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UCL scientist receives Max Planck Research Award 2007

Publication date: Mar 9, 2007 3:12:56 PM

Professor Ray Dolan of the UCL Institute of Neurology has today won the Max Planck Research Award 2007, one of the most prestigious awards in science. Professor Dolan has received the 750,000 euro award in recognition of his research in the field of neuromodulation and behaviour.

Professor Dolan, director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, is one of the pioneers of modern neurobehavioural research, which uses neuroimaging to examine high-level cognitive processes in the brain and their interaction with emotions and behaviour. Together with colleagues in Germany, he is going to use the prize money to investigate the neurochemical mechanisms underlying emotional learning and decision making in humans.

The Max Planck Research Award (the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Max Planck Society International Research Award) is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. It sponsors German and foreign academics from disciplines of particular relevance to the future. The award is granted to one researcher working in Germany and one working abroad who have already achieved international recognition and who are expected to continue producing outstanding academic achievements in international collaboration.

“This award provides a unique opportunity for us to commit major resources to develop an understanding of how neurochemical systems, for example brain dopamine, regulate emotion and decision making,” said Professor Dolan. “This is an area of research that is tremendously exciting at present and where there is a convergence of cross-disciplinary interest involving among others mathematicians, behavioural economists and cognitive neuroscientists. Understanding how neurochemical systems regulate cognition is key to developing treatments for conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia."

“This prize illustrates the tremendous achievement of Ray Dolan and his colleagues within our Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, ” said Professor Malcolm Grant, UCL President & Provost. “It recognises the outstanding stregnths of the UCL Institute of Neurology in leading high quality research in the field of basic and clinical neurosciences.”

Notes for Editors

1. For further information contact Dominique Fourniol in the UCL media relations office at 0207 679 9728.

2. For information about the Max Planck Research Award contact Antonia Petra Dhein and Kristina Güroff Tel: +49 (0)228 833-257, email: presse@avh.de, at the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

About UCL

Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. In the government’s most recent Research Assessment Exercise, 59 UCL departments achieved top ratings of 5* and 5, indicating research quality of international excellence.

UCL is the fourth-ranked UK university in the 2006 league table of the top 500 world universities produced by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. UCL alumni include Mahatma Gandhi (Laws 1889, Indian political and spiritual leader); Jonathan Dimbleby (Philosophy 1969, writer and television presenter); Junichiro Koizumi (Economics 1969, Prime Minister of Japan); Lord Woolf (Laws 1954, Lord Chief Justice of England & Wales); Alexander Graham Bell (Phonetics 1860s, inventor of the telephone), and members of the band Coldplay.

About the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Every year, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enables more than 1,800 researchers from all over the world to spend time researching in Germany. The Foundation maintains a network of more than 20,000 Humboldtians from all disciplines in 130 countries worldwide - including 40 Nobel Prize winners.

About the Max Planck Society


The Max Planck Society promotes basic research at top international level in science, the life sciences and the humanities. More than 12,000 staff and a further 9,000 guest academics, doctoral students and student assistants are involved in research and create the preconditions for economic and social innovation.