ALBA-Roche Research Prize 2024 Winner

Dr Mootaz Salman Awarded Inaugural ALBA-Roche Research Prize for Excellence in Neuroscience




“Receiving the Inaugural ALBA-Roche Research Prize for Excellence in Neuroscience is a tremendous honour, and I am grateful for all the trailblazing scientists who inspired me and led by example in my early years, as well as my lab members, all the amazing colleagues, and others who I have been privileged to teach, collaborate with, and hopefully inspire. I think we’re only beginning to glimpse what organ-on-a-chip and humanised models can achieve in the field of neurodegeneration and neuroscience in general, and so this award is a huge motivation for me and my team to keep pushing forward our work in this area.  Our work will hopefully provide new tools to understand lifelong brain health, describe the basis of blood-brain barrier (dys)function in the occurrence and development of dementia, and provide a platform to develop new treatments for neurodegeneration.” - Dr Mootaz Salman

Brussels, 25 March 2024Dr Mootaz Salman from the University of Oxford, UK, has been awarded the inaugural ALBA-Roche Research Prize for Excellence in Neuroscience in recognition of his exceptional contributions to neurodegenerative disease research and innovation. Supported by Roche and presented by the ALBA Network, this prestigious prize recognises outstanding research by mid-career scientists from underrepresented backgrounds, whose work focuses on the nervous system and may improve our understanding of the causal mechanisms of brain diseases.

Prof. Carmen Sandi (EPFL, Switzerland), co-chair of the ALBA-Roche Prize Selection Committee, expressed, “Dr Salman emerged as the deserving recipient of this prize due to his transformative work in advancing our understanding of central nervous system (CNS) disorders. The aim of the prize is to promote inclusivity and recognition in the scientific community, fostering a more comprehensive understanding of neurological research and its potential impact on brain health.” Prof. Gilles Laurent (Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Germany), co-chair of the ALBA-Roche Prize Selection Committee added, “Dr Salman's exceptional journey from Mosul to Oxford, via Sheffield Hallam and Harvard universities, coupled with his remarkable achievements, serves as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring scientists, highlighting the power of perseverance, resilience, and scientific brilliance in shaping the future of neuroscience.” 

Dr Salman's distinguished career has resulted in ground-breaking research that addresses the escalating rates of CNS injuries and associated dementia globally. His collaborative work introduces a pioneering method for targeting aquaporin-4 (AQP4) subcellular localization, challenging existing paradigms and offering promising drug repurposing avenues. This work, published in Cell with a follow-up study at BBA, has led to the preparation of the drug candidate for a phase I/II human clinical trial for traumatic brain injury and stroke. Investigations into the drug's effects during stroke reveal its efficacy in reducing cerebral edema, presenting a potential therapeutic pathway. His contributions to microfluidic engineering have validated a 3D organ-on-a-chip model for studying the blood-brain barrier, uncovering the transport mechanism of FDA-approved therapeutic antibodies, and paving the way for innovative neurodegenerative disease treatments in the future.

Currently holding a Medical Research Council (MRC) Career Development Fellowship at the University of Oxford Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG), Dr Salman's multifaceted roles include Group Leader in Cellular Neuroscience, Departmental Research Lecturer, and Senior Research Fellow at Wolfson College. His impactful career has earned him numerous awards, including the David Hague Early Career Investigator of the Year Award 2024, the Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) 2024 President’s Medal for the Cell Biology Section, the National Medal of Distinctive Scientific Achievement by the Government of Iraq in 2022, and the International Society of Neurochemistry (ISN) and APSN Young Neuroscientist Lectureship Award in 2022, among other global recognitions.

Beyond academic achievements, Dr Salman's commitment to public engagement and outreach is evident through several keynote speeches at major international conferences and a TEDx talk, "Can 3D models of brain-on-a-chip help us develop new treatments for incurable diseases?"

The award will be presented to Dr Mootaz Salman at a dedicated ceremony during the FENS Forum 2024 in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday, 27 June 2024, from 17:15 to 17:30 CET.

Warmest congratulations from the ALBA-Roche Research Prize Selection Committee,

Carmen Sandi, Co-Chair (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland)

Gilles Laurent, Co-Chair (Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Germany)

Abdel El Manira (Karolinska Institutet, Sweden)

Amadi Ihunwo (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa)

Carlos Ribeiro (Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Portugal)

Elisabeth Binder (Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Germany)

Flavia Gomes (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Hailan Hu (Zhejiang University, China)

Mauro Costa-Mattioli (Baylor College of Medicine, USA)

Vidita Vaidya (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, India)

Sonja Kleinlogel (F. Hoffmann-La Roche LTD, Switzerland)


About the ALBA Network

The ALBA Network is a growing and highly dynamic movement in the neuroscientific community committed to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in brain sciences. ALBA engages in a range of globally focused DEI initiatives aimed at counteracting bias, empowering individuals and organisations to embrace equity, and tackling underrepresentation of women, racial and ethnic minorities and members of other disadvantaged groups in (neuro)science and academia. ALBA has a global reach with over 1900 members from 91 countries worldwide, which also reflects its close relationships with its founding partners – the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS), the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN). ALBA is a division of FENS, an international non-profit association that serves as the main organization representing neuroscience in Europe.


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