Gemma Modinos Named the 2023 Research Excellence Awardee
Dr Gemma Modinos is Reader in Neuroscience & Mental Health at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King's College London (UK). Gemma studied a BSc Psychology and an MSc in Applied Neuroscience in Barcelona (Spain), where she is from. She completed a PhD in Neuroscience (Cum Laude) at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands), and then moved to the IoPPN as a post-doc, where she later started her own lab thanks to a prestigious Wellcome Trust & The Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellowship. The research in her lab combines multimodal brain imaging methods to ask questions about the interactions between neurochemistry, neurophysiology and neuroanatomy in the development of psychosis, with a focus on excitation/inhibition balance within brain systems involved in how people process and regulate emotion. Modinos Lab also uses preclinical models to delineate with increased precision the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in the human observations, and apply psychopharmacological approaches to probe how to intervene on those mechanisms early to prevent or delay the development of psychosis. Gemma also created and co-chairs the ENIGMA Schizotypy Working Group, the largest neuroimaging consortium in schizotypy worldwide. Her scientific work has led to many high-profile publications, and has been recognised through prestigious awards, including the 2019 SIRS Rising Star Award and the 2020 BAP Senior Non-Clinical Psychopharmacology Award. She has also been strongly involved in science policy and advice, for example as Chair of the Young Academy of Europe, in public engagement, for example through a King's Artists Award, and in mentoring and supporting early-career researchers, for example as Junior Member of the SIRS Executive Board and Chair of the SIRS Membership Committee through which the SIRS EXPERT Classes were created.
A Message from Gemma Modinos, 2023 SIRS Research Excellence Awardee
I am extremely honoured to receive the SIRS Research Excellence Award. I am sincerely grateful to SIRS for such an important and encouraging recognition for my work and the research we do in my lab. Winning this award would not have been possible without the inspiration I have received over the years from senior scientists in the Society and from my colleagues, collaborators and mentors. To say nothing of the brilliant, kind and fun people in my lab, with whom the occasional struggles of an academic career pale in comparison to how wonderfully rewarding it is to share the journey of scientific discovery with the new generations of schizophrenia researchers.
A Message from Sukhi Shergill
I am delighted that Gemma has been awarded the Research Excellence Award. She is well known in the schizophrenia research community, having received several international and national grants and awards. I have had the pleasure of knowing Gemma for most of her time at the IoPPN, King’s College London and I have always admired the quality of her research, her communication skills, and her collaborative leadership style; she has been a super colleague. Her research has provided important insights into the role that functional and neurochemical abnormalities in brain systems involved in emotion may play in increasing risk for psychosis. She also pioneered research that bridges preclinical and clinical science to understand psychosis risk mechanisms at the IoPPN.
However, Gemma’s role in the scientific and academic community goes well beyond the research in her own lab and her educational leadership roles at KCL, particularly by actively working to improve research culture and the careers of young researchers at an international scale. She has done this for example through her roles in SIRS as Junior Member of the Executive Board (2020-2022) and Chair of the Membership Committee (2021-2022), as well as Chair of the Young Academy of Europe (2022-2022). As part of the many activities she has led, Gemma designed the SIRS EXPERT Classes, which have become an excellent mentoring platform for early-career researchers. I recently had the pleasure to participate in an EXPERT Class and I could see how carefully she plans and moderates these. She is undoubtedly deeply invested in fostering an inclusive, collaborative research culture.
A Message from Kim Do, SIRS Awards Committee Chair
Dr Gemma Modinos is undoubtedly a highly praiseworthy winner of the SIRS Research Excellence Award. Excellence has been a distinctive aspect of her career right from the start since she earned her PhD in Neuroscience cum laude, and won the NARSAD Young Investigator Award as well as the SIRS Rising Star Award, among many others. The quality of her research, her communication skills, and her collaborative leadership are internationally recognized.
Her innovative and successful research led to important insights on brain circuitry-based mechanisms involved in emotional dysregulation underlying psychosis risks. Gemma also initiated the creation of the ENIGMA Schizotypy Working Group, the largest neuroimaging consortium in schizotypy worldwide.
Gemma is one of those rare individuals whose enormous energy can catalyze and galvanize: This led her to be involved in science policy, as Chair of the Young Academy of Europe, in public engagement, through a King's Artists Award, and in mentoring and supporting early-career researchers, by launching the successful SIRS EXPERT Classes.
Gemma Modinos is an admirable personality full enthusiasm, who manages to federate and unite her colleagues around the projects she initiates. She is a very creative and inventive scientist as well as a dedicated teacher. I highly respect everything she has achieved so far through her exceptional abilities and pioneering spirit. I wish her all the success she deserves with her very promising future endeavours, and thank her for her truly esteemed commitment to our Society.