Visual neuroscientist honoured with top award

2 Aug 2010

A leading visual neuroscientist from the Queensland Brain Institute has been awarded the 2010 Boycott Prize for career achievement in the field of retinal neuroscience.

Professor David Vaney was honoured for his research investigating the structure and function of the retina at a Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology research conference on ‘Retinal Neurobiology and Visual Processing’, held in Vermont, USA.

“I was particularly delighted to receive the Prize because it is named after Professor Brian Boycott FRS, with whom I collaborated early in my career,” Professor Vaney said.

QBI Director Professor Perry Bartlett added his congratulations: “It is indeed an honour for David to be the first researcher from Australia to receive this prestigious international award. Moreover, he is the first sole recipient of the Boycott Prize in its 10 year history.”

Professor Vaney’s laboratory is studying how the retina processes visual information by recording the visual response properties of different types of retinal output neurons. Researchers then analyse how the responses are generated by interactions between the excitatory and inhibitory inputs from retinal interneurons.

“The retina has been described as ‘nature’s brain slice’ because its structure and function remain largely intact when the retina is studied in isolation,” Professor Vaney explained.

“Many discoveries first made in the retina were later shown to apply to other parts of the central nervous system so the retina is an outstanding model for studying how relatively simple neuronal circuits perform complex operations.”

The Boycott Prize is widely seen as a fitting tribute to Professor Vaney, who has played a leading role in the discipline of neuroscience, both at The University of Queensland and nationally.