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Aucklander wins international neuroscience award

19 October 2005

Young Aucklander first ever southern hemisphere scientist to win international neuroscience award

A University of Auckland neurobiologist has become the first southern hemisphere scientist to be awarded a prestigious Eppendorf and Science Prize for Neurobiology, for her research into how our brains are wired.

Born and raised in New Zealand, Dr Montgomery, was one of four award winners selected by some of the world's foremost researchers in the field of neurobiology and the Editor-in-Chief of the world's leading scientific journal - Science.

The winners were selected based on an essay, to be published in Science, outlining their research in the past three years together with their CVs.

Dr Montgomery, recently appointed a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, is researching the synapses or circuitry that wires the human brain. This circuitry underpins human behaviour, understanding, learning and memory.

"I have identified how these synapses change and form over time. I have also shown that the information-carrying abilities of the synapses is far greater than previously thought."

Dr Montgomery will travel to Washington DC next month for the award presentation.

The University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon, congratulated Dr Montgomery on her outstanding achievement.

"This highly celebrated award is for neuroscientists who have received their PhD in the last ten years. Johanna's success illustrates that she is among the leading young neuroscientists in the world and that she has an enormous contribution to make."


Dr. Johanna Montgomery was born and raised in New Zealand. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science Honours Degree (First Class) in 1995 and a Ph.D. in Physiology in 1999. During her Ph.D. training Dr. Montgomery also studied in the US, then began several years postdoctoral work at Stanford University. In 2001 Dr Montgomery was a recipient of the International Union of Physiological Sciences 'Distinguished Young Investigator Award'.

In 2004 she returned to New Zealand as a Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience where she has established the 'Synaptic Function Research Group' at The University of Auckland. She has successfully received funding for her work from the Health Research Council of New Zealand, The Marsden Fund, The New Zealand Lotteries Health Board, The Auckland Medical Research Foundation, The Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust and The University of Auckland Staff Research Fund.


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