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NIMH Grantees Named Recipients of Prestigious Presidential Award

Award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on early-career science and engineering researchers

Institute Update

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) congratulates NIMH grantees who received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). Award recipients nominated by NIMH include Drs. Carolyn Rodriguez , Stanford University; Adriana Galván , University of California, Los Angeles; and Moriah Thomason , New York University School of Medicine.

Established in 1996 by President Clinton, the PECASE Award is the highest honor bestowed by the government of the United States on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their research careers. The awards represent the high priority placed by the government on maintaining the United States’ position of leadership in science by producing outstanding scientists and engineers who will broadly advance scientific missions important to federal agencies.

Carolyn Rodriguez, M.D., Ph.D. , is an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University. Her research focuses on identifying fast-acting treatments for mental illnesses such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In an NIMH-funded project , Rodriquez is investigating the therapeutic action of ketamine at the molecular, circuit, and network level in people with OCD.

Adriana Galván, Ph.D. , a professor of psychology and a faculty member of the Brain Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, seeks to understand how neurodevelopmental changes contribute to decision making, reward sensitivity and risk-taking, and learning behaviors seen in adolescence. Her current NIMH-funded research  investigates how the neural circuitry thought to underlie anxiety develop as youth move into adolescence and how this development is associated with anxiety symptom course.

Moriah Thomason, Ph.D. , is an associate professor at New York University School of Medicine, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Department of Population Health. Through her research, Thomason seeks to determine how functioning across brain networks impacts the individual developmental trajectories of children. In one such study, funded by NIMH , Thomason is investigating the emergence of whole brain functional circuitry beginning in fetal development and working to identify relationships between this prenatal brain connectivity and preschoolers' achievement of developmental milestones.

Other 2019 PECASE award recipients currently conducting NIMH-funded research include Joel Voss , Northwestern University; Kwanghun Chung , Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Ian Maze , Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; and Priya Rajasethupathy , Rockefeller University.

The PECASE Award supports the continued development of the awardees, fosters innovative and far-reaching developments in science and technology, increases awareness of careers in science and engineering, and highlights the importance of science and technology for the nation's future. The conferral ceremony for the PECASE awards will take place on July 25th at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.