CBR scientist awarded Rutherford Discovery Fellowship

Posted by Laura Fogg

A Rutherford Discovery Fellowship, supporting New Zealand’s most talented young researchers, has been awarded to Dr Donna Rose Addis from the Centre for Brain Research.

The inaugural fellowships, providing ten early-to-mid career researchers with up to $200,000 annually for the next five years, were announced at the national Research Honours Dinner in Christchurch on November 10th. Dr Addis is a cognitive neuroscientist from the Department of Psychology and Centre for Brain Research whose fellowship will support her research into the constructive nature of memory.

“Our memories seem to play out like movies but they’re actually stored as fragments in different areas of the brain, and when we remember we have to put all the pieces back together again,” she explains. “Storing memories in this way also allows the fragments to be used when we imagine future events.”

“One part of the brain – the hippocampus – is critical in reconstructing memories and constructing future events. My research will use neuroimaging to learn more about the role that the hippocampus plays. I will also look specifically at how depression may impair the ability of the hippocampus to construct memories and imagine.”

The Rutherford Discovery Fellowships were launched this year and are expected to have significant value to the future career of the recipient. The five years of funding is extremely valuable for young scientists as it will allow them to concentrate on their research, grow their laboratories, and meet research costs. “Having a secure period of funding gives you the time to step back and look at the bigger picture. It gives you the freedom to be creative and try new things, and quite often that is when interesting breakthroughs occur,” says Dr Addis.