MBI researcher honored with McKnight Scholar Award

By Todd Taylor

Dr. Nancy Padilla-Coreano lab
Dr. Nancy Padilla-Coreano (bottom row, far right) with members of her lab.

Nancy Padilla-Coreano, Ph.D., has been named a recipient of the 2024 McKnight Scholar Award for young scientists who are in the early stages of establishing their own independent laboratories and research careers and who have demonstrated a commitment to neuroscience.

The $225,000 award over three years, provided by the McKnight Foundation through its McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience, will support Padilla-Coreano’s new project titled “Neural Mechanisms of Shifts Between Social Competition and Cooperation.”

Padilla-Coreano’s project will examine changes at the neurological level when the brain switches from cooperation to competition to better understand mechanisms underlying social competency, which is hampered in a number of neuropsychiatric disorders. Using mouse models, her lab’s methods will include behavioral assays, multisite electrophysiology and machine learning analyses.

Nancy Padilla-Coreano
Dr. Nancy Padilla-Coreano

“It’s an honor to be chosen by the McKnight Foundation to research the neural mechanisms that make us such effective social animals,” said Padilla-Coreano, an MBI researcher and assistant professor of neuroscience. “I believe that this study has the potential to open up new directions in how we tackle social dysfunction in psychiatric disorders and I am so grateful for their support to put the proposal into action.”

The McKnight Scholar Award, founded in 1977, has funded over 260 investigators from across the U.S. who demonstrate an ability to solve significant problems in neuroscience.

“The MEFN is delighted to announce this year’s newly minted scholars, who are tackling leading-edge questions in neuroscience, ranging from the molecular fingerprints that aging leaves on the brain to the biological basis of intergenerational memories and the principles that enable brain-wide neuronal networks to enable navigation, survival, hibernation and sociality,” said Richard Mooney, Ph.D., chair of the awards committee and George Barth Geller Professor of Neurobiology at the Duke University School of Medicine.

Learn more about the award.