Got a Brilliant Neuroscience Proposal? Gruber Wants to Hear It.

Hear ye, hear ye: the Gruber Foundation is officially seeking nominations for the 2015 Peter and Patricia Gruber International Research Award in Neuroscience!

Major nervous system discoveries are their jam, and they’re prepared to offer $500,000 unrestricted cash for the individual who wins the award. The honoree also gets a gold medal inscribed with his or her name, which is delightfully old school, we think.

The prize was established in 2004. Nominees can be from anywhere in the world, and nominations come from individuals, organizations, and institutions with connections to the fabulous world of neuroscience. To get a sense of where Gruber’s priorities are, we thought it would be useful to take a look at the most recent winner of the prize and just what, exactly, caught Gruber’s eye.

The 2014 winner of the Peter and Patricia Gruber International Research Award is Thomas Jessell, Ph.D., the Claire Tow Professor of Neuroscience and Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics at Columbia University. He studies spinal neural circuits, and he’s made some serious contributions to understanding how the formation and organization of these circuits control movement. Basically, through his own discoveries, he’s helped establish and then advance the entire field of developmental neuroscience. Impressive stuff. 

He’s also done work with stem cells, showing how signaling pathways can be manipulated en utero in order to influence the formation of specific subtypes of motor neurons. His findings are shining promising new light on the possibility of finding a cure for ALS.

While this award is extremely limited—Gruber only hands out one—and the deadline is fast-approaching (December 15), the foundation goes off the beaten path in a way that’s likely to limit the total number of applicants. If you’re a brilliant neuroscientist, it just might be worth it to try your chances here.