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Scholar Awards

The McKnight Scholar Awards support neuroscientists in the early stages of their careers.

The Scholar Awards support young scientists who: hold an M.D. and/or Ph.D. degree; have completed formal postdoctoral training; and demonstrate a commitment to neuroscience. The Endowment Fund especially seeks applicants working on problems that, if solved at the basic level, would have immediate and significant impact on clinically relevant issues.

McKnight Scholars have generated some key findings about neuroscience, including:

  • The discovery of receptors that encode the senses of smell, taste, and thermal pain.
  • The first crystal structure of one of the ion channels that control the excitability of neurons.
  • The discovery of neurotrophic factors that promote neuronal survival.
  • The identification of molecules that promote axon growth and regeneration in the nervous system.
  • The discovery of proteins in the nerve terminal that mediate the release of neurotransmitters.
  • The identification of genes that control short- and long-term memory.

Each year, up to six scholars are selected to receive three years’ support. Currently, awards are $75,000 per year. Funds may be used in any way that will facilitate development of the Scholar’s research program, but not for indirect costs.

The Scholar Awards have been given annually since 1977. They were the McKnight Foundation’s earliest means of supporting neuroscience research. In 1999, in revising the awards program, the Endowment Fund board continued the Scholar Awards but with the new goal of addressing problems with imminent clinical implications.