Graham Diering, assistant professor of cell biology and physiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, wants to answer the question of why we sleep. Not the “because we’re tired” kind of answer but a deeper investigation of the cellular mechanisms of sleep as crucial factors in our ability think clearly and consolidate memories.
Diering wrote an essay titled “Sleep on It” about his work and was selected as one of three finalists for the prestigious Eppendorf and Science Prize for Neurobiology. Eppendorf is a biotech company founded in Germany after World War II with locations on five continents. Science is one of the world’s top scientific journals.
This international prize, established in 2002, encourages the work of promising young neurobiologists by providing support in the early stages of their careers. It is awarded annually for the most outstanding neurobiological research based on methods of molecular and cell biology by a scientist 35 years of age or younger, as described in a 1,000-word essay based on research performed during the past three years.
This year’s grand prize winner was Flavio Donato at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Diering, who conducted this research while at Johns Hopkins University, was one of two other finalists, along with Viviana Gradinaru at the California Institute of Technology.
The winner of the Eppendorf and Science Prize for Neurobiology is awarded $25,000 and publication of his or her essay in Science. The finalists’ essays are published on Science Online. The award was announced and presented at a ceremony concurrent with the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in the United States. Eppendorf provides financial support to help enable the grand prize winner and finalists to attend the event.