The EPNA 2020 was awarded at the NEURON MidTerm Symposium of the Joint Transnational Call 2018 (Mental Disorders), on January 26th , 2021. He received the award for his publication ‘Sleep increases chromosome dynamics to enable reduction of accumulating DNA damage in single neurons’ published in Nature Communications, 10:895, 2019.
The award emphasizes the importance of research into brain function and its diseases and is designed as a form of support and encouragement for early-career researchers at the early stage of their career.
Dr. Zada is a neuroscientist at the Brain Research Center, Bar-Ilan University, Israel. In his research, he investigates a fundamental question in biomedical research: why do animals sleep? Why sleep has evolved and which fundamental ancestral functions does it regulate.
As he explained: ‘Sleep is vital to animal life and is found in all studied animals, ranging from jelly and humans. Prolonged sleep deprivation can be lethal, fish to worm, fly, zebrafish, rodents, and sleep disturbances are associated with various deficiencies in brain performance. Sleep is regulated by circadian and homeostatic processes, and is coupled with reduced awareness of the environment and a high risk for survival. Several mechanisms can explain the roles of sleep, ranging from macromolecule biosynthesis, energy conservation, and metabolite clearance, to synaptic plasticity and memory consolidation. ‘
With a strong background in Biology and Computer Science, he applies 3D cell biology imaging techniques in live animals to define sleep in a single neuron and showed, for the first time, that single neurons require sleep in order to perform nuclear maintenance.
Dr. Zada smiled: "I am really happy to get this award. Such support is indeed promoting a scientific career." The audience perceived his presentation of experiments and results with rapt attention and both, peer early career scientists and experienced researchers enthused the high-level lecture.
The EPNA is a continuous highlight within the NEURON ‘Early Career Researcher’ program to honor outstanding research achievements by early career researchers. The award honors the first authorship of a researcher under 35 years of age in a high impact journal within the first five years after dissertation. Since 2009 the ERA-NET NEURON launches annual calls for the early-career researchers as supportive measure to add to the research funding activities of the network.