“The Hector Science Award means a lot to me,” Prof Amunts said in a press release. “The prize helps to make our research more visible and move ahead with renewed energy.”
She currently holds three directorships across the University of Düsseldorf, Forschungszentrum Jülich and the Human Brain Project, a ten-year EU Flagship project bringing together cutting-edge brain research and computer modelling and simulation.
In her own research, she and her team are developing three-dimensional atlases or ‘maps’ of the human brain. They do this by slicing real brains into thousands of ultra-thin layers and staining their cells before digitally reconstructing them as a volume. This allows them to see the minute details of the brain and find areas that differ in their structure on the microscopic level, indicating that they might work in a different way or perform a separate function.
So far, Prof Amunts has mapped over 200 brain areas. On top of the cellular and structural information, new aspects such as molecular or genetic information are constantly being added through collaborations within the Human Brain Project.
By virtue of winning the prize, Prof Amunts is now one of 26 eminent research scientists known as ‘Hector Fellows’, all of whom are members of the Hector Fellow Academy, an interdisciplinary research network. Through the Academy, she will also receive funding for a doctoral student under her supervision.
(© Emilie Steinmark / AcademiaNet / Spektrum.de)