Eric J. Nestler, MD, PhD, Wins the 2023 Peter Seeburg Integrative Neuroscience Prize
Award will be presented at the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting in November
Eric J. Nestler, MD, PhD, a world-leading expert on the biological basis of addiction and depression, who serves as Mount Sinai’s Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience and Director of The Friedman Brain Institute, has been selected as the 2023 recipient of the Peter Seeburg Integrative Neuroscience Prize.
The career prize was awarded by the Society for Neuroscience and the Schaller-Nikolich Foundation for Dr. Nestler’s “unique integration of molecular and cellular findings within a circuit and systems context that has transformed the field and made foundational contributions to establishing a molecular basis for drug addiction and depression,” according to the official announcement.
Dr. Nestler, who is also Dean for Academic Affairs at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Chief Scientific Officer of the Mount Sinai Health System, has pioneered the understanding of the molecular, cellular, and physiological changes in the brain caused by drugs of abuse. Through the pioneering use of viral-mediated gene transfer and inducible mutant mice, his laboratory experimentally altered the activity of specific genes within the reward pathways and studied the consequences on the functioning of neural circuits and their behavioral outputs. This work was the first to causally link drug-induced molecular and cellular adaptations with the behavioral abnormalities that define addiction.
Dr. Nestler was also the first to demonstrate how common molecular mechanisms underlie different types of addictions. His coworkers and he also developed one of the best-validated mouse models of depression and other human stress disorders and used it to establish a critical role for the brain’s reward circuits in depression, a discovery since validated in humans. The Nestler laboratory also used gene and chromatin analyses to discover numerous proteins that mediate either susceptibility or resilience to chronic stress in animals, work that has transformed treatment efforts.
“In addition to the outstanding achievements and internationally recognized contributions he has made to the field of neuroscience, as the Founding Director of The Friedman Brain Institute at Mount Sinai, Dr. Nestler has cultivated one of the leading translational brain science institutes in the country,” said Dennis S. Charney, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of Icahn Mount Sinai and President for Academic Affairs of the Mount Sinai Health System. “Under his exemplary leadership, The Friedman Brain Institute attracts some of the most innovative researchers from around the world who have made extraordinary contributions to scientific knowledge, pioneering approaches, and new technologies over the past 15 years. Dr. Nestler is one of the best neuroscientists in the world, whose research has the potential to help millions of patients with serious neuropsychiatric disorders. We are proud of and grateful for what he has achieved here at Mount Sinai and are so pleased that the Society for Neuroscience and Schaller-Nikolich Foundation have recognized his achievements as well.”
Dr. Nestler will be presented with the Seeburg Prize on Saturday, November 11, at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington and will receive a $50,000 prize. The prize is endowed by the Schaller-Nikolich Foundation and named after Peter H. Seeburg, a German neuroscientist and pioneer in molecular neurobiology. It recognizes scientists who have contributed outstanding advances to the understanding of executive brain functions and cognitive processes.
“It is a tremendous honor to receive the Seeburg Prize from the Society for Neuroscience. The Prize underscores the importance of integrative, multidisciplinary approaches to better understand the brain and to advance therapeutics for neuropsychiatric disorders. I especially want to thank the many PhD students and postdoctoral fellows who have been part of my laboratory over the past several decades and who performed all of the work for which I’m being recognized,” said Dr. Nestler.
Dr. Nestler has served on a number of national organizations. He has been on the Board of Scientific Counselors and National Advisory Drug Abuse Council of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Advisory Mental Health Council for the National Institute of Mental Health, a Council member and President (2011) of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, and a Council member and President (2017) of the Society for Neuroscience. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) in 1998 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005.
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