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Lister Prize

Neuroscientist awarded prestigious prize to fund brain research

Published on: 30 June 2023

Dr Srikanth Ramaswamy has been announced as one of six new Fellows selected for the 2023 Lister prize.

The Institute, through a rigorous process, selects applicants whose early-career success indicates exceptional potential for future biomedical research.

This year, the Fellows work contributes to greater understanding of disease and pathogens and the body’s healing mechanisms, supporting development of new therapeutic approaches.

Dr Srikanth Ramaswamy

Understanding the brain

Dr Ramaswamy’s research aims to better understand how the brain works and to build computer models of how it implements cognitive functions.

The brain continuously adapts and responds to behavioural demands. It achieves this by controlling the function of nerve cells (neurons) and their networks through the release of neuromodulators.

Neuromodulators – histamine, acetylcholine, noradrenaline, dopamine and serotonin – are chemical messengers that govern the emergence of brain movement by controlling the activity of neural networks and regulating shifts between behavioural states like sleep, wakefulness, distraction and attention.

Dr Ramaswamy’s research will assess the ways in which neuromodulators shape cognition and use this knowledge to build computer models of how the brain works and how it goes awry in disease.

He said: “Winning a prestigious Lister Prize will help to advance my research programme at Newcastle University and propel my career development.

“The flexibility of funding provided by a Lister Prize will allow me to build a multidisciplinary team to progress with this new research direction, focusing on biological and artificial neural networks.

“Over and above, I will benefit from the Institute’s mentorship programme for early career scientists and become part of a lifelong network of Lister Fellows.”

Dr Ramaswamy is part of Newcastle University’s NUAcT fellowship scheme and leads the Neural Circuits Laboratory.

Lister Prize Fellowship

The Lister Prize Fellowships are one-off awards which help to support and nurture future leaders in biomedical research. These awards are for those in the early stages of their career.

The prizes of £250,000 are given each year following a written application process, rigorous peer review and subsequent interview with members of the Lister Institute’s Scientific Advisory Committee.

The money is awarded as a lump sum grant that must be spent within five years. It can be used for any research costs and expenses, including the salaries of post-doctoral workers, technicians, or PhD students, except your own salary.


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