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British Neuroscience Association prize awarded to Bristol student

Press release issued: 3 October 2003

An undergraduate student at the University of Bristol has been awarded the prestigious British Neuroscience Association (BNA) prize for his significant contribution to neuroscience.

A student at the University of Bristol has been awarded the prestigious British Neuroscience Association (BNA) prize for undergraduate students.  Simon Ball was deemed to 'have made a significant contribution to neuroscience and have achieved an outstanding performance' in the subject. 

The prize, presented annually, is highly competitive.  This year the standard was so high that the judges felt everyone on the shortlist should be recognised for their achievements, and so Simon and two other students received the £250 prize.  

Simon works with Dr Elek Molnar in the MRC Centre for Synaptic Plasticity.  The Centre aims to understand the role of synaptic plasticity in learning and memory, and the ways these processes are affected by conditions such as Alzheimer's Disease and epilepsy. 

Simon's own interests lie in the molecular and cellular neuroscience of glutamate receptor regulation.  Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system and receptors for glutamate enable nerve cells to communicate by the process of synaptic transmission. 

Although much has been learnt about glutamate receptors, one type - kainate receptors - has not been extensively studied.  In his final year project, Simon investigated developmental changes in the molecular organisation and redistribution of kainate receptors.  His findings help widen our knowledge of their role in synaptic communication. 

Simon now plans to continue his career in neuroscience.  He said: “I am just about to start my PhD which will extend the work from my undergraduate project.  This will be funded by a three year MRC studentship with Elek as my supervisor, and Dr John Isaac, also in the MRC centre, as co-supervisor.  Looking further ahead, I hope to stay in research and continue my interests in molecular neuroscience".

With his first paper already published and another in preparation, Simon looks well on the way to a highly successful neuroscientific career. 

The spring edition of the BNA newsletter will include a special write-up about the winners. 


Gallyas F Jr, Ball SM, Molnar E., Assembly and cell surface expression of KA-2 subunit-containing kainate receptors. J Neurochem. 2003 Sep;86(6):1414-27. 


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