Canadian scientist wins Eppendorf & Science prize

For his research on maternal and paternal gene expression in the brain

Canadian scientist Christopher Gregg, a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University, has won the Eppendorf & Science Prize for Neurobiology 2010.

Gregg won the US$25,000 prize for his research on maternal and paternal gene expression in the brain. His work focuses on genes that alter their expression in the brains of offspring according to whether they were inherited from the mother or father. Surprisingly, maternally and paternally inherited chromosomes are not functionally equivalent, due to heritable epigenetic marks established in the parental gametes, called genomic imprints.

Gregg developed a novel method to profile gene expression from maternally versus paternally inherited gene copies expressed in the brain using high-throughput sequencing technologies. He used this approach to profile parent specific gene expression programmes in the adult cortex and hypothalamus, the developing foetal brain, as well as to compare the male and female brain.

His results suggest mothers and fathers play distinct roles in regulating the development and adult behaviour of their offspring. These findings raise questions about how maternal versus paternal gene expression programmes in the brain influence brain development, function and susceptibility to complex diseases such as autism and schizophrenia as well as eating disorders.

Eppendorf and the journal Science sponsor the annual international award, which is open to all scientists who are 35 years of age or younger and who have made outstanding contributions to neurobiological research.

The next deadline for applications is 15 June 2011.

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