Neuroscientist Antonio Fernandez-Ruiz has been awarded the 2022 Freedman Prize for Exceptional Basic Research from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. The annual prize recognizes exceptional clinical and basic research in mental illness.
“The Klerman and Freedman prizes recognize innovative thinking and outstanding talent across the field of neuropsychiatry,” said Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D., President and CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation in a statement. “The important work of our award recipients is furthering the quest to help identify the biological roots of mental illness, to develop new diagnostic tools and more effective and targeted treatments, and to pave the way toward prevention. We applaud these researchers for their groundbreaking work.”
Fernandez-Ruiz, the Nancy and Peter Meinig Family Investigator in the Life Sciences and Assistant Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, studied biology and physics in the Universities of Sevilla and Madrid (Spain). He earned his Ph.D. at the Complutense University of Madrid in 2015, investigating the biophysical basis of brain oscillations and developing mathematical tools to analyze them. He then conducted his postdoctoral research at New York University where he studied the neural circuit mechanisms of learning and memory. The Freedman prize recognized his contributions to the understanding of the cellular mechanism of memory impairments in neuropsychiatric disease.
His current research aims to understand how neuronal dynamics in distributed brain circuits support complex cognitive functions and how small imbalances can lead to cognitive dysfunction in brain diseases. His laboratory has developed new methods for a more precise interrogation and manipulation of brain circuit dynamics in behaving animals and used then to elucidate the neural basis of flexible learning and memory consolidation.