Baylor College of Medicine News

BCM Neuroscientist awarded McKnight Scholar Award

Dr. Andreas S. Tolias, assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine has been honored with the 2010 McKnight Scholar Award from The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience.

The award, $75,000 per year for three years, will help Tolias study the functional organization of the cortical microcolumn.

“The neocortex – a staggeringly complex structure containing billions of cells – supports higher brain functions like perception and cognition. It has been hypothesized that this remarkable functionality arises from core computational brain modules: strings of cells called microcolumns analogous to transistors in computers. For almost a century anatomist have studied this remarkable organization but to date its function remains unknown. We have developed the methods to begin to study how the cortical microcolumn works. Our hope is that understanding its function will reveal the principles and rules of how the cortex works. Interestingly, microcolumn dysfunction is associated with numerous high-impact diseases ranging from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s diseases and autism”, said Tolias.

Tolias is one of five scientist chosen for the award across the country. The endowment seeks to support innovative research designed to bring science closer to the day when diseases of the brain and behavior can be accurately diagnosed, prevented and treated.

The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience, established in 1986, is an independent organization funded solely by The McKnight Foundation of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and led by a board of prominent neuroscientists from around the country.