The first ever Eric Kandel Young Neuroscientists Prize was presented to Dr Fisher at a gala ceremony in Zurich on 6 October. Dr Fisher receives € 50,000 in recognition of exceptional contributions to neuroscience research as well as up to €25,000 to support further career development.
The jury awarded Dr Fisher the prize for his investigations into molecular mechanisms underlying speech and language, and his discovery of a gene critical to language acquisition.
They said Simon Fisher 'not only has a very successful research and publishing record, but his main research findings have opened up a new field of brain research'.
The new award has been established by the Frankfurt-based Hertie Foundation, one of the three largest private sponsors of brain research in Europe, to recognize outstanding work of young neuroscientists and to support the next generation of researchers. It is named after Professor Eric Kandel, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2000, who handed the award to Dr Fisher at the ceremony.
Dr Fisher's research at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford focuses on how speech- and language-related genes influence the brain. In 2001, Dr Fisher and Professor Anthony Monaco were able to identify a gene known as FOXP2 that was linked to an inherited speech-related disorder. His research since then has focused on using the gene as a unique window into neural mechanisms related to speech/language.