NINDS Staff Spotlight

Photo of Dr. Richard Youle


Dr. Youle selected for the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

The Breakthrough Prize Foundation has announced the esteemed recipients of the 2021 Breakthrough Prize, recognizing a spectacular array of groundbreaking achievements in the Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics and Mathematics. Each year, the Prize is celebrated at a gala award ceremony, where the awards are presented by superstars of movies, music, sports and tech entrepreneurship. Due to the global pandemic, however, this year’s ceremony has been postponed until March 2021. Dr. Youle is one of four investigators selected for the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.



Photo of Dr. Sonja Scholz


NIH Researcher Sonja W. Scholz awarded 2020 ANA Soriano Lectureship 

The American Neurological Association (ANA) has announced that Sonja W. Scholz, M.D., Ph.D., as this year’s winner of the Soriano Lectureship. Established in 1987, the Soriano Lectureship is awarded every year for a “brilliant lecture delivered by an outstanding scientist” at the ANA’s annual meetings. Dr. Scholz won the award for her presentation entitled Genomic Approaches Paving the Way for Precision Neurology, she uses advanced genetics to understand neurodegenerative disorders. Read more.



Headshot Ling Gang Wu

Dr. Ling-Gang Wu – Recipient of the ITAC Award

Dr.  Ling-Gang Wu’s proposal, Visualizing SARS-CoV-2 virus entry and its underlying endocytic Mechanisms, for the Intramural Targeted Anti-COVID-19 (ITAC) Funding Program was selected for award. Award recipients can receive up to two years of funding for ongoing or new COVID-19 research efforts. If successful, the proposed work will be the first time viral entry is caught in real time at super-resolution. The resolved mechanisms may account for not only CoV2 entry, but likely many other viruses (including influenza virus) that enter cells via endocytosis. The findings of this proposal may advance understanding of viral entry, and ultimately help prevention and treatment of CoV2 infection as well as other viruses.



Dr. David Sibley 2020 Fellow of the American Society of

Headshot of David R. Sibley

Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (FASPET)

The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) selected Dr. David Sibley as one of it’s 2020 Fellows. This honor is bestowed on ASPET members who have demonstrated excellence through their overall contributions to pharmacology and the Society. It is a significant achievement; Dr. Sibley is one of 19 researchers selected for this honor. His research has focused on characterizing the molecular properties of G protein-coupled receptors, particularly those for the neurotransmitter dopamine, and studying their role in neuronal signaling. His early research led to the discovery of novel GPCR subtypes, which currently represent important drug targets for the treatment of neuropsychiatric disease. More recently, he has applied novel pharmacological concepts, including allosterism and biased signaling, to identify and develop receptor modulators that exhibit greater subtype and/or signaling pathway selectivity. Sibley’s efforts have led to the discovery of allosteric ligands, biased agonists, and best-in-class selective agonists and antagonists of the D1, D2 or D3 dopamine receptor subtypes. His research has led to numerous publications and reviews, as well as 10 patents and awards.


Michael Ward, M.D., Ph.D. Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative Award

Headshot of Michael E Ward

Dr. Ward is Head of the Inherited Neurodegenerative Diseases Unit recently received the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative Award for ALS/FTD research. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) announced that the lab is one of 30-pairs of researchers to receive an award from CZI’s Neurodegeneration Challenge Network (NDCN). The lab will partner with researchers in Germany to study the role of aging in a genetic form of ALS/FTD. Specifically, Ward’s lab combines induced pluripotent stem cell technology and advanced molecular and genetic analysis techniques to study how cells from patients with inherited forms of dementia and other neurodegenerative disorders die and rewire the brain. For this project, his lab will work with researchers in the lab of Alessandro Ori, Ph.D., at the Leibniz Institute on Aging - Fritz Lipmann Institute, in Jena, Germany. Dr. Ori’s team uses fish, called killifish, that have very short lifespans to study the molecular mechanisms of brain aging. Together the labs will explore the role that aging plays in the neural damage caused by mutations in the gene TARDBP/TDP-43, which has been linked to some cases of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Read more in the NIND press release.


Photo of Dr. Bridgette Billioux


Jeanne Billioux, M.D. – Sackett Award for Clinical Trial of the Year

Dr. Jeanne Billioux, Staff Clinician and Head of the International Virology Unit, is part of an international team recognized by the Society for Clinical Trials (SCT) for their outstanding work on the Pamoja Tulinde Maisha (PALM) Trial, which translates from the Kiswahili language to English as "Together Save Lives" Trial. The SCT presented the 2019 David Sackett Annual Trial of the Year Award to the research team in May 2020. The PALM Consortium Study Team has been working to identify safe and effective therapies for Ebola during an outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo and have conducted a trial of four investigational therapies.