Jacob P. Waletzky Award Demo


The Jacob P. Waletzky award recognizes a young scientist whose independent research has led to significant conceptual and empirical contributions to the understanding of drug addiction. The award is endowed by The Waletzky Family and The Waletzky Award Prize Fund. The recipient receives a $30,000 award and complimentary registration and travel to SfN’s annual meeting.

Ian Maze, a professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, is an internationally recognized expert in the field of neuroepigenetics and his work in the addiction field has been transformative. His research bridges the gap between chromatin biochemistry and applied neuroscience, which has completely changed the way the field thinks about epigenetic-related phenomena in the brain. In graduate school, Maze discovered that histone methylation epigenetically controls the expression of genes that determine which type of dopamine receptor striatal neurons go on to express. He also found that histone methylation regulates medium spiny neurons’ responses to cocaine, which, in turn, contributes to addictive behaviors. As a post-doctoral researcher, Maze revealed the dynamics and highly regulated turnover of histones and nucleosomes, a fundamental new insight into gene regulation in the developing and adult brain. In his own lab, his multidisciplinary approach includes state-of-the-art genomic and proteomic methods and biochemical approaches coupled with complex animal behavioral procedures. He recently discovered a novel role for serotonin and dopamine in the direct regulation of gene expression and protein function through a process called monoaminylation. This work is a paradigm shift in the understanding of how these neurotransmitters operate in the brain, how they influence the most basic and important processes of the central nervous system, and the consequences of altered monoamine levels in addiction and disease. Maze was named an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, one of the youngest researchers to currently hold this incredibly prestigious position. He has blended two interrelated disciplines and inspired a renewed interest in exploring fundamental aspects of chromatin biology as they relate to neuronal function. (Society for Neuroscience, 2022)