43 young scientists from Swiss universities submitted abstracts for the Poster Day at the University of Zurich on 8 September, where they were discussed by about 200 members of the Zürich medical research community. The most outstanding research results were awarded prizes during the conference. Philipp Mächler, PhD student at the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Zurich won the "MEMMERT AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING RESEARCH IN PHARMACOLOGY" for his paper "Astrocyte-Neuron Lactate Gradient in vivo".
This field of research is a newcomer in the history of science, and its description could fill several books. Broadly speaking, the award winner used advanced fluorescent imaging technologies to support a hypothesis concerning the brain's energy metabolism: the idea that particular cells in the brain (astrocytes, one component of the brain's glial cells that form the blood-brain barrier and shield neuronal connections) might supply lactate to neurons as an energy source. Lactate, a leftover product from glucose metabolism, is the substance that makes overtrained muscles “burn.” Its reuse by astrocytes to “feed” neurons would be an interesting example of cellular recycling.
A first introduction to the topic can be found on the institute's website.