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The award recognises Holt for her pioneering work to shed light on the role of local protein synthesis in neuronal development and function.

Christine Holt, Professor Emerita of Developmental Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge receives this award jointly with Erin Schuman, Professor of Neurobiology at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research. Their work has provided important insights about the way nerve cells are guided over long distances, from the eye to the brain, and how specific regions of nerve cells may change during learning and memory. 

Schuman and Holt have developed imaginative cellular and molecular approaches to study how the translation of messenger RNA into protein can be localized to specific regions of a nerve cell. Local translation is a fundamental process for the normal function of neurons, and has emerged as critical for understanding the etiology of many neurodevelopmental disorders, including Fragile X syndrome and some autism spectrum disorders. The synergistic, transformative efforts of these two investigators have not only established that local protein synthesis is a fundamental feature of neuronal function but also provide molecular answers to key questions about learning and memory in the brain. 

Holt’s investigations of how connections are formed between neurons during development identified molecules in axons mediating their navigation from eye to brain. Her work revealed that changing subsets of mRNAs in axons are locally and dynamically translated to implement axon growth to their distant synaptic targets.

Schuman developed elegant tools for tracking and identifying newly synthesized proteins in young and mature dendrites. Her explorations of the detailed mechanisms of local protein synthesis have expanded our understanding of how very large neurons control their protein compositions throughout their extended processes.

Schuman and Holt will present their Rosenstiel Award lectures at Brandeis on April 24, 2023.

The Rosenstiel Award has had a distinguished record of identifying and honoring pioneering scientists who subsequently are honored with the Lasker and Nobel Prizes. Thirty-eight of 93 Rosenstiel Award winners have later won the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology or in Chemistry. In 2021, Robert Singer was honored for his studies of the ways messenger RNAs are transcribed and transported to specific locations in the cytoplasm of cells, often far from the nucleus. In 2020, the Rosenstiel Award was the first of many prizes conferred on Katalin Karikó and Drew Weismann ’81, MA’81, P’15, for their pioneering work in the development of RNA vaccines.

A full list of awardees can be found on the Rosenstiel Award website.

Date awarded

20 October 2022

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Professor Christine Holt