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Cowan and Palay Awards

Established in 2004 by the esteemed publisher Wiley-Blackwell, The Cowan and Palay Awards stand as prestigious tributes to the distinguished contributions of two former editors-in-chief of the Journal of Comparative Neurology. These awards honor their unparalleled commitment to advancing neuroanatomy, solidifying their legacy in the field.

Our current Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Patrick Hof, has the privilege of presenting these awards annually, symbolizing a continued devotion to the standards and ideals these pioneers of neuroscience uphold.

The presentation ceremony holds a prestigious place in the Cajal Club Social, a sophisticated gathering held during the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting. This event not only honors the past but also encourages the present to shape the future of neuroscience.

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W. Maxwell Cowan

W. Maxwell Cowan was the editor-in-chief from 1968-1980, then he went on to be the founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neuroscience, and the chief scientific officer of the Howard Hughes Medical Institutes. Dr. Cowan studied the connections of the hippocampus and developed anterograde tracer methods, but the main focus during his scientific career was on the development of visual system connections with the midbrain, including the effect of target tissue on determining neuronal trajectories and survival. The Cowan Award is given in odd-numbered years to a neuroscientist for outstanding work in neural development.

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Sanford L. Palay

Sanford L. Palay was the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Comparative Neurology from 1980-1993. He was a professor of anatomy at Harvard Medical School and then professor emeritus during that tenure. Dr. Palay was one of the earliest scientists to turn electron microscopy onto the nervous system, and in 1954 with George Palade provided the first descriptions of vertebrate synapses at the EM level. Dr. Palay did groundbreaking studies on the fine structure of the cerebellum, and co-authored with Alan Peters and Henry deForest Webster the classic text, "The Fine Structure of the Nervous System." The Palay Award is given in even-numbered years to a neuroscientist for outstanding contributions in the structure of the nervous system.

Previous winners have included:​

COWAN AWARD RECIPIENTS

2023

  • Paola Arlotta

2021

  • John Rubenstein

  • Luis Puelles

2019

  • Joshua R. Sanes

2017

  • Fred H. Gage

2015

  • Mary Beth Hatten

2013

  • Pasko Rakic

2011

  • Special Cowan Lifetime Achievement Award: Edward G. (Ted) Jones

  • Marc Tessier-Lavigne

2009

  • Thomas M. Jessell

2007

  • Andrew Lumsden

2005

  • Carla J. Shatz

PALAY AWARD RECIPIENTS

2022

  • Leah Krubitzer

2020

  • Ann M. Graybiel

2018

  • Kristen M. Harris

2016

  • Special Palay Lifetime Achievement Award: Floyd E. Bloom

2016

  • John H. Morrison

2014

  • Ray Guillery Jon Kaas

2012

  • Clifford Saper

2010

  • Peter Somogyi

2008

  • Harvey J. Karten

2006

  • Tomas Hokfelt Kjell Fuxe

2004

  • Alan Peters

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