Pasko Rakic, MD, PhD, the Dorys McConnell Duberg Professor of Neuroscience, founding chair of the department of neurobiology and the inaugural director of the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience, was awarded the 2008 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience "for discoveries on the developmental and functional logic of neuronal circuits."
Through anatomical studies of the developing brain, carried out over more than three decades, Rakic has explained how neurons organize themselves over the course of development into the complex, densely interconnected circuitry of the adult cerebral cortex.
Jon Storm-Mathisen, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Oslo, and chairman of the Kavli Neuroscience Prize Committee, said: “Major questions in modern brain science are how the complex neuronal circuits of the brain and spinal cord are assembled during development and how they function in the adult.
“Together [the 2008 Kavli Neuroscience Laureates] Rakic, Jessell and Grillner have managed to decipher the mechanisms that govern the formation and functioning of the complex networks of the neural system to a level of understanding never previ- ously achieved. The insight spans from the level of signalling molecules to cell and network wiring and action, to behaviour.
“The new knowledge carries promise for future treatments of brain disorders by repairing damaged circuits. The discovery of motor pattern generators, the neural networks underlying movements, in the spinal cord is already being used to re-establish locomotion in people paralysed after spinal cord injury.”