Finding Answers Faster: MPFI Researcher Receives Grant for Computational Neuroscience Fellowship

January 30, 2023

MPFI researcher Dr. Nico Spiller has been awarded the inaugural Carl Angus DeSantis Fellowship in the amount of $75,000 per year for five years. With this funding, Dr. Spiller is leading a computational neuroscience initiative at MPFI, analyzing complex datasets related to the institute’s research into neuronal mechanisms related to memory, decision-making, and movement.

“I am so grateful for this award which will create a path forward for better methods of understanding neuronal activity in the brain. These answers are a critical first step in understanding neuronal mechanisms related to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease,” Spiller said.

With improvements in technology, neuroscientists can manipulate and record information related to thousands of active neurons in the brain. While this information provides valuable insights into how the brain works, it generates a tremendous amount of data that is time-consuming to analyze. Using state-of-the-art machine learning techniques, Spiller will work collaboratively with scientists to create new types of analyses that will help researchers find answers faster than was possible before.

“The Carl Angus DeSantis Foundation is excited to support Dr. Spiller’s important work in the field of computational neuroscience,” said Jeff Perlman, Director of the Carl Angus DeSantis Foundation. “We were impressed with Dr. Spiller’s commitment to finding important breakthroughs related to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which afflict so many people and impact so many families. We are impressed by the science being done by the dedicated people at Max Planck Florida. They take an entrepreneurial approach to science by daring to dream big. We are taken by that mindset and look forward to funding important neuroscience research.”

The Carl Angus DeSantis Foundation is a South Florida-based private foundation that supports nonprofit organizations in Palm Beach and Broward counties, as well as a project in South Africa. The Foundation established this fellowship to invest in innovative young researchers whose work has the potential to provide insights into how neural circuits encode learning and memory and what goes wrong in conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

About the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience

The Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI), a not-for-profit research organization, is part of the world-renowned Max Planck Society, Germany’s most successful research organization, with over 80 institutes worldwide. Since its establishment, 30 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists, including five in the last three years alone. As its first U.S. institution, MPFI provides exceptional neuroscientists from around the world with the resources and technology to answer fundamental questions about brain development and function. MPFI researchers employ a curiosity-driven approach to science to develop new technologies that make groundbreaking scientific discoveries possible. For more information, visit


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