cell types in the brain at any depth in both anesthetized and awake mice.

With the innovative method he introduced, Muñoz discovered a family of somatostatin-expressing inhibitory neurons that have distinct patterns of activity during behavior and target different parts of the dendritic arbor of excitatory neurons. His work suggests a new mechanism by which the cerebral cortex can process and integrate separate information lines and sort out the information that is relevant at any given point in time.

The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is an organization of nearly 36,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and the nervous system.

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