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.”

NOMIS Awardee Karl Deisseroth wins 4 million euro Fresenius Research Prize

NOMIS Awardee Karl Deisseroth, Stanford psychiatrist, neuroscientist and bioengineer, has won the Else Kröner Fresenius Preis für Medizinische Forschung 2017. The prize — world’s most valuable prize for scientific achievement — is presented every four years to a single scientist and comes with a cash award of 4 million euros.

Read the full article published by the Stanford Medicine News Center >>
Read the German article published by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung >>

Nature Communications: “Cardiac afferent activity modulates the expression of racial stereotypes”

NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Award winner Manos Tsakiris and his team of scientists have published the results of their research examining the connection between racial stereotypes and heartbeat in the journal Nature Communications.

By tapping into the phasic activation of arterial baroreceptors, known to be associated with changes in the neural processing of fearful stimuli, the team demonstrated activation of race-threat stereotypes synchronized with the cardiovascular cycle. In other words, our heartbeat can increase pre-existing racial biases when we face a potential threat.

Participants in the study were likely to misperceive a situation involving a black person as life-threatening, when experienced during cardiac systole rather than cardiac diastole. The heart’s firing of signals to the brain during cardiac systole, in combination with the concurrent presentation of a potential threat, increases the chances that even a non-threat will be perceived as threatening. This finding could provide valuable insight into understanding racially biased behavior, such as the high incidence of shootings of unarmed black people in the United States.

The research was conducted by scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London, working with Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), and was enabled by the European Research Council and the NOMIS Foundation. More information can be found in the Royal Holloway press release.

NZZ: “Self-perception: The ‘I’ in a world of images”

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), based in Zurich, Switzerland, has published an article about the work of NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Award winner Manos Tsakiris, who is leading and developing the Body and Image in Arts and Sciences (BIAS) project at the Warburg Institute, School of Advanced Study, University of London. The article, published in German (“Selbstwahrnehmung: Das ‘Ich’ in einer Welt aus Bildern”), highlights Tsakiris’ efforts to better understand how the barrage of images in today’s world influence the experience of embodiment and self-identity.

The BIAS project is enabled by the NOMIS Foundation.

NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Award builds bridges between the humanities, arts and sciences

On Oct. 6, 2016, a select group of world-renowned scientists and scholars as well as explorative research sponsors took part in the first NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Award ceremony at Villa Tobler in Zurich. Unlocking new insights by bridging scientific fields was the central theme of the evening and was underscored by the unique atmosphere of the historical avant-garde venue.

The inaugural NOMIS awardee is Manos Tsakiris, professor of psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London. Tsakiris presented his new research project, which is underway at the Warburg Institute in London. Based on the premise that culture is driven by images, the Body and Image in Arts and Science project (BIAS) seeks to shed new light on the interdependency between bodily responses and cognitive mechanisms in the way humans respond to images — in particular, how biological mechanisms and cultural factors shape human relationships in a culture powered by images.

By bringing neuroscientists, psychologists and scholars from the humanities together to investigate how images are “embodied” by the brain, Tsakiris is exploring new forms of scientific collaboration and exchange.

The NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Award enables exceptional scientists to explore unconventional academic paths, thereby forging new directions in science.

Manos Tsakiris, NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Awardee 2016

Manos Tsakiris has been named the first recipient of the NOMIS Distinguished Scientists and Scholars Award. As part of the award and in line with the interdisciplinary vision of the NOMIS Foundation, Tsakiris will lead and develop the Body and Image in Arts and Sciences (BIAS) project at the Warburg Institute, School of Advanced Study, University of London. The Warburg Institute is a world-famous institution for the study of cultural history and the role of images in culture, renowned for its cross-disciplinary approach and global reach. The BIAS project aims to address timely research questions at the intersection of the sciences and humanities with a particular focus on the biological mechanisms and cultural factors that shape our relationships to other people in a culture powered by images. In line with Warburg Director David Freedberg’s commitment to building bridges across the boundaries between the humanities, arts and sciences, BIAS seeks to engage with epistemological differences in order to forge new and innovative synergies across the disciplines.

These goals will be addressed through a range of research activities, including basic research, seminars and workshops, and will involve a network of international partners in the humanities, psychological sciences and neuroscience. To develop and implement BIAS, Tsakiris is assembling a research team and establishing a neuroscience lab at the Warburg Institute, School of Advanced Studies. In bringing together a unique range of methodological techniques and procedures, he and his team will contribute – with support from NOMIS – to a new and unprecedented expansion of the Warburg Institute founder Aby Warburg’s vision of a deeper knowledge of the role of biology in the understanding of culture and cultural history.

Manos Tsakiris studied psychology (Panteion University, Athens) and philosophy (King’s College, London) before completing his PhD (2006) in psychology and cognitive neurosciences at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL. In 2007 he joined the Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London, where he is currently professor of psychology. His research is highly interdisciplinary and uses a wide range of methods to investigate the neurocognitive mechanisms that shape the experience of embodiment and self-identity. He is the recipient of the 2014 Young Mind and Brain Prize and of the 22nd Experimental Psychology Society Prize.

He has published widely in multidisciplinary and neuroscientific journals. His research has attracted much interest from the scientific community and from media around the world, appearing in major international news channels such as Reuters, BBC, The Times, The Guardian, El Pais, Le Figaro, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post and Scientific American.