Brenda Milner Award Winners 2024

Dear SFB1315 Members and Colleagues,

we are very pleased to announce winners of the Brenda Milner Award 2024. The CRC1315 Steering Committee voted in favor of awarding two candidates with a monetary award of 7.500 EUR each, to support their career development, including support for  travel related to their SFB1315 collaborations.

Dr. Iryna Schommartz  is awarded the Brenda Milner Award 2024 for her excellent research output which includes three first-authored publications in flagship journals of (developmental) cognitive neuroscience: Dev Cogn Neurosci. 59: 101192 (2023); eLife. 12: RP89908 (2023); Dev Psychol, in press (2024). Iryna’s results showed that children retain learned associations less robustly over time compared to young adults. Short-delay retention (overnight) is related to structural integrity across brain regions including medial temporal lobe (all parts of hippocampal subfields and entorhinal cortex) and neucortical regions (across prefrontal, parietal, and occipital lobes). This pattern stands in contrast to long-delay retention (across weeks), which is more related to neocortical regions, and only specific regions in the medial temporal lobe (CA1-2 and subiculum of the hippocampus). Functionally, children show less differentiated event-specific mnemonic reinstatement compared to adults, while at the same time rely more on gist-like reinstatement, where events belonging to the same semantic category are neurally represented more similarly. This set of results is novel to the literature, demonstrating for the first time how children differ from adults in memory consolidation, paralleled with structural and functional differences in the brain. Equally as impressive as her research is Dr. Schommartz’s ability to collaborate collegially with her peers in the SFB and mentor junior colleagues. She has initiated collaborations with other projects (e.g., B03 and B05) by sharing her experimental paradigm. There is currently a manuscript under review in collaboration with B05 and more papers are expected in the pipeline.

Dr. Schommartz was a doctoral student during the first funding period of the CRC1315 (B04), and successfully defended her dissertation 15.11.2023. She is currently an associated postdoc in B04. Dr. Schommartz is an exceptional scientist who is making impressive headway in becoming an independent researcher in the field of memory consolidation

Dr. Rosanna Sammons  is awarded the Brenda Milner Award 2024 for significant contributions to research in the CRC1315’s subproject A01. Specifically, Rosanna led a multi-centred collaboration that resulted in publication in the prestigious journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Sammons et al. PNAS, in press). This project brought together large-scale data from multiple research groups, requiring effective coordination and communication to ensure success. Together, the groups looked at the local microcircuitry of CA3 pyramidal neurons using electrophysiology and electron microscopy. Rosanna performed demanding multi-patch electrophysiology experiments to determine a functional readout of the local network connectivity. In coordination with a group at the Max Planck Institute in Frankfurt, high-throughput electron microscopy provided the structural counterpart to the functional data. Both experimental methods showed high connectivity within the pyramidal CA3 population. In addition, computational modelling demonstrated how the experimental evidence supported a role for this circuitry in pattern completion. These results are an important contribution to our understanding of how sub-circuits within the hippocampus support memory processes. Moreover, the work is of particular significance since it validates decades-old assumptions that the CA3 network is richly interconnected, but which was recently put into doubt.

In order to study functional memory processes, it is necessary to understand how the underlying circuitry is structured. Rosanna’s work elucidating microcircuitry within hippocampal sub-regions lays the foundation for further understanding and probing of the roles of these brain areas in memory function. She has further made contributions to other projects including a review on interneuron subtypes in the hippocampus and has recently been awarded a NeuroCure Research Fellowship for her proposal to investigate neuronal plasticity in human neurons.

Dr. Sammons has been an associated postdoc in the first and second funding periods of the CRC1315 (A01). Her insatiable thirst for knowledge, dedication to science, determination to succeed and interest in memory-related neuronal mechanisms are invaluable assets for the Collaborative Research Center SFB 1315. 

Please join us in congratulating Iryna Schommartz and Rosanna Sammons!

Best regards,

Matthew Larkum
SFB1315 Speaker

Participating Institutions