Salk Institute for Biological Studies Neurobiologist Receives NIH Director’s New Innovator Award

Published: Oct 06, 2017

LA JOLLA—Salk Institute Assistant Professor Eiman Azim has been named an NIH Director’s New Innovator for 2017 as part of the National Institutes of Health’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program. The award provides $1.5 million for a 5-year project during which Azim will explore how the nervous system controls dexterous movements.

The NIH Director’s New Innovator award is designed specifically to support a small group of creative scientists at an early stage of their career with an emphasis on innovative, high-impact projects, according to the NIH website.

“Eiman employs the most cutting-edge laboratory and imaging technologies to probe how neural circuits achieve motor control,” says Salk President Elizabeth Blackburn. “We are thrilled that his research, which has tremendous potential for life-changing insights into movement disorders, has been recognized with a prestigious NIH Director’s New Innovator Award.”

Dexterous movements of limbs and fingers are critical motor functions often affected by neurodegenerative disease and injury. Azim’s research seeks to lay the fundamental groundwork for understanding how the nervous system achieves this complex and coordinated behavior, progress that could ultimately lead to more effective treatments. Azim, who is a member of Salk’s Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, uses a multidisciplinary approach to identify how neural circuits control skilled movements, taking advantage of modern techniques in neurobiology, genetics and computer vision to investigate how diverse neural pathways are involved in different aspects of motor control.

“I am tremendously honored to have been selected for this award,” says Azim. “This funding allows us to think big and try to tackle some of the more difficult challenges that we face. For example, we hope to develop new ways to define and quantify fine movements, providing the behavioral resolution that we need to tease apart the neural circuits that establish such impressive motor output.”

Azim was also recently named a Pew Scholar, Searle Scholar and Kathryn W. Davis Aging Brain Scholar. Additionally, he is a recipient of an NIH Pathway to Independence award.


The Salk Institute For Biological Studies:

Every cure has a starting point. The Salk Institute embodies Jonas Salk’s mission to dare to make dreams into reality. Its internationally renowned and award-winning scientists explore the very foundations of life, seeking new understandings in neuroscience, genetics, immunology, plant biology and more. The Institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark: small by choice, intimate by nature and fearless in the face of any challenge. Be it cancer or Alzheimer’s, aging or diabetes, Salk is where cures begin.

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