Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Pilot Award Program

Training the next generation of neuroscientists

20170112, Thursday, January 12, 2017, Boston, MA, USA, Brigham and Women's Hospital Institute for the Neurosciences launch imagery withing The Building for Transformative Medicine on Thursday January 12, 2017.  Background: "The BWH Institute for the Neurosciences is at the heart of a new hospital-wide approach to understanding and helping all patients with nervous system disorders." - background

( lightchaser photography © 2017 )

We are now accepting proposals for the 2021 Pilot Funding Awards.  The submission deadline is Sunday June 13, 2021.   Further details and application instructions can be found here.

PIN Pilot Awards provide one year of support for innovative projects across all areas of neuroscience and are funded by philanthropic donations. These awards are targeted to emerging independent researchers at an early career stage, including postdocs, clinical fellows, instructors and assistant professors within three years of appointment.


Pilot Awards provide up to $50,000 in funding for one year.  The program also provides access to potential mentors, collaborators, colleagues and resources of the BWH neuroscience community.


This is a competitive program, with applications reviewed by a committee of faculty experts drawn from multiple departments across BWH.


Note: the Pilot Award Program evolved from the previous Traveling Neuroscience Fellows Program. With the 2020 funding cycle, eligibility is no longer restricted to projects that involve travel to a collaborating institution, and funds may instead be used for any research-related costs.

2020 PIN Pilot Awardees:


Suheyla Cetin-Karayumak, PhD (Dept of Psychiatry)

Prenatal Drug Exposure and Its Impact on Brain Development in Adolescence

Harvard Catalyst BIO

Dr. Cetin-Karayumak is an instructor in the lab of Dr Marek Kubicki, associate director of the Psychiatric Imaging Laboratory.  In this project, she will analyze over 1,000 adolescent brain scans, to discover differences in brain structure that may be traced back to prenatal exposure to cocaine, heroin and other drugs.

Michael Miller, MD, PhD (Dept of Pathology)

Genome-Wide Somatic Mutation in Alzheimer’s Disease Pathogenesis Using Single Neuron Analysis

Harvard Catalyst BIO

Dr. Miller is a clinical pathologist at the Brigham who also works with Dr Chris Walsh, a clinical geneticist at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) and with Dr Jeff Golden, chair of pathology at BWH.  In this project Dr Miller will apply powerful genetic technologies developed at BCH to study the possible role of DNA mutations in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Marco Mineo, PhD (Dept of Neurosurgery)

Targeting the glioblastoma immunosuppressive microenvironment to enhance CAR T cell therapy

Harvard Catalyst BIO

Dr. Mineo is an instructor in the lab of Dr Nino Chiocca, chair of neurosurgery at BWH. Dr Mineo’s goal is to develop a new approach to treatment of glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.  His project uses gene therapy to manipulate tumor cells in a way that will make them more susceptible to attack by genetically engineered immune cells known as CAR T cells, which have been used successfully to treat other types of cancer.

Pamela Rist, PhD (Division of Preventative Medicine)

Metabolite biomarkers for migraine 

Harvard Catalyst BIO

Dr. Rist is an Assistant Professor who studies the epidemiology of cardiovascular and neurological diseases.  The goal of her project is to identify new blood-based biomarkers for migraine, a chronic headache disorder that affects about 15% of the US population, with women affected about twice as often as men.  In the long term, Dr Rist’s work may lead to a blood test that could help to evaluate new migraine drugs and to determine which drugs are likely to be effective for individual patients.

2019 Traveling Fellow:


Nagendran Ramalingam, PhD (Department of Neurology)

The role of alpha synuclein tetramerization at the synapse

Harvard Catalyst BIO

Dr. Ramalingan is a research fellow in the lab of Professor Ulf Dettmer in the Department of Neurology. He is studying the pathophysiology of Parkinson’s Disease, which is characterized by the accumulation in the brain of deposits containing the protein alpha-synuclein.  During his fellowship, Dr. Ramalingan will work with collaborators at UCSF to understand the normal function of alpha-synuclein and how it is disrupted in Parkinson’s Disease.

2017 Traveling Fellows:


Korneel Grauwet, PhD (Department of Neurosurgery)

Harnessing ‘smart’ viruses to treat brain cancer


Dr. Grauwet is currently a postdoc in the lab of Professor Nino Chiocca, MD, chair of  the Department of Neurosurgery at BWH. The goal of Dr. Grauwet’s project is to develop a viral ‘gene therapy’ for glioblastoma, a class of brain tumor that is among the most intractable of all cancers. His plan is to develop a virus that will infect tumor cells, causing them to be attacked by the body’s own immune system.


Lillian Matthews, PhD (Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine)

Improving neonatal neuroimaging techniques in preterm babies


Dr. Matthews is a research scientist in the lab of Professor Terrie Inder, MD, chair of the Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine at BWH. Dr. Matthews is using MRI to study the brains of young babies, and to develop methods that will enable studies of the developing brain and understand its vulnerability to injury and stress (for example in pre-term infants).


Michael Wheeler, PhD (Department of Neurology)

Detecting genetic mechanisms in multiple sclerosis


Dr. Wheeler is a postdoc in the lab of Professor Francisco Quintana in the BWH Department of Neurology. Dr. Wheeler is studying the mechanisms underlying multiple sclerosis (MS), particularly the later, progressive stage of the disease, which is currently poorly understood and difficult to treat. Dr. Wheeler is studying gene expression in a class of glial cells known as astrocytes, which are thought to contribute to inflammation of the brain during late stage MS.


Chun-I Wu, PhD (Department of Neurology)

Identifying causative genes in Alzheimer’s disease


Dr. Wu is a postdoc in lab of Professor Tracy Young-Pearse, PhD, professor of neurology and an expert on stem cell models of neurological disease. The focus of Dr. Wu’s project is to study Down Syndrome, a genetic condition in which individuals have a greatly increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Dr Wu is using stem cell models and CRISPR genome editing to understand the genetic causes of AD in these individuals.




Questions about this program may be directed to:


Charles Jennings, PhD

Executive Director, Program for Interdisciplinary Neuroscience