Prof. Małgorzata Kossut presents Prof. George Gerstein
with the Nencki Award
George Gerstein in front of the bust of Marceli Nencki
The Nencki Award – First edition
at the celebration of the 90th
anniversary of the Nencki Institute
talk by Małgorzata
It is my very
great pleasure to introduce the laureate of the First Edition of the Nencki
Award. The Award was established by The Scientific Council of the Nencki
Institute of Experimental Biology to honour distinguished scientists who were
also friends of our Institute, who helped us in ours scientific efforts,
with whom we shared our research passions and collaborated. An institute is not
a lonely island, it exists within a network of colleagues joined by common
scientific interests. The Nencki Institute had its own extensive support
network of friends and in hard times – and we have had hard times – the help
from our friends was invaluable.
laureate of The Nencki Award is Professor George Gerstein.
born in Berlin, and with his parents came to US before the war. He graduated
from Harvard where he also obtained his PhD in nuclear physics there. During
his postdoctoral research at MIT he became interested in hoe the brains works
and started work on applying mathematical methods to physiological data.
on analysis of the neuronal code and designed several methods for handling
neuronal spike train data. Histogram averaging of single neurons activity,
cross correlograms, joint post stimulus time scatter diagrams are now the basic
research tools of electrophysiology. His classic papers – Science 1960
and 1967, J. Biophysics 1967 – are a bible for neurophysiologists.
The analytical tools he designed are for the field of neurophysiology what
SDS electrophoresis and Western blot are for biochemistry.
his career in neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is now
Professor Emeritus. He continued his theoretical interests, especially
developing theoretical background for studying simultaneous activity of
functional neuronal networks and also did experimental work, recording from
brains of both mammals and invertebrates. He has published over 130 papers in
neuroinformatics and sensory neurophysiology with several milestones in both
interactions with Nencki Institute started in the sixties, when Professor
Remigiusz Tarnecki was on sabbatical at the University of Pennsylvania. In the
seventies several researchers from Department of Neurophysiology of Nencki
Institute worked as postdocs in Georges’ laboratory. Then he spent a sabbatical
year in the Nencki Institute, bringing over 2 laboratory mini-computers, which
he integrated with laboratory equipment and taught our colleagues to use and
program them to control and analyze neurophysiological experiments. He regularly
has remained in touch with the Nencki Institute since then, coming to scientific
meetings at the Institute and being on the editorial board of Acta
Neurobiologiale Experimentalis. For all of this we are very grateful. I am
happy to present Professor George Gerstein with the Nencki Award.