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Prof. L. Kaczmarek and Prof. A. Dziembowski won TEAM competition


lkaczmarekProf. Leszek Kaczmarek (in the middle) (photo by Magdalena Wiśniewska-Krasińska)

Prof. Leszek Kaczmarek (Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology of the Polish Academy of Sciences) and Prof. Andrzej Dziembowski (PAS Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics) are among 9 research leaders to have won the first competition in TEAM program run by the Foundation for Polish Science, offering support to teams engaging in ground-breaking research.

The winners of the recent edition of TEAM competition will share total funding amounting to more than PLN 29 million. Winning research projects will be carried out in cooperation with 17 foreign partners. Future editions of TEAM will be organized twice a year until 2019; the next competition will be launched on 15 November 2016.
The TEAM program allows outstanding researchers to do top-level research inspired by the newest developments in world science and devoted to the most pressing issues in science and economy. According to Michał Pietras, executive at the Foundation for Polish Science, the program also offers a chance to build partnerships and support scientific exchange with the best research institutions worldwide, foster young talents and increase the potential of Polish scientists.
The funding provided by the Foundation for Polish Science will cover the costs of employing at least 40 scientists and offering over 30 scholarships to young scientists working at research projects (under-graduate and post-graduate students). The funding extends to the period of 3 years. The candidates were evaluated by foreign referees and two panels – a panel consisting of experts in science and economy and an interdisciplinary panel.
Prof. Leszek Kaczmarek, Dean of PAS Division II: Biological and Agricultural Sciences, was granted almost PLN 3.5 million for the project entitled “Understanding addictions: appetitive learning and the synaptic plasticity of the amygdalae”. It will be realized by a team of six scientists.
“The brain is the most complicated work of nature we know of. Understanding its functions, especially the control over our behavior, may be the biggest challenge faced by the science today”, says Prof. Kaczmarek. “Emotions are responsible for a very important part of behavior, controlled by the amygdalae. Remembering events of different emotional value defines whether we want something or try to avoid it”, explains the scientist. His project aims at identifying specific sets of neurons collecting memories of positive experiences (appetitive memory) in the amygdalae, steering behaviors linked to following positive stimuli. The team expects their research to provide stron arguments in favor of developing new therapies of complex behavior disorders such as those leading to obesity, anorexia, or addictions. The project employs state-of-the-art methods available thanks to the latest developments in molecular biology in order to generate image of single brain cell activity. This method was invented by Prof. Kaczmarek’s research partner, Dr. Rui Costa (Champalimaud Center for the Unknown in Lisbon).
The 2016 TEAM competition is a new, improved version of the program run by the Foundation for Polish Science since 2008. In previous edition, a total of 73 research teams received funding and more than 200 beneficiaries cooperated within the frames of winner projects. The results were presented in almost 1,900 scientific publications; they also brought about numerous patents.
Source: FNP