THE PERSHING SQUARE FOUNDATION LAUNCHES ITS INAUGURAL “MIND” PRIZE (MAXIMIZING INNOVATION IN NEUROSCIENCE DISCOVERY) TO FUND BRAIN RESEARCH, PART OF A LARGE NEW COGNITIVE HEALTH INITIATIVE
EACH PRIZE WINNER TO RECEIVE $750,000 OVER THREE YEARS
New York, NY, April 25, 2023 (BUSINESS WIRE) – The Pershing Square Foundation today announced the seven winners of the inaugural “MIND” Prize (Maximizing Innovation in Neuroscience Discovery). Through the Prize, the Foundation strives to change the paradigm of neuroscience research by creating a community of next-frontier thinkers who can uncover a deeper understanding of the brain and cognition. Breakthroughs in basic scientific and translational research will yield critical tools for and knowledge of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia, which affect millions of people worldwide.
The MIND Prize will catalyze novel interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary work by facilitating collaborations across academic departments and institutions and amongst the academic, biomedical industry, philanthropic, and business communities. These breakthroughs in basic, fundamental research will help augment the toolkit for, and knowledge of, neurodegenerative and neurocognitive disorders. The 2023 Prize winners will each receive $750,000, distributed $250,000 per year for three years.
“Alzheimer’s Disease and associated neurodegenerative diseases are extremely complex and nuanced, requiring an approach that is comprehensive and holistic,” said Pershing Square Foundation Co-Trustee Neri Oxman. ” The winners of the 2023 MIND Prize bring together vastly different areas of expertise and viewpoints—from exploring the role of bone in neurodegenerative disease to developing nanoelectronic brain simulation technologies—and each represents the breadth of the ongoing research.”
- Matthew Greenblatt, MD, PhD, Weill Cornell Medicine: Greenblatt and his lab study the effects of bone on systemic disease. In his MIND Prize-funded project, Dr. Greenblatt will examine if and how bone acts to modulate Alzheimer’s Disease progression, a highly novel direction of his work, by studying whether a specific new type of stem cell in the skull regulates neurodegeneration by controlling the entry of immune cells to the brain.
- Justus Kebschull, PhD, Johns Hopkins University: Dr. Kebschull’s laboratory will investigate how the cerebellum is connected to the rest of the brain by measuring multi-synaptic connectivity through the use of barcodes as markers to track the movement of viruses through the brain. The project will transform brain connectivity tracing by developing a scalable, multi-synaptic, single-cell resolution brain mapping tool. This will enable Dr. Kebschull and his lab to better understand the impact of cerebellar function and neurodegeneration on behavior.
- Evan Macosko, MD, PhD, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; Harvard Medical School: The lab of physician-scientist Dr. Macosko is focused on building novel technologies for studying and treating brain diseases. His project aims to develop a new neural therapeutic modality that leverages the fusion of peripheral blood cells with neurons. Through learning the mechanisms by which this spontaneous fusion phenomenon works, Dr. Macosko hopes to create a new way of delivering therapeutics that can correct genetic abnormalities or rejuvenate aging cells.
- Priyamvada Rajasethupathy, MD, PhD, The Rockefeller University: Rajasethupathy works to understand how basic genetic and neural circuit mechanisms drive cognitive variability, and in particular focuses on the role of the thalamus in enabling working memory. Her lab hypothesizes that that glial-neuron crosstalk in the thalamo-cortical circuit promotes signaling and metabolic support, respectively, to sustain working memory, and can be targeted for cognitive rescue in neurodegeneration.
- Deblina Sarkar, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Sarkar’s project brings together nanoelectronics, applied physics, bioengineering, and neuroscience. She and her lab aim to develop wireless nanoelectronic brain stimulators as novel therapeutics to slow down and even prevent Alzheimer’s Disease development. The proposed technology is a radical departure from all existing bioelectronic interfaces and can modify the course of the disease—going beyond symptomatic benefits and potentially can reverse the process of aging.
- Sergey Stavisky, PhD, University of California, Davis: Stavisky’s laboratory constructs next-generation brain-computer interfaces for restoring human brain function. His MIND Prize-funded project provides a revolutionary path to treating and improving the quality of life of those with neurodegenerative diseases through developing silicon probes with integrated electronic devices that route information across damaged parts of the nervous system or perform missing essential computations in order to restore lost cognitive abilities.
- Jessica Tollkuhn, PhD, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: Tollkuhn and her lab have identified the first genomic targets of a sex hormone receptor in the brain and have demonstrated that sex differences in gene expression are acutely defined by hormone levels. In humans, age-related decreases in sex hormones are linked with the onset of neurodegeneration in both sexes. In her MIND Prize-funded project, Dr. Tollkuhn will test the hypothesis that distinct aging trajectories emerge in neurons, glia, and vasculature of females and males during reproductive aging, and if hormone replacement therapies can protect against age-related cognitive decline, without increasing risk of cancer or cardiovascular events.
“In record time upon launching the inaugural MIND Prize, we received an extraordinary amount of proposals—a testimony to the need for new ideas and leaders in brain research. We were extremely impressed by the number and quality of proposals we received,” said Olivia Tournay Flatto, PhD, President of The Pershing Square Foundation and Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance. “We have no doubt that this inspiring first cohort will foster novel discoveries that will make a significant impact on our understanding of the brain and cognitive health.”
As part of the selection process, the MIND Prize relied on the guidance of a highly accomplished scientific advisory board, including:
- Paola Arlotta, PhD, Golub Family Professor and Chair of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Harvard University
- Richard Axel, MD, Nobel Laureate; Co-director, Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, Columbia University; University Professor, Columbia University; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
- Cori Bargmann, PhD, Torsten N. Wiesel Professor of Genetics & Genomics and Neurosciences & Behavior, Head of Lulu and Anthony Wang Laboratory of Neural Circuits and Behavior, The Rockefeller University
- Ed Boyden, PhD, Y. Eva Tan Professor in Neurotechnology, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT; MIT McGovern Institute for Brain Research; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
- Ali Brivanlou, PhD, Robert & Harriet Heilbrunn Professor, Head of Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology, and Synthetic Embryology, The Rockefeller University; Co-founder, Rumi Scientific Inc.
- Navdeep Chandel, PhD, David W. Cugell Professor of Medicine & Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
- Moses Chao, PhD, Professor of Cell Biology, Physiology & Neuroscience, and Psychiatry, NYU Langone School of Medicine
- George Church, PhD, Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School; Founding Core Faculty & Lead, Synthetic Biology, Wyss Institute at Harvard University
- Mikael Dolsten, MD, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer and President, Worldwide Research, Development and Medical, Pfizer, Inc.
- Juan Enriquez, Managing Director, Excel Venture Management; Bestselling Author; TED All-Star
- Fred “Rusty” Gage, PhD, President and Vi and John Adler Chair for Research on Age-Related Neurodegenerative Disease, Laboratory of Genetics, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies
- Richard Isaacson, MD, Director, Center for Brain Health; Director, Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic, Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine; Adjunct Associate Professor of Neurology, Weill Cornell Medicine
- Sergiu Pasca, MD, Kenneth T. Norris, Jr. Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Bonnie Uytengsu and Family Director of the Stanford Brain Organogenesis Program, Stanford University
- James Rothman, PhD, Nobel Laureate; Sterling Professor of Cell Biology; Chair, Cell Biology; Professor of Chemistry; Director, Nanobiology Institute, Yale University
- Bernardo Sabatini, MD, PhD, Alice and Rodman W. Moorhead III Professor of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
- Joshua Sanes, PhD, Jeff Tarr Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology; Founding Director, Center for Brain Science, Harvard University
- Scott A. Small, MD, Director, Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center; Boris and Rose Katz Professor of Neurology, The Taub Institute, The Sergievsky Center; Departments of Neurology, Psychiatry, Radiology, Columbia University Irving Medical Center
- Beth Stevens, PhD, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Institute Member, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; Lavine Family Research Chair, F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center, Boston Children’s Hospital
- Bruce Stillman, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
- Richard Tsien, PhD, Director, Neuroscience Institute; Chair and Druckenmiller Professor of Neuroscience, Department of Neuroscience and Physiology, NYU Langone Medical Center
- Stacie Weninger, PhD, President, FBRI
- George Yancopoulos, MD, PhD, President and Chief Scientific Officer, Regeneron
- Michael Young, PhD, Nobel Laureate; Vice President for Academic Affairs, Richard and Jeanne Fisher Professor, Head of Laboratory of Genetics, The Rockefeller University
About The Pershing Square Foundation:
The Pershing Square Foundation (PSF) is a family foundation established in 2006 to support exceptional leaders and innovative organizations that tackle important social issues and deliver scalable and sustainable global impact. PSF has committed more than $600 million in grants and social investments in target areas including health and medicine, education, economic development and social justice. Bill Ackman and Neri Oxman are co-trustees of the Foundation. For more information, visit: www.pershingsquarefoundation.org.