Early career support for UCL neuroscientists

11 August 2008

Three academics in the UCL Institute of Neurology have been granted prestigious early-career fellowships that will enable them to take their research to the next level in the coming years.

Dr Jenny Crinion, of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL, has been awarded an MRC Clinical Scientist Fellowship. The MRC Clinical Scientist Fellowship Scheme offers support to enable outstanding clinical researchers to consolidate their research skills and make the transition from postdoctoral research and training to independent investigation. Funding is provided for four years, covering the fellow’s personal salary costs, together with research support staff, research consumables expenses, travel costs and capital equipment for the research project.

Dr Crinion was granted £1,013,129 for her research into predicting and treating chronic spoken language production deficits after aphasic stroke, using functional neuroimaging, transcranial magnetic stimulation and behavioural intervention. The award also provides her with the opportunity to spend six months training in diffusion and perfusion imaging of acute stroke with Professor Argye Hillis at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, USA.

Dr Sven Bestmann (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience) and Dr Sam Gilbert (UCL Institute of Neurology) were each offered both a Royal Society University Research Fellowship and a BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship. In the end, Dr Bestmann opted for the BBSRC award, while Dr Gilbert chose the Royal Society University Research Fellowship.

The BBSRC David Phillips fellowship provides generous support for postdoctoral researchers with high potential, such as Dr Bestmann, to become leading scientists in their field. The scheme includes the fellow’s salary as well as ample funding for research assistants and equipment for a period of five years, allowing fellows to establish an independent research career.

Dr Bestmann works on neural basis of action selection, action preparation, and the learning of novel actions. His work is particularly concerned with the combination of complementary research techniques and approaches, including functional neuroimaging, cortical stimulation, and psychophysics. He furthermore uses computational modelling approaches in combination with these techniques to gain insight into how different brain regions interact to integrate information and experience into complex and flexible actions.

The Royal Society University Research Fellowships scheme aims to provide outstanding scientists with the opportunity to build an independent research career. Initially funding is provided for five years, covering the fellow’s salary costs and a research grant. Dr Gilbert’s research focuses on the functions of the human prefrontal cortex, using a variety of techniques including functional neuroimaging, computational modelling, and studies of participants with autism spectrum disorders.

To find out more about the academics and the funding bodies, use the links at the top of the article.