Dr. Melanie Samuel (320x240)
Dr. Melanie Samuel, assistant professor in the Huffington Center on Aging and in the Department of Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine

Dr. Melanie Samuel, assistant professor in the Huffington Center on Aging and in the Department of Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine, has been awarded the New Innovator Award by National Institutes of Health through its High-Risk, High-Reward Research program.

Samuel, who joined Baylor last year, received a $1.5 million grant over five-years to further support her research at Baylor. “I am humbled and honored to be able to represent the outstanding work here at Baylor through the New Innovator Award,” she said. 

“Melanie is a great example of the exciting new faculty that we have been recruiting to the neuroscience department,” said Dr. Paul Pfaffinger, interim chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Baylor. “Not only is she a talented and imaginative researcher, but she is also a great mentor and contributor to the academic environment of the college.” 

Samuel’s research focuses on understanding the processes that lead to cognitive dysfunction. With this grant, she and her team will work on developing new technologies to decode the structural and molecular regulators of adult synaptic rewiring with single synapse and single molecule precision in an effort to identify ways to repair neural networks.

“This award is quite exciting as it’s designed to support high-risk, high-reward science,” said Samuel. “It will allow us to pursue some ambitious goals that we hope will help move the field forward.”

Applicants for this prestigious award are judged on significance, investigator, innovation, approach and environment.

“The program continues to support high-caliber investigators whose ideas stretch the boundaries of our scientific knowledge,” said NIH Director Dr. Francis S. Collins. “We welcome the newest cohort of outstanding scientists to the program and look forward to their valuable contributions.”

The New Innovator Award was established in 2007 and supports innovative research from investigators in their early careers.

“This award reflects the exceptional support that young faculty receive at Baylor to help make their scientific goals a reality. I am incredibly grateful to my many excellent colleagues and the members of my group,” said Samuel.