Sidarta Ribeiro is a world leader in the physiology consolidation of memory. Discovered that activity-dependent immediate early genes necessary for memory consolidation are reinduced during rapid-eye-movement sleep (REM) in an experience-dependent manner. Subsequently he found that such reinduction is transient in the hippocampus but persistent in the cerebral cortex, leading to the original hypothesis that sleep promotes the corticalization of hippocampus-dependent memories. In agreement with this hypothesis, he employed multielectrode recordings to reveal for the first time that firing rates remain elevated for several hours in the cerebral cortex during post-experience slow-wave sleep (SWS), but decay quickly in the hippocampus. This work is at the leading edge of memory research.
In addition, after his return to Brazil after a PEW fellowship he was remarkably effective in the creation of new institutions in Brazil. In the past 20 years, Ribeiro spearheaded a succesful effort for the repatriation of Brazilian neuroscientists and attraction of non-Brazilian neuroscientists to the city of Natal, in the northeast of Brazil. He first organized the International Institute for Neuroscience of Natal (IINN), which Ribeiro directed from 2005-2008. Subsequently this initiative led to the creation of the Brain Institute of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), which he has directed since 2011. In order to establish this new institute, Sidarta Ribeiro recruited 16 faculty with international training in some of the most prestigious research centers of the world. Under his direction, the Brain Institute has published over 150 papers in peer-reviewed journals, has established research links with Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Colombia, and has attained international visibility. The Neuroscience Graduate Program created by the Brain Institute in 2010 is having a strong impact on Brazil’s overall scientific environment, with the recruitment of talented students across the country as well as from overseas.