Norway: A Neuroscientist Making Connections

Norwegian neuroscience researcher Farrukh A. Chaudhry (pictured left) trained as a medical doctor, but his heart has always been in basic science. In August this year, the 36-year-old Chaudhry began an appointment as a group leader at the Biotechnology Centre in Oslo. The position is funded for 10 years and comes with an associate professorship at the Centre for Molecular Biology and Neuroscience at the University of Oslo. A 2003 winner of the Norwegian King's Gold Medal for Science, Chaudhry is one of only a handful of young scientists to win their first faculty position in Norway this year.

When he finished his medical studies at the University of Oslo, Chaudhry began studying for a Ph.D. with Jon Storm-Mathisen at the university's Anatomical Institute. There he investigated amino acid transporters, proteins that ferry signals across the synapse, the gap between nerve cells. The work was done in collaboration with Robert Edwards at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where Chaudhry conducted most of his experimental work. During this period, he uncovered a new family of transporter proteins.

As a postdoc, Chaudhry returned to Storm-Mathisen's lab and secured a "career stipend" from the Norwegian Research Council, which gave him independent funding and a lot of intellectual freedom.

Chaudhry saw an ad for the group-leader position at the Biotechnology Centre by chance, and he says he didn't think too much about his application. In retrospect, he realizes how fortunate he was to get a group-leader position in a research institute in Norway. "This is an unusual position; I will have little bureaucracy and limited teaching."

Chaudhry will investigate whether the family of amino acid transporters he discovered while at UCSF may play a role outside the synapse, perhaps in non-neurological diseases such as chronic metabolic acidosis or even cancer.

Anne Forde is the European Editor, North and East, for Science's Next Wave.