Neurological Surgery faculty member honored for his research about neural basis of decision-making

Ignacio Saez receives the Edwin Boldrey Award from the San Francisco Neurological Society

February 12, 2021

Ignacio Saez, assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Neurological Surgery, has received the Edwin Boldrey Award from the San Francisco Neurological Society in recognition of excellence in neuroscience research.

Ignacio Saez received the Edwin Boldrey Award from the San Francisco Neurological Society  Ignacio Saez received the Edwin Boldrey Award from the San Francisco Neurological Society

“It’s an honor to be recognized by a professional society, especially one to which so many talented clinicians and researchers belong,” Saez said. “San Francisco and the greater Bay Area contain some of the top neurological surgery departments in the world, and being recognized in that context is humbling but also energizing.”

Saez received the award for his research project “Dissociable Oscillatory Networks Support Gain and Loss Processing in Human Orbitofrontal Cortex,” which is focused on studying the neural basis of a fundamental aspect of human behavior -- decision making.

“Decision-making is an important cognitive function that’s essential to everyday life, and one that is deeply damaged in many neuropsychiatric conditions,” Saez said. “My lab is interested in the neural basis of this process: how the brain chooses from different available options and learns from the consequences of those actions.”

He hopes the results from his research will lead to greater understanding of how our brains make choices and how those processes break down in neuropsychiatric conditions, which can help in the development of novel therapeutic approaches for those conditions.

Saez said he’s excited that the award recognizes basic science research. “It gives me confidence that my clinician colleagues understand the importance of this type of research, and are supportive of it,” he said. “I hope that this award will also help my colleagues in nearby institutions learn of our budding research efforts and open the door to collaborations and collegial interaction.”

He also noted that receiving the award reinforces the importance of collaboration between clinical and basic research.

“I think this is further proof that team-based research efforts and cross-pollination between clinical and basic research is fundamental today,” Saez said. “I’ve been lucky to have mentors who have constantly crossed those boundaries. I hope to continue doing that and contribute to training young researchers and physicians who are comfortable in both worlds, and can make great contributions to both basic science and patient care.”

 


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