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ELSC congratulates Dr. David Omer for winning the prestigious ERC Synergy Grant

The Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences is delighted to announce that Dr. David Omer won the prestigious Synergy Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). The €10 million grant will be shared with 3 other PI’s (Valery Grinevich, Zentralinstitut Fuer Seelische Gesundheit; Angela Sirigu, Centre National De La Recherche Scientifique CNRS; Dori Derdikman, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology), for a research proposal which aims to understand how Oxytocin, a neurohormone, modulates neuronal circuits in the hippocampus to integrate representations of space geometry with representations of social factors to perceive a territory. The research will be conducted over the course of the next 6 years.

Oxytocin is known to increase social activity in mammals and has recently been found to modulate neural activity also in the hippocampus. But its potential role in shaping neural circuits for territoriality has not yet been studied. The team, composed of experts in complementary fields of neuroscience, will study similarities and differences in the way neural circuits for territoriality in the hippocampus are used by five mammalian species which exhibit very different territorial behaviors: bats, mice, rats, marmosets, and macaques. Their new cross-species perspective will be the first to provide insights on the neural circuits in the brain that are involved in territorial behavior in mammals – including humans.

The ERC Synergy Grant, awarded annually, is given to a group of two to four researchers working together and bringing different skills and resources to tackle ambitious research problems. Read more about the ERC Synergy Grant 2022 here.

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