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Nerve cell scientist’s major award

05 October 2011

Alun webProfessor Alun Davies

Professor Alun Davies, a nerve cell expert at the School of Biosciences, has received his second major honour of the year.

Professor Davies has been elected a member of Academia Europaea (the Academy of Europe) at its recent Council meeting in Paris. The Academia is an international association of 2000 experts from all disciplines who are leaders in their own subject areas. Membership is by invitation only, with nominations made by existing members of the Academia, followed by a peer review process and confirmation of the nominee’s scholarship.

Professor Davies’ research focuses on the development of nerve cells. He is best known for fundamental research on molecular mechanisms regulating nerve cell survival and the growth and elaboration of their processes. He heads a research team of many post-doctoral fellows and PhD students supported by external funding of more than £2M

His election to the Academia follows his earlier success this year when he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. His award is a further remarkable success for the School’s Neuroscience Division, three of whom are now members of the Academia together with the School’s Director, Professor Ole Petersen and its two Nobel laureates, Professor Sir Martin Evans and Professor Robert Huber.

Professor Davies said: "I am delighted to be elected to the Academia Europaea, it is recognition of the collective body of research done by my research team and many fruitful collaborations we have had with colleagues in the UK and overseas over the past quarter of a century."

His two Neuroscience colleagues who have also been elected to the Academia recently are Professor Kevin Fox and Professor Vincenzo Crunelli. Professor Fox’s research centres on the cerebral cortex in the brain. He has investigated the role of NMDA receptors in the development and plasticity in the cerebral cortex and also the functional circuitry and molecular mechanisms of plasticity in the barrel cortex. He said: "My election to the Academia was a recognition for a large number of people. None of my work would have been possible without the many talented scientists I have been fortunate to work with over the years."

Professor Vincenzo Crunelli is one of the world leaders in the physiology and pathophysiology of the thalamo-cortical system. His paradigm-shifting discoveries over the last 25 years have shaped our present view of the cellular and network mechanisms responsible for the generation of the slow EEG waves of relaxed wakefulness and deep sleep and the characterization of an astrocytic abnormality as the cause for non-convulsive absence epilepsy.


School of Biosciences Director Professor Petersen added: "As a Member of Academia Europaea’s Executive Board and Council, it has been a particular pleasure to witness the spectacular success of these three very distinguished neuroscientists from the School of Biosciences. Academia Europaea plays an increasingly important role in European Science Policy, particularly in the continuing debate about the development of the 'Europe 2020 Agenda'. The Academy needs the very best advice from the very best scientists across the whole of Europe and will benefit greatly from now having Alun Davies, Vincenzo Crunelli and Kevin Fox as Members.