Ipsen prize for Tim Bliss

31 January 2013

Tim Bliss, formerly head of NIMR's Division of Neurophysiology, has been named as one of the recipients of this year’s Fondation Ipsen Prize for Neuronal Plasticity.

The prize is awarded annually for work on brain development, synaptogenesis, ageing, neural regeneration, cognition and brain growth factors among other things. This year the citation is for research on "Mechanisms of Memory". Tim Bliss shares the prize with Richard Morris, Royal Society/Wolfson Professor of Neuroscience at Edinburgh University, and Professor Yadin Dudai of the Weizmann Institute, Israel.

Tim Bliss (pictured) has been a key figure in neuroscience research at NIMR, leading a productive and internationally renowned research program at Mill Hill spanning four decades. He joined the staff of NIMR in 1967, bringing with him a keen interest in the neural basis of learning and memory. It was his seminal work with Terje Lømo in Per Andersen’s lab in Oslo a few years later that uncovered the phenomenon of synaptic long-term-potentiation (LTP), one of the major cellular processes underlying learning and memory. He published the first detailed account of LTP in 1973. Tim’s work generated many important further questions such as: how long could LTP last; what were the molecular mechanisms of LTP; was the origin pre-synaptic (an increase in transmitter release) or post-synaptic (an increase in response to transmitter) or both; could LTP be evoked and detected at a single synapse. Over his productive career Tim and his many colleagues and collaborators have provided answers to many of these questions. Tim’s contributions to neuroscience have been widely recognised.

Tim was elected FRS in 1994 and he has become one of the most prominent and highly cited neuroscientists in the world, with numerous prizes, honours and awards. He became Head of the Division of Neurophysiology in 1988, and head of the Neurosciences Group in 1996 and he has nurtured a generation of neuroscientists now flourishing in labs all over the world. Although Tim formally retired in 2006 he continues as a visiting worker. He was invited to deliver the Royal Society’s annual Croonian Lecture in 2012.

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