Neuroscience at Communications Biology: Welcoming new Editorial Board Members

As we kick of another year, Communications Biology is thrilled to welcome two new Editorial Board Members to their Neuroscience teams: Sahba Besharati and David Owen
Neuroscience at Communications Biology: Welcoming new Editorial Board Members
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As we begin 2023, the neuroscience editorial board at Communications Biology has undergone a few changes. We have now split the board into Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience and Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience, which will be lead by Section Leads Christian Wozny and Michel Thiebaut de Schotten, respectively.

We are also thrilled to welcome two new members of the team! Sahba Besharati will join our Cognitive and Computational team, whilst David Owen will join our Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience team.

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Sahba Besharati is a neuropsychologist and senior lecturer in cognitive neuroscience at the Department of Psychology at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). She is the cofounder and joint leader of Wits NeuRL, a cross-disciplinary research laboratory that aims to advance the practice and research of cognitive neuroscience in the southern African context. Sahba’s research specialises in the area of social and affective neuroscience, where she integrates innovative methods to investigate self-consciousness, emotion and social cognition. Her research addresses the question of how we become aware of ourselves and others in the world, and how our environment influences this construction of the self. In doing so, her research also explores how the brain changes and reorganises itself following brain injury. She has been actively involved in capacity building in the neurosciences for unrepresented researchers, and in making research around the brain accessible and interesting for a wider public audience.

She says:

'Being on the Editorial Board of Communications Biology is a unique opportunity to have a first look and even contribute to pioneering neuroscience research. Being from South Africa, I also felt it was a way to encourage greater inclusivity and cultural diversity in the neurosciences and allow for a representation of perspectives from low-to-middle income countries and the Global South....

...I am really excited to see the interface between the artificial intelligence and the neurosciences, especially in terms of consciousness studies. I also look forward to seeing a greater integration of affective neuroscience perspectives and interdisciplinary work with the cognitive neurosciences with social scientists, developmentalists and mathematics.'

David Owen is a clinically active clinical pharmacologist, working on microglia and their role in neurodegeneration. Microglia are immune cells that reside in the brain. They are referred to as the “policemen of the brain” because they detect neuronal damage and become activated in response to almost any brain injury, including in neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease. Microglia can perform supportive, trophic functions, but they can also inappropriately phagocytose synapses and release neurotoxic mediators which drive neuronal damage. The way in which microglia respond to Alzheimer’s Disease is therefore very important. Indeed, converging data from genomics, neuropathology, cell biology and transgenic mouse experiments suggest that the microglial response is a fundamental driver of disease progression. Therefore, if microglial phenotype can be modulated in neurodegenerative disease, this may be a means of slowing disease progression. The focus of his group is contribute to the understanding of how microglial phenotype drives disease, and the development of microglial modulating strategies.

He says:

'Until now, my only experience of journals has been in the role of author or reviewer. I’ve never been involved in the process of how manuscripts are assessed. Spare time is a rare commodity in academia, but we as a community all need the journals to be running well, so I do think its important we all play what part we can to contribute to that....

...My own interest is in the role that non neuronal cells play in neurodegeneration, and my work involves cell and rodent models as well as experimental medicine studies. So I am excited to handle papers on these topics, but equally I’m keen to see papers which aren’t in my specific field too.'

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