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January 26 2017

FMI postdocs Philip Tovote and Soledad Esposito received the Pfizer Research Prize 2017


Philip Tovote, Postdoctoral fellow in Andreas Lüthi's group and Soledad Esposito, Postdoctoral fellow in Silvia Arber’s team, are among the awardees of the Pfizer Research Prize 2017. They receive the award for their paper on the neuronal circuitry in the brain that controls defensive behavior in threatening situations published last year in Nature. The prize is one of the most prestigious prizes in Switzerland for a single research paper.

Neuronal networks in fear behavior - Neuroscience Award

In their study, Philip Tovote and Soledad Esposito have identified and characterized the neuronal circuitry in the brain that controls defensive behavior in threatening situations in mice. They show which neurons trigger fear-related freezing and how the freezing pathway interacts with pathways responsible for flight.

Evolutionarily conserved strategies for coping with fear – essential for survival – are deployed by a wide variety of species. Similar mechanisms exist in humans. The malfunction of the identified circuitry could therefore play a role in people with anxiety disorders.

Original publication
Tovote P*, Esposito MS*, Botta P, Chaudun F, Fadok JP, Markovic M, Wolff SBE, Ramakrishnan C, Fenno L, Deisseroth K, Herry C, Arber S, Lüthi A (2016) Midbrain circuits for defensive behavior. Nature, 534:206-212
*Co-first author

» More information about the award-winning Nature publication
» More about the Pfizer Research Prize 2017

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