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Professor Ray Dolan wins Max Planck Research Award 2007

9 March 2007

Professor Ray Dolan, Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL, is the 2007 recipient of the highly prestigious Max Planck Research Award for his work in neuromodulation and behaviour.

Ray Dolan, Professor of Neuropsychiatry at UCL, 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.

Professor Ray Dolan

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Max Planck Society grants the award each year to one international and one German scientist working who have achieved international recognition and who are expected to continue to produce outstanding academic achievements through international collaboration with the assistance of the award. The recipients may work in natural and engineering sciences, life sciences or the humanities.

The German Federal Ministry for Education and Research funds both the international and German awards, which are worth €750,000 each. Professor Dolan plans to use the prize money to investigate, together with colleagues in Germany, the neurochemical mechanisms underlying emotional learning and decision making in humans.

Professor Dolan said: “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. This is an area of research that is tremendously exciting at present and where there is a convergence of cross-disciplinary interest involving mathematicians, behavioural economists and cognitive neuroscientists among others. Understanding how neurochemical systems regulate cognition is key to developing treatments for devastating brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia."

“This is a tremendous achievement which is testimony to the efforts of Ray Dolan and colleagues within the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL,” said Professor Malcolm Grant, UCL President & Provost. “This award confirms that the UCL Institute of Neurology continues to fulfil its mission to carry out high quality research, the field of basic and clinical neurosciences.”

The 2007 award for a German scientist was won by Hans-Christian Pape, Director of the Institute of Physiology at Münster University and a leading expert in the neurophysical principles of behaviour.

To find out more about Professor Dolan’s work and the award, follow the links at the top of this article.

Image: Professor Ray Dolan, who has won the 2007 Max Planck Research Award