Home Mind & Brain First Israeli Scientist, Hebrew University Professor Haim Sompolinsky, Awarded Prestigious 2024 Brain Prize by Lundbeck Foundation

First Israeli Scientist, Hebrew University Professor Haim Sompolinsky, Awarded Prestigious 2024 Brain Prize by Lundbeck Foundation

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Hebrew University of Jerusalem Professor Haim Sompolinsky was named the first Israeli scientist to receive the prestigious Brain Prize from the Lundbeck Foundation in 2024, the world’s largest award given to pioneers in the neuroscience field.

Professor Sompolinsky, a physicist and neuroscience researcher at the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Neuroscience (ELSC) at the Hebrew University (Emeritus) and professor at the Center for Brain Science at Harvard University, will share the $1,412,066 prize (1.3 million euros) with Professor Larry Abbott at Columbia University and Professor Terrence Sejnowski at the Salk Institute (U.S.).

Sompolinsky is renowned for his groundbreaking work in theoretical and computational neuroscience, particularly in the study of neural circuit dynamics in the brain. His research has significantly contributed to our understanding of how neural circuits process and encode information, map the external world, and participate in learning and memory. Through a combination of theoretical and computational approaches, his work has elucidated key computational principles underlying brain function.

The Brain Prize, initiated in 2011 and awarded annually by the Lundbeck Foundation, is the largest award in neuroscience. It recognises researchers whose work has advanced the field, from fundamental research to clinical applications. Prof. Sompolinsky’s research not only deepens our knowledge of the brain’s inner workings but also holds promise for applications in brain-inspired artificial intelligence.

“Professor Sompolinsky’s Brain Prize triumph is a testament to his pioneering contributions in computational neuroscience, unravelling neural circuit dynamics and laying the foundation for insights into information processing,” said Professor Asher Cohen, President of the Hebrew University. “This recognition not only honours his exceptional achievements but serves as a beacon, guiding us towards further revelations at the intersection of neuroscience and computation.” The 2024 Brain Prize will be presented to the three winners in a ceremony in Copenhagen, Denmark, in June.

Professor Haim Sompolinsky is the son of the late Prof. David Sompolinsky, who was born in Denmark and, together with friends from the Danish Underground, saved hundreds of Danish Jews from Nazi persecution in October 1943 by smuggling them via fishing boats to a safe haven in Sweden.

Regarding the prize, Prof. Sompolinsky said, “I am deeply honored to have been recognised with the Brain Prize 2024, an award that underscores the central contribution of theoretical and computational neuroscience to brain science. This distinction also allows me to highlight the pioneering efforts of the Hebrew University in fostering the development of interdisciplinary brain research.”

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