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awards | publications | recognition

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Dr. Charles Ribak Honored with Prestigious Krieg Lifetime Achievement Award at 2023 Cajal Club Social

At the 2023 Cajal Club Social, which was held concurrently with the annual Society of Neuroscience meeting, Dr. Charles Ribak was awarded a Krieg Lifetime Achievement Award. The club's elected officers and board of directors, led by Larry Swanson, presented the honor to him. The recognition reflects Dr. Ribak's decades of commitment and service to the Cajal Club and advancing its goals. Dr. Ribak is a Professor Emeritus within the Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology of the University of California Irvine. He has played a pivotal role in advancing the club's objectives as its president from 2000-2002 and through his impressive 18-year tenure as secretary and treasurer from 2005-2023. His outstanding service underscores his dedication to the club. Dr. Ribak's research in epilepsy, neurogenesis, and neural circuitry has earned him many prestigious awards, including the Michael Prize in Epilepsy, the Klingenstein Fellowship in the Neurosciences, and the Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award.

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Call for Nominations for the Krieg Cortical Kudos for 2024


The Cajal Club is now accepting nominations for the 2024 Krieg Cortical Kudos awards. Celebrating its 38th year, these awards honor neuroscientists at various career stages for their contributions to understanding the cerebral cortex and its connections. With three categories—Cortical Discoverer, Cortical Explorer, and Cortical Scholar—recipients receive monetary prizes, a membership in the Cajal Club, and recognition at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago. Nominations are invited via email to Dr. Patrick R. Hof ( by August 16, 2024.

2023 W. Maxwell Cowan Award Recipient

Paola Arlotta, Ph. D. 

Chair of the Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology and Golub Family Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University

Congratulations to Paola Arlotta, Ph.D., the distinguished Chair of the Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology and Golub Family Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University, for being honored with the prestigious Cowan Award. Celebrated for her groundbreaking contributions to neuroscience, particularly in the programming, reprogramming, and modeling of the mammalian cerebral cortex, Dr. Arlotta's research has illuminated our understanding of neuronal diversity and its pivotal role in critical behaviors. Her innovative approaches to the development and therapeutic potential of neuronal reprogramming promise to revolutionize treatments for neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders, continuing the legacy of W. Maxwell Cowan's dedication to neural development.

2023 Krieg Cortical Kudos

Below are the 2023 winners of the Krieg Cortical Kudos awards in the three categories of Scholar, Explorer and Discoverer.


Heechul Jun 

University of California, Irvine

For his contribution to our understanding the entorhinal-hippocampal circuit, and exploring the brain regions critical for learning and memory at both basic levels and in the disease state. His groundbreaking work on animal models, involving a simple yet elegant spatial and odor-associated rule learning task, allowed for the assessment of neural activity at both the single-cell and population levels and testing their functions at a causal level.

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André M. M. Sousa

Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

André M. M. Sousa has been honored with the Krieg Cortical Explorer award from the Cajal Club for his pioneering work in human brain development and evolution. Educated at the University of Porto and having conducted significant genomic research during his Ph.D. at Yale, Sousa continues to advance our understanding of the brain at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His lab has notably discovered a unique population of inhibitory neurons in humans, distinct in their molecular makeup from those in other primates, capable of producing the neurotransmitter dopamine, which could have far-reaching implications for understanding the complexity of the human brain and the disorders affecting it.




Elly Nedivi

William R. (1964) & Linda R. Young Professor of Neuroscience, The Picower Institute for Learning & Memory, MIT

The Cajal Club has awarded Elly Nedivi the esteemed Krieg Cortical Discoverer Award for her groundbreaking research into brain circuit plasticity. A Ph.D. graduate from Stanford University and with foundational education in Biology and Biochemistry from the Hebrew University in Israel, Nedivi's work focuses on unraveling the complexities of synaptic and neuronal remodeling within the living mouse brain. Her lab is at the forefront of identifying the genetic and cellular mechanisms that facilitate the brain's ability to adapt through the strengthening and pruning of synaptic connections—a fundamental aspect of learning, memory, and overall brain development. Her innovative use of genetic and in vivo imaging techniques continues to provide significant insights into the plastic nature of the brain.

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Dr. Carol Mason Receives Krieg Lifetime Achievement Award

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CAROL MASON, PhDProfessor of Pathology and Cell Biology, Neuroscience and Ophthalmic Science (in Ophthalmology) Principal Investigator and Chair of Interschool Planning at Columbia's Zuckerman Institute


The Krieg Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Dr. Carol Mason at the recent 75th Anniversary celebration of the Cajal Club. This award, which is not given every year, is given infrequently to honor exceptional contributions in the field of science. The award was a unanimous decision made by the Cajal Club Officers and Board of Directors. 


Dr. Larry Swanson presented the award to Dr. Mason, and this award serves as a testament to her outstanding contributions and dedication to the field of science. On behalf of the Cajal Club, we extend our warmest congratulations to Dr. Carol Mason on this well-deserved recognition.

Biography: Dr. Carol Mason is a researcher at Columbia's Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute studies the circuitry of the visual system. She focuses on the retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), which extend from the retina to the thalamus and midbrain, where signals are sent to the visual stations in the cortex. Half of the RGCs send their axons to the same side of the brain while the other half cross over, allowing for binocular vision. Dr. Mason is investigating how the axons know whether to cross over or remain on the same side at the optic chiasm.

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Honoring a Trailblazer: Dr. Carol Mason is presented with the Cajal Club Lifetime Achievement Award by Dr. Larry Swanson at the Anniversary party.

RESEARCHERS HONORED WITH MAJOR AWARDS: Pradel Research Award and French Academy of Sciences Election

Pradel Research Award Winner


Director of the Allen Institute for Brain Science

Zeng is the recipient of the 2023 Pradel Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences, in recognition of her extraordinary contributions to our understanding of cell types and connections in the mammalian brain and her development of systems neuroscience tools and data that are freely available to the research community. 

Zeng’s groundbreaking contributions have led to a better understanding of neuronal diversity and neural circuits. Her research includes the development of transgenic mouse lines for marking and manipulating specific neuronal types, analysis of connectivity among brain areas with particular emphasis on connections between thalamus and cortex, and the use of single cell molecular methods to classify and characterize neurons and non-neuronal cells in cortex and other parts of the brain.


Elected to the French Academy of Sciences



Professor, Collège de France PI Brain Development and Plasticity Institut de Biologie de l'Ecole Normale Superieure (IBENS)

Sonia Garel is a developmental neurobiologist. She currently heads a team at the Institut of Biology of the Ecole Normale Superieure (IBENS) in Paris and is a Professor at the College de France. Her research focuses on the mechanisms that control the assembly of cortical circuits during development, with a particular interest on the roles of microglia, interactions with the immune system and environmental signals, such as the microbiota. Using a combination of experimental approaches she explores how transient interactions between neuronal and immune cells shape circuit wiring in physiological and pathological conditions.

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Dual Honors as Palay Award Recipient and New Cajal Club President

Palay Award Winner


Professor of Psychology, UC Davis

Leah Krubitzer is a renowned neuroscientist and Professor of Psychology at UC Davis, where she also leads the Laboratory of Evolutionary Neurobiology. Her research focuses on the evolution of complex brains in mammals and the anatomical and electrophysiological characteristics of neocortex neurons. By conducting comparative studies, she aims to explain the diversity of mammalian behavioral and perceptual abilities through investigating the role of evolutionary old developmental mechanisms.

Passing the Gavel

While Pasko Rakic (back) looks ahead, Charles Ribak, Cajal Club Treasurer (left) officiates the transition of the elected Cajal Club President, Leah Krubitzer (right), into her role. Leah will assume the office Carol Mason has held for the past two years.

It is with great pleasure that I announce the election of Leah Krubitzer as the new President of the Cajal Club. Leah will be succeeding Carol Mason, who has held the position with distinction for the past two years. Carol's leadership and hard work have greatly contributed to the success of the club, and we are grateful for all that she has done. Leah has a long history of achievements and contributions to the field of neuroscience and is a well-respected member of the scientific community.

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Several prizes are awarded by the Cajal Club in different categories. The Krieg Cortical Kudos recognize outstanding scientists working on the cerebral cortex at three levels: the established investigator (Discoverer), the young professional who has received an advanced professional degree within the ten year period prior to the time of nomination (Explorer), and the recent PhD graduate no more than two years beyond obtaining their advanced degree (Scholar). Learn more on our Awards page, link below.

2022 Krieg Cortical Kudos

Below are the 2022 winners of the Krieg Cortical Kudos awards in the three categories of Scholar, Explorer and Discoverer.




For his outstanding contributions to our understanding of the role that primary and secondary somatosensory cortex play in context-dependent sensory processing. His development of a platform for population-wide functional imaging combined with spatial transcriptomics has illuminated activity patterns across and local connectivity between cortical cell types.

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For his superb contributions to our understanding of the neuroscience of behavior, social learning, and anatomical pathways involved in group sociality and communication are recognized with this award. Remarkable and illuminating, his work on the bat studying complex spatial behavior cojoins efforts to assess neural activity, vocalizations, and social interactions from large groups of bats simultaneously. Photo credit, Adam Lau.






For his many superb contributions to our understanding of the development of circuitry in the hindbrain and cerebellum to and from the cortex, as well as his discovery and functional analysis of axon guidance receptors in these structures and in the spinal cord, are recognized by this award. Your employment of tissue clearing approaches to reveal unsuspected cellular organization of the brain and other tissues, as well as his elucidation of the evolution of bilateral visual projections in ancient fish, are in the spirit of the KCK award and of the Cajal Club itself. Photo credit, Lardhuin/Sorbonne Université/Institut de la Vision.

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For his outstanding contributions to our understanding of cortical development are recognized by this award. The generation and differentiation of specific subtypes of neocortical and thalamic neurons is driven by gene expression programs, which are probed by clever tools he developed in order to elucidate how sensory experience regulates these programs during development. His work showed how important both dynamic input-dependent and cell-intrinsic factors are for circuit assembly and how they change each other in the mammalian neocortex.

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