Eva Pastalkova Wins $25,000 Gruber Award

One of four postdoctoral finalists for the 2009 Blavatnik Award is recognized by the Society of Neuroscience.

Eva Pastalkova, a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers University, Newark, and one of four postdoctoral finalists in the Academy's 2009 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists competition, has been selected as one of two national recipients of the 2009 Peter and Patricia Gruber International Research Award for Young Scientists sponsored by the Society of Neuroscience.

The Gruber award recognizes prominent young scientists who have demonstrated international collaboration in advancing the field of neuroscience. Along with the award, the society presented her with a $25,000 grant to support her research.

With her advisor, Professor György Buzsaki, Pastalkova developed a method for studying internally generated brain activity in rats. She was also part of the team at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn that identified the molecule, PKMzeta, that plays a central role in maintaining memories, recognized as a major advancement in the field of neuroscience. When the activity of the protein PKMzeta was blocked in the rat hippocampus, long-term memories were erased. This work also demonstrated that the mechanisms that maintain long-term memory potentiation, or long-lasting connections between neurons, are the same mechanisms that sustain spatial memory in rats, a finding that was hailed by Science as one of 10 major breakthroughs in 2006.

In January 2010, Pastalkova will start her own lab at the Janelia Farm Research Center in Virginia, a center of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The winners of the Blavatnik Awards will be announced on November 16 at the Academy's annual Science & the City Gala.