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Neurobiology Fellow Kristin Scott Wins $500,000 Career Award from Burroughs Wellcome Funding Program

By Leslie Boen

Kristin Scott

Kristin Scott, a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist in the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior at Columbia Health Sciences, has been named a 2002 Burroughs Wellcome Fund (BWF) career awardee in the biomedical sciences. The Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Awards Program was established in 1995 to foster the development of promising biomedical researchers early in their careers and to help them make the transition from postdoctoral researcher to full-fledged independent investigator. Scott, who will receive a $500,000 grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund (BWF) to study taste representation in the brains of Drosophila (a type of fruit fly commonly used in biomedical research), is one of just 17 investigators across the United States named to this year's roster of winners.

A 1989 graduate of the University of Chicago with a bachelor's degree in biology, Scott subsequently pursued doctoral studies in neurobiology at the University of California at San Diego, where she studied phototransduction (the conversion of light into sensory stimuli) in Drosophila under the tutelage of Charles Zuker. Upon receiving her Ph.D. in 1998, Scott joined Columbia as a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of University Professor Richard Axel -- where today she investigates the gustatory system (mechanisms of taste) in Drosophila -- at the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior. Scott is the recipient of a 1999 Life Sciences Research Fellowship at Columbia and has published articles about her research in a number of scholarly journals and publications, including Cell, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Nature.

"I am thrilled that Burroughs Wellcome has chosen to honor and perpetuate my work through the career awards program," said Scott. "Their long-term support will enable me to pursue my research systematically and comprehensively across two different stages of my career and to unravel the mystery of exactly how the brain translates the recognition of a sensory stimulus into a behavioral response, using the Drosophila gustatory system as a model."

"We couldn't be more pleased to hear of Dr. Scott's award," said Axel. "Dr. Scott is an exceptionally talented, dedicated scientist whose research could yield tremendous new insights into the inner workings and behavioral manifestations of the brain. We are proud to see our colleague honored in this manner and delighted that her important work will go forward with new vigor and momentum."

Although they represent a wide variety of scientific disciplines and interests, BWF career award winners share one singular goal -- to make significant contributions and discoveries in the laboratory that help improve the quality of human life and human health. Each recipient is awarded $500,000 over a five-year period to conduct a study of scholarly importance at an American, Canadian, or British research institution of his or her choice. Since the program's inception, BWF has made a total of 166 career awards -- investing nearly $78 million in the academic careers of exceptionally gifted young research scientists, with another $8.5 million awarded this year alone.

"Unlike most programs offered by government and other private organizations, which typically provide a year or two of postdoctoral training or beginning faculty support, these longer-lasting awards provide the freedom and funding security that will enable new investigators to develop innovative and independent research programs during a critical time in their careers," says BWF President Enriqueta C. Bond. "It is expected that by the end of the five-year period, recipients will be engaged in productive research programs and will be able to compete effectively for support from government and other outside sources."

Published: Aug 05, 2002
Last modified: Sep 18, 2002

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