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Blake Hopiavuori

DSM Science & Technology Awards Europe (2014)

PhD Candidate, University of Oklahoma (US)
(l to r): Christina López Vicario, Chuck T. Chen, Blake Hopiavuori, John Miklavcic & Marcel Wubbolts

For Ph.D. student Blake Hopiavuori, 2014 has been another successful year. After winning a New Investigator Award to attend the 2014 ISSFAL (International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids), Mr. Hopiavuori received the coveted DSM award for his Ph.D. research project titled, "A novel role for very long chain fatty acids in brain function." He conducted his research at the Health Sciences Center, Neuroscience Department of the University of Oklahoma (US) under the supervision of Professor Robert Eugene Anderson MD, Ph.D.

I won the award for my work on the role of very long chain fatty acids (>C26) in brain function, presented for DSM’s 2014 research topic of ‘Polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) nutrition and related topics’.

The brain has always fascinated me – especially the means by which we learn and form memories, as our individuality arises from this unique ability to store and recall our experiences. It was this curiosity, combined with a significant amount of support and encouragement from my neuroscience professors and mentors during my time at the University of Rochester, which drove me into the field of brain research. 

It was my mentor, Dr. Robert Anderson, who noticed the call for applications for this DSM awards opportunity and, after reviewing the announcement, he decided to send a nomination on my behalf.

The DSM Awards event was unlike any experience I’ve ever had. The wide breadth of scientists representing both academia and industry was wonderful. The audience was highly engaged, and the other speakers and I received some excellent “forward-thinking” questions about our research. The quality of the presentations was excellent, and I felt honored to have been included in the candidate pool with such talented finalists.

One very encouraging outcome of winning this award was that I was approached by the organizer and asked if I would be willing to speak about my work next March at the Third Brain Lipid Conference in Paris, entitled, “Les journées Chevreul 2015 Lipids & Brain III.” This is very exciting and I’m looking forward to yet another wonderful opportunity to share my research.

More generally, my ambition for the future is to play an active role in the advancement of the field of neuroscience. I want a career that will allow me to generate and explore original ideas, while pursuing relevant and challenging goals aimed at improving our understanding of how the brain functions.

Hopiavuori’s work was exceptionally innovative, as he used a very broad spectrum of research approaches and techniques. His work has an unprecedented focus on very long chain fatty acids, which are less commonly linked to brain functions than polyunsaturated fatty acids.

In addition, his work has a wide application area including possible implications for chronic eye diseases, skin diseases and other neurological disorders.”