BRAIN researchers and Multi-Council Working Group members receive prestigious awards in neuroscience

Mouse brain slice with bright green neurons.

The Gruber Foundation and The Kavli Foundation 2022 Prizes in Neuroscience recognize trailblazing contributions in theoretical neuroscience and the genetics of brain disorders.

Figuring out how the brain works in health and goes awry in disease is one of the great challenges of modern science that has attracted researchers from disciplines that span the gamut from mathematics and physics to molecular biology and genetics. Indeed, two prestigious prizes in neuroscience for 2022, The Kavli Foundation Prize for discoveries on the genetic basis of brain disorders and The Gruber Foundation Prize for seminal contributions to theoretical and computational neuroscience reflect the diversity of minds that have brought to bear their efforts on revealing the brain’s secrets. 

The 2022 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience was awarded to Huda Zoghbi, MD, PhD, Christopher Walsh, MD, PhD, Harry Orr, PhD and Jean-Louis Mandel, MD, PhD for leading the discovery of genes underlying a range of serious brain disorders. Dr. Zoghbi served as one of the members of the Advisory Council to the Director (ACD) BRAIN Initiative Working Group 2.0, and Dr. Christopher Walsh as a previous member of the BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group (MCWG).  

Dr. Zhogbi’s dogged pursuit of the genetic basis of a neurological disorder called Rett syndrome led to the discovery of MECP2 as the gene responsible for Rett syndrome. Dr. Zoghbi’s work, in collaboration with Kavli Prize co-recipient Dr. Orr, has also identified the gene ATXN1 as the gene responsible for spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1). Dr. Walsh’s prolific research has led to the discovery of many genes associated with disorders such as autism and cerebral palsy. In addition, Dr. Walsh’s basic research has led to insights into the development, function, and evolution of the human cerebral cortex. 

The 2022 Gruber Foundation Prize in Neuroscience was awarded to Larry Abbott, PhD, Emery Neal Brown, MD, PhD, Terrence Sejnowski, PhD, and Haim Sompolinsky, PhD for seminal contributions to computational and theoretical neuroscience. The NIH BRAIN Initiative has been fortunate to receive the input of Dr. Abbott and Dr. Brown as MCWG members, and Dr. Sejnowski as a member of the first ACD Working Group that helped shape the vision of the BRAIN Initiative outlined in the BRAIN 2025 Report.  

All four Gruber Prize awardees have also been funded by the NIH BRAIN Initiative through the U19 BRAIN Circuit program or the Theories, Models and Methods program under the umbrella of the BRAIN Initiative Understanding Circuits program. They represent the vanguard of scientists who brought the tools of mathematics, physics, statistics, and machine learning to neuroscience. With ever increasing volumes of data, these tools are indispensable for giving meaning to these data by developing theories and models of brain function.  

The NIH BRAIN Initiative congratulates all recipients of the 2022 Kavli Foundation and Gruber Foundation Prizes in Neuroscience and looks forward to their contributions to further our understanding of the brain in health and disease.