SRF: “The fight against forgetting”

NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Tony Wyss-Coray appeared on the Swiss television program, Einstein, which aired on Feb. 15, 2018. The story, “Kampf gegen das Vergessen” (“The fight against forgetting”), addresses the crippling effects of Alzheimer’s disease and highlights Wyss-Coray’s promising research in this direction. Professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford University, Wyss-Coray’s groundbreaking findings suggest that the plasma in our blood directly influences aging. His most recent studies have shown that circulatory factors can modulate neurogenesis, neuroimmunity and cognitive function in mice and that blood-derived factors from young mice or humans can rejuvenate the aging mouse brain.

NOMIS is supporting Wyss-Coray’s continued research into identifying the circulatory factors that influence aging and using those factors to rejuvenate the aging or degenerated brain.

Einstein is a weekly Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF) newsmagazine.

Aeon: “‘Let the soul dangle’: how mind-wandering spurs creativity”

In a recent article by Julia Christensen, Guido Giglioni and NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Manos Tsakiris, published in Aeon, the authors suggest that “reverie might help to prime us to think both productively and creatively by somehow cementing our sense of self, drawing body and mind together in a train of thought and biological action.” The authors identify art as a catalyst for letting the mind wander, which in turn induces reflections and emotions and affects the body’s physiology.

Tsakiris is leading the Body and Image in Arts and Sciences (BIAS) project at the Warburg Institute, School of Advanced Study, University of London. BIAS is supported by the NOMIS Foundation.

Tages Anzeiger: “The cerebral man”

Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger published an article about NOMIS Distinguished Scientist awardee Karl Deisseroth. Titled “The cerebral man” (translated from the original German “Der Kopfmensch”), the article details Deisseroth’s significant contributions to the study of the human brain. Deisseroth developed optogenetics, a technique that uses light to manipulate cells in the brain, and CLARITY, a technique that enables researchers to see the protein and nucleic acid structures inside the intact brain.

NOMIS celebrates its Distinguished Scientist Award 2017 winners

Karl Deisseroth, Tony Wyss-Coray and Svante Pääbo

NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Award 2017

— Recognizing not only scientific excellence, but also celebrating researchers who push for unconventional paths and show exceptional engagement in insight-driven research and collaboration, the NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Award 2017 was presented to Karl Deisseroth, Tony Wyss-Coray, and Svante Pääbo on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 at the Gottlieb-Duttweiler-Institute (GDI) in Rüschlikon, Switzerland. Founded on the principle that the facility should be a place for reflection on socially significant ideas, the GDI served as the perfect venue.

With over 100 guests, among them top scientists and scholars, representatives of world-renowned research institutes, and a number of research funders from both Switzerland and Germany, the ceremony was a culmination of acknowledging not only the relevance of basic research but also the importance of a mutualistic relationship between researchers and research funders.

Tony Wyss-Coray, Karl Deisseroth, Svante Pääbo and Elizabeth Blackburn (l-r) considering the importance of basic research in an increasingly outcomes-oriented environment during a panel discussion moderated by NOMIS Board Member Martin Hetzer (r)

The award ceremony was followed by a panel discussion with Nobel Laureate and president of the Salk Institute, Elizabeth Blackburn, and the three awardees. The discussion addressed topics such as how scientists protect creativity and innate curiosity when confronted with the expectation that they must produce tangible results, how they approach risk in research, and the public perception of their science. Concluding with a networking dinner, the event showed to be a meaningful opportunity for an informed, lively and engaging exchange of ideas.

Prior to the award ceremony, the awardees presented their work at a public lecture series at ETH Zurich on Wednesday, Oct. 18 and at the University of Zurich on Thursday, Oct. 19. 

Karl Deisseroth (r) receives the NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Award from NOMIS Board Member Nilüfer Göle (l)

Deisseroth’s lecture, “Illuminating the brain,” shed light on his groundbreaking work in neuroscience. Deisseroth is widely recognized for developing and implementing an approach to biology called optogenetics, a technique that involves the use of light to control cells in living tissue. The NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Award enables Deisseroth and his team to implement the project ‘”Circuit States: Discovering the Causal Principles Underlying Brain-wide Dynamics,” which will adapt and combine new technologies developed in Deisseroth’s lab. The awardee hopes to gain insights into the interacting functions of neurons across multiple brain areas.

Svante Pääbo (center) receives the NOMIS award from NOMIS Board Member Catharina Kahane (l) and NOMIS Managing Director Markus Reinhard (r)

A founder of paleogenetics, Svante Pääbo became best known for his pathbreaking research on the Neandertal genome. Pääbo’s lecture, “A neandertal view of human uniqueness,” described his quest to learn more about the genetic differences and functional consequences that occurred at the split between the modern human and their archaic human ancestors about half a million years ago. The NOMIS award enables Pääbo’s research on the genetic underpinnings of the human condition and thus potentially provides an additional avenue to study diseases and other conditions that affect uniquely human traits.

Tony Wyss-Coray (center) receives the NOMIS award from NOMIS Board Member Martin Hetzer (l) and NOMIS Managing Director Markus Reinhard (r)

Tony Wyss-Coray’s lecture, “Blood proteins regulating brain function and aging,” described his investigation into the role of aging on neurodegeneration in general and Alzheimer’s disease in particular. His research has shown that the administration of young blood into old organisms has functional consequences, appearing to “rejuvenate” an aged brain. With the support of the NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Award, Wyss-Coray and his team are setting out on the quest to identify the key proteins and genes that are at the core of this rejuvenating effect, which could produce vital new insights into biological aging.

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NZZ: “What Neandertals have to do with today’s diseases”

Swiss newspaper Die Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) has published an interview with NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Svante Pääbo about his work in the field of paleogenetics, and more specifically, about the relevance of Neandertal genes in humans today. Although Europeans carry at most 2 percent Neandertal-derived gene variants, certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes — which today is a global epidemic — have been traced back to Neandertal DNA.

The interview was originally published in German under the title, “Was der Neandertaler mit heutigen Krankheiten zu tun hat.”