Innovators in Science Award Honorees – Neuroscience
2017 Winners and Finalists
Senior Scientist Winner
Shigetada Nakanishi, MD, PhD
Suntory Foundation for Life Sciences
Bioorganic Research Institute
Dr. Nakanishi is honored for introducing recombinant DNA techniques to neuroscience to explore the molecular basis of neurotransmitter receptor interactions in neural networks. He developed innovative cloning strategies for membrane embedded transmitter receptors and subsequently identified functional genes encoding NMDA and G-protein coupled glutamate receptors. Dr. Nakanishi is a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences, and Member of the Japan Academy.
Early-Career Scientist Winner
Viviana Gradinaru, PhD
Assistant Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering
California Institute of Technology
Dr. Gradinaru is honored for developing novel tools for neuroscience to probe the circuits underlying locomotion, reward, and sleep. She developed genetically encoded voltage sensors and actuators from microbial opsins and viral vector screening methods that resulted in capsids capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier for non-invasive brain-wide transduction after systemic delivery. Additionally, Dr. Gradinaru oversees the CLOVER Center, which works to provide training and access to her group’s reagents and methods to the broader research community.
On November 28, 2017, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company in partnership with the New York Academy of Sciences hosted an international cohort of scientists and leaders, from industry and academia, to recognize the inaugural honorees’ achievements in neuroscience. To view a ceremony highlights video that includes interviews with members of the Scientific Advisory Council and the 2017 Jury Chair, please click here.