Over the last three decades, neuroscience has emerged from a variety of disciplines--psychology, physiology, biochemistry, cell biology, and genetics, among others--to become an explosive field that continues to draw on those fields and several others. For this week's feature--a companion to Science  magazine's special issue on "Systems Level Brain Development"--we probe what makes a successful neuroscience academic research career. We profile scientists working human neurological disease research, longitudinal studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging, and other fields. Though still quite young, all these researchers--six of them altogether--have already made a name for themselves.
How did they do it? One obvious ingredient is passion for their work, something that all these scientists--and most successful scientists from other fields--clearly have. What else? Neuroscientist and Vice President for Research at the University of Manchester, U.K., Nancy Rothwell advises that when it comes to picking a neuroscience project, "choose a very good question, something fundamental and exciting. Picking a boring question even in a sexy area such as stem cells, will not be of use to your career," she says.
Passion and an important question are a good start, but by themselves such generalisations rarely suffice. For the inside track on a successful neuroscience career, the best idea is to learn from the decisions made by successful, young neuroscientists. So here we present the career twists and turns of six stellar neuroscientists based in North America and Europe.
The Biology of Memory
Understanding processes that lead to memory has been the basis of Norwegian neuroscientist Edvard Moser's  research career to date. Now a professor of neuroscience and a director of a neuroscience research institute in Norway, he tells Next Wave North European editor, Anne Forde, what experiences and outlook have counted most in his success.
Getting Wired--Pathway of a Neuroscientist
Edward Ruthazer studies brain development, charting intricate neurocircuitries in the hope of advancing treatments for injuries of the central nervous system and therapies for developmental disorders. Now a first-year professor at McGill University's Montreal Neurological Institute in Canada, Ruthazer tells Next Wave's Canadian Correspondent, Andrew Fazekas, how working overseas in different cultures has provided him with a sense of independence  and confidence as a researcher.
Neurology in the Lab and at the Patients' Bedside
What is it like working both as a neurologist and a neuroscientist at the same time, Italian clinician Diego Centonze  tells Elisabeth Pain, Next Wave's contributing editor for southern Europe, how the world of neuroscience research was opened to him by surprise, and why he has never looked back.
Investigating the Neural and Vascular Consequences of Stroke
Byron Ford, an associate professor in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology and an investigator at the Neuroscience Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) in Atlanta, Georgia, develops combinational therapies to treat stroke and atherosclerosis. Because of Ford's varied background--neuroscience, biology, biochemistry, and cardiology--he has been able to carve out a unique niche in the world of stroke research. He tells MiSciNet Editor Robin Arnette  his story.
Crossroads in Neuroscience
Neuroscience is one of the hottest fields around and one of the most diverse, incorporating biochemistry, genetics, imaging, and psychology. Many fields of science are aiming for a better understanding of the brain, and to get it, they'll need to cooperate. U.S. based Next Wave contributing writer Jim Kling , talks to two up-and-coming scientists--one studying brain imaging and behavior, the other studying the molecular cues that guide the growth of axons--and reveals how their interdisciplinary backgrounds helped propel their careers forward.
On the funding front, GrantsNet Program Associate Shajuan Martin  lists current neuroscience funding opportunities from the GrantsNet database and other sources.
Neuroscience across Science
For more fascinating neuroscience research, take a look at Science's  invited essays and perspectives on plasticity in the early and mature brain. Science's Signal Transduction Knowledge Environment (STKE)  focuses on the molecular level of neuronal plasticity and Science of Aging Knowledge Environment (SAGE KE)  probes the phenomenon of cognitive aging. Last, but not least, Science News  reports on the connection between genetic abnormalities and behavior in the neurodevelopmental disorder, Williams-Beuren syndrome.