Professor John O’Keefe, Director of the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre, has been named as one of the recipients of the 2014 Nobel Prize for his discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain.
His discovery of 'place cells' in the hippocampus made a major impact on neuroscience and has played a vital role in our understanding of memory and navigation. Professor O’Keefe shares the award with Edvard Moser and May-Britt Moser.
Lord David Sainsbury, Settlor of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the Gatsby Trustees are thrilled by the news. Peter Hesketh, Director of the Foundation, said: “I am delighted that John O’Keefe has won the Nobel Prize. We enjoy working closely with John and greatly appreciate his invaluable input in the development of the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre. I look forward to the next chapter where he recruits outstanding researchers to join him in the Centre.”
Dr Sarah Caddick, Neuroscience Advisor to Lord Sainsbury and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, said: “John is a world leader in neuroscience and I am delighted that the Nobel Committee has recognised his work. It is an extremely exciting period for neuroscience. Under John's leadership, the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre promises to make a significant contribution towards our understanding of how the complex behaviours arise from seemingly simple circuits within our brains."
The Sainsbury Wellcome Centre is the result of a partnership between the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the Wellcome Trust to establish a new research centre in neural circuits and behaviour at UCL. Sainsbury Wellcome Centre neuroscientists will use state-of-the-art molecular and cellular biology, imaging, electrophysiology and behavioural techniques, supported by computational modelling, to find out how brain circuits process information to create neural representations and guide behaviour. The Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit, under the leadership of Professor Peter Dayan, will be a central part of the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre.