The Chilean scientist Gonzalo Torres, a PhD in neurobiology and assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, was distinguished with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for his research into neurological issues. The official decoration will take place in the White House within two months, in the presence of US President Barack Obama, who will personally present the distinction.
Thus, the Chilean professional is one of the 100 winners of the 2008 awards. In addition, Torres has received one of the 12 grants provided by the US National Institute of Health (NIH), which will allow him to continue his neurological research for up to five years, specifically focusing on the regulation of dopamine in the brain and its relation to psychiatric disorders and drug addiction.
“An award like this one is particularly important for the faculties of young members like Dr. Torres, who are still developing their labs and researching issues,” dean of the University of Pittsburgh Raynard S. Kington said to the local press.
“In Gonzalo’s case, his intuitive work suggesting that the organization of neuronal transportation was more complicated than what had been thought offers new clues regarding the development of therapies for illnesses like schizophrenia, Parkinson’s and drug addiction,” the academic added.
It should be noted that the PECASE awards were created in 1996 by former President Bill Clinton and that they constitute the highest acknowledgement that young science and engineering professionals in the United States can aspire to. They are awarded based on an analysis of criteria related to innovation, commitment, and community service, among others.