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11/17/2008
Rall Receives $25,000 Swartz Prize For Theoretical And Computational Neuroscience

Award recognizes noteworthy advance in theoretical or computational neuroscience

Washington, DC, November 17, 2008 — The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) today awarded the inaugural Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience to Wilfrid Rall, PhD, who retired from the National Institutes of Health in 1994. Supported by the Swartz Foundation, the prize, which includes $25,000, recognizes a noteworthy advance over the past several years in theoretical or computational neuroscience. SfN gives the award during Neuroscience 2008, the SfN annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news on brain science and health.

“Dr. Rall’s work has profoundly shaped the field of neuroscience and helped spark entire new subfields,” said Eve Marder, PhD, president of SfN. “His work in computational neuroscience has had an enormous impact and continuing influence on the field for more than 50 years.”

Rall has used simulations to analyze and understand real nervous systems. He introduced numerous concepts to understand dendritic function by applying methods of mathematical physics and computer simulation and by demonstrating the value of idealized model formulation to gain insight into fundamental mechanisms. His classic series of papers (Science, 1957, and Experimental Neurology, 1959 and 1960) showed how dendrites were amenable to a rigorous mathematical analysis, and introduced a new theoretical framework for studying their functional properties.

Rall’s first paper in 1957 introduced the quantitative evidence for dendritic dominance of the integrative activities of neurons. The two papers in 1959 and 1960 carried out the first biophysical analysis of dendritic branching, pioneering the use of cable theory for the understanding of the biophysical properties of dendrites.

Today, virtually every computational model using single neurons that consist of more than a single compartment draws directly on Rall’s developments. The widespread utility of software such as NEURON and Genesis are emblematic of his achievements.

Rall’s work has been featured in many publications, including The History of Neuroscience in Autobiography, Volume 5. The five-volume book series is available for download and viewing at www.sfn.org.

The Society for Neuroscience is an organization of more than 38,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.

About The Swartz Foundation
The Swartz Foundation was established by Jerry Swartz in 1994 to explore the application of mathematical physics, computer science, and engineering principles to neurobiology, as a path to better understand the brain/mind relationship. The foundation supports post-doc research in computational neuroscience at 11 universities and scientific institutions, through centers at Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, Columbia University, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and UC San Diego, and in partnership with the Sloan Foundation at their original five Centers for Theoretical Neurobiology at Salk Institute, Cal Tech, UC San Francisco, NYU/Courant and Brandeis University. Learn more at http://www.theswartzfoundation.org.

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Contacts at SfN:
Sara Harris: (202) 962-4087
Todd Bentsen: (202) 962-4086

Contact The Swartz Foundation:
http://www.theswartzfoundation.org/contact.asp


Additional Resources:

5/1/08: Society for Neuroscience Swartz Prize Announced:
http://www.theswartzfoundation.org/news_show.asp?newsID=42


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