Two Neurobiology professors are recipients of High-Risk, High-Reward Research Awards from NIH

Professor Catherine Woolley and Assistant Professor Tiffany Schmidt are both recipients of the NIH Common Fund's 2016 High-Risk, High-Reward Research Awards.  The High-Risk, High-Reward Research (HRHR) program, supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s Common Fund, awarded a total of 88 grants to highly creative and exceptional scientists with bold approaches to major challenges in biomedical research.  Professors Woolley and Schmidt were awarded the Transformative Research Award and New Innovator Award, respectively.

Woolley's research award ($3.7 million), titled: New Tools to Study Neurosteroid Estrogens, is a collaboration with Associate Professor, Tom Bozza, that seeks to generate new research tools to map and study the function of estrogens that are synthesized in the brain, independently of the peripheral endocrine system. This project has the potential to transform basic and clinical neuroscience by revealing a widespread and powerful neuromodulatory system of brain-synthesized estrogens that is currently unrecognized.  The primary emphasis of the Transformative Research Award is to support bold, paradigm-shifting but untested ideas.

Schmidt's research award, titled: Genetic Mapping of Visual Circuits, seeks to define the mechanisms by which inputs from the retina influence behavior by generating tools to probe the circuits of single retinal ganglion cell subtypes from the electrophysiological to the behavioral level.  This project has the potential to transform our understanding of how signals relayed from multiple subtypes of retinal ganglion cell combine within the brain to influence the multitude of light-driven effects on physiology and behavior.   The NIH Director's New Innovator Award program supports unusually creative new investigators with highly innovative research ideas at an early stage of their career.

4 October 2016