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Innovative research earns Salk scientist EUREKA award

Axel Nimmerjahn

Axel Nimmerjahn

THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH (NIH) have selected Axel Nimmerjahn for a highly selective EUREKA (Exceptional Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration) grant. The EUREKA awards provide support for innovative, high-risk biomedical research initiatives with the potential for achieving significant health impact.

An assistant professor in the Waitt Advanced Biophotonics Center, Nimmerjahn holds the Richard Allan Barry Developmental Chair. The award, totaling $1.38 million over four years, will support his goal of better understanding the relationship between spinal cord physiology and brain activity and behavior. Data from this research should foster development of new treatment and rehabilitation strategies for spinal cord injury, tumors, infections and neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and spinal muscular dystrophy.

The EUREKA program was conceived specifically to help scientists such as Nimmerjahn test new, innovative ideas or tackle major methodological or technical challenges. "EUREKA awards reflect the NIH's continued commitment to funding transformative research, even if it carries more than the usual degree of scientific risk," says NIH director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "The grants seek to elicit those 'eureka moments' when scientists make major theoretical or technical advances."

Nimmerjahn is only the second Salk scientist to be honored with this prestigious award. Fred Gage, a professor in the Institute's Laboratory of Genetics, was the recipient of a EUREKA grant in 2009.