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UK neuroscientist Tom Baden wins inaugural Nature Research Awards for driving global impact -

Tom Baden, a professor of neuroscience at University of Sussex, UK, and elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, UK, has become the first winner of the Nature Research Awards for Driving Global Impact, as announced at a ceremony in Beijing. Established in partnership with Tencent, the Awards for Driving Global Impact aim to recognise early career researchers whose work has made, or has the potential to make, a positive impact on society. The 2019 awards focused on brain science.

Baden’s research on zebrafish and mice showed that eyes have vastly greater computational powers than people previously thought, rather than being faithful recorders of the real world. His research demonstrates that the retina is not a passive recording device: the signals it sends to the brain are in fact highly processed with the 'ganglion cells', found in the retina, transmitting the image presented to it in a highly interpreted form. With information packaged into simpler representations before being sent to the brain, the transmission of information is highly efficient.

Professor Baden designed and manufactured his own lab equipment using techniques such as 3D printing. He also published his designs — for microscopes, pipettes, micromanipulators and other instruments used widely throughout the life sciences — under open source licenses so that they are available for anyone to use. This equipment costs a fraction of that which is available commercially, making it possible for researchers to access tools they otherwise could not afford — a particularly valuable service for scientists in emerging regions.

The Nature Research Awards for Driving Global Impact encourage early career researchers to think critically about, and to plan for, the potential impacts of their work. Nature Research will continue to work together with Tencent to make them the premier awards for early career scientists globally.

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