The 13th Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize recipients were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology. The recipients, Professor Edvard Moser and Professor May-Britt Moser, are director and co-director, respectively, of the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience and they jointly lead the Centre for the Biology of Memory at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway. They received the honor for their discovery of specialized brain cells that form a kind of positioning system or a map in the brain that helps to navigate and organize cognitive plans and memories.
The Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize is named after long-time UNC professor Edward Perl, MD, who discovered that a specific type of sensory neuron responded to painful stimuli. Before this, scientists thought that neurons responded to all stimuli and then the pain responses were sorted out in the spinal cord. The discovery had a major impact on the field of pain research, particularly in the development of pain medications. To date, five out of 14 Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize winners have won a Noble Prize.