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Brandeis neuroscientist wins NIH director's Pioneer Award

Waltham, MA -- Brandeis neuroscientist Gina Turrigiano has been awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Directors Pioneer Award, a five-year grant totaling $2.5 million. She is one of 12 recipients nationwide to win the highly competitive award.

According to NIH, the award is designed to support individual scientists of exceptional creativity who propose pioneering approaches to major challenges in biomedical and behavioral research. The term pioneering is used to describe highly innovative potentially transformative approaches that have the potential to produce an unusually high impact, and the term award is used to mean a grant for conducting research, rather than a reward for past achievements.

Turrigiano will use her Pioneer Award to develop a super-resolution cryo-microscopic method for probing the structure of the synapse, which is one of the most complex molecular machines. This method will make it possible to determine how synapses are impaired by neurodevelopmental and neurological diseases.

Potentially, this new technology will allow us to peer inside synaptic structures, see how these nano-machines are built, and understand how they malfunction in neurodegenerative diseases, says Turrigiano.

NIH selected the award recipients through special application and evaluation processes that engaged 262 experts from the scientific community in identifying the most highly competitive individuals. The Advisory Committee to the Director, NIH, performed the final review and made recommendations to NIH director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., based on the evaluations by the outside experts and programmatic considerations. The program is part of an NIH Roadmap for Medical Research initiative that tests new approaches to supporting research.


Contact: Laura Gardner
Brandeis University

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